(Original post by gee_shakedown)
I told him I was interested in Leicester, to which he replied I'd be selling myself short and to look at the top10.
Grr, if he can explain to me exactly what constitutes a 'top 10' history department I might listen to him. Leicester is in terms of size, academic quality and resources, as good as any history department in the country outside of Oxford and Cambridge (with whom no one else can compete). It suffers from not many people knowing just how good it is.
As an example, I'll post a letter written by a tutor of mine, Professor Christopher Dyer, about some of the history resources at Leicester. Christopher Dyer is one of the most eminent medieval historians in the country at the moment, he was Fords Lecturer at Oxford in 2001 (which means he delivered the most prestigious series of history lectures in Oxford), he was Professor of History at the University of Birmingham for 30 years and he also taught Gordon Brown at Edinburgh
He wrote this about our local history holdings, which I know, using them all the time, are really outstanding. Bear in mind that 'local history', as he writes in the last sentence, is much broader than people usually think.
(Original post by Professor Dyer)
“The University of Leicester Library's local history collection is one of the best in the UK. It began with the Hatton collection of early county histories, many of them belonging to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, which formed part of the library's foundation collection of books in 1920.
Since then the library has subscribed to every significant learned journal relating to local history * mainly published by societies based in individual counties * and the many county and city societies publishing records. In many cases these go back to their beginnings in the nineteenth century.
The library has also devoted funds to buying local history books and pamphlets, so that each county is well served by a book collection that rarely disappoints the researcher. The maintenance of the collection has of course reflected the activities of the Department, later Centre, for English Local History, since 1948, for which Leicester is famous.
I have used many University library collections, and can assert the high quality of the Leicester local history holdings. I used to think that the University of Birmingham's holdings were excellent, but Leicester's periodicals and books are of better quality. It is superior to both the Institute of Historical Research and the Senate House collections.
The Leicester collection is used by staff, postgraduate students, and undergraduate students at Leicester, mainly by those taking courses in the Centre for English Local History. Local historians unconnected with the university use the collection, and we have occasional visitors,
attached fellows etc.
The quality of the Leicester collection ought to be better known. We are always anxious to build bridges and make contacts beyond Leicester, and we are confident that the excellence of the library could be the basis of more national and international connections.
It ought to be said that although the collection, and the Centre, are labelled 'local history' the contents of much of the library materials are used by social, economic, cultural and landscape historians. It has a much broader user base than 'local history' might imply.”
Hope that gives a bit of insight into some of the resources here, which I do believe are really outstanding