Local knowledge, local history, homeland studies

The concepts of homeland studies and local history are often used together with that of local knowledge. These three and the more rarely mentioned landscape research and regional science may be related, yet their contents are not the same.

local knowledge

The totality of information on a specific place and the documents that hold them. As a library-related concept, it covers that part of library activities (practice) which are concerned with looking for, collecting, systematising, exploring, conveying and publishing information and documents.

local history

It is used in a dual sense. On the one hand, it denotes the process of local social evolution, the information on the past already explored or still hidden in the resources – and to this extent it is part of local knowledge. On the other hand, it signifies a branch of historical research that studies the historical past of the given place (or of one of its institutions, etc.), the life and historical role of a person connected to this place, or presents the local factors and significances of historical events.

homeland studies

This is the oldest concept, originating from the Hungarian Reform Era (early 19th c.). Its content has changed several times; today it is part of community cultural and pedagogical practice. Its task is to find and collect information, i.e. knowledge, and to provide information; its subject matter reaches beyond the boundaries of the place in question geographically, encompassing the entire country and nation. It has three typical features: it builds on self-initiation, it has the character of a movement; it covers verbal information and unwritten knowledge as well.

landscape research and regional science

Scientific studies with an interdisciplinary approach, examining the present, the recent past with a direct influence on present conditions, and future possibilities. Landscape research examines the natural environment, mostly in a comprehensive manner. Regional science is aimed at analysing and modelling processes resulting in territorial inequalities in social and economic growth, and at providing prognoses.


[1] Bényei, M.: Helyismeret, helytörténet. [Local knowledge, local history] Higher education textbook. 2008. Debrecen – Eger

This article based on the following document: Community development methodological guide