York’s History

This page is designed to be a ‘go to’ place for local stories from the past that will add colour to all your teaching. Many of them are links to other places and we have tried to give a bit of an intro to what the links offer.

Adding a local connection into the topics you teach is remarkably easy in a place with as rich a past as York. Many of our students will spend their whole lives in this city, with its major tourism industry. They need to be aware of their local heritage and have an entitlement to know the past of their own community.

See also the ‘slot-ins’ section for some York-specific resources for students with teacher notes.

Topic specific (but also see the general sites below)

York: It’s hard to describe what riches of local history await you in this Victoria County History of York from the middle ages to the mid 20thC. Here, for example is a page on some of York’s historical monuments.

BBC Teach have a Cluetuber film clip that is less than 5 minutes long to intro students to really looking out for the past in the historic urban environment – and it’s set in York!

African Roman in York: The story of ‘Julia Tertia’ and her remains, now in the Yorkshire Museum. And Ivory Bangle Lady via the YMT site.

Viking and medieval objects: Podcasts about objects from York Archaeological Trust

Medieval kingship: The daughter of King Henry III of England marries the King of Scotland in York: A Royal Wedding story

Joan of Leeds: the research into archives that has uncovered the story of a 12thC woman in York taking control of her own life by faking her own death.

Black Death: A medieval teenager who travelled from his village to be an apprentice in York around the time of the Black Death – activity and teacher info. 

Medieval parishes of North Yorks: there are details about all the medieval settlements: VCH – vol 1 and vol 2. The Victoria Country History online also has rich detail for East and West ridings, of course – follow the links given to find it.

All Saints’ North Street: blogposts on the famous medieval windows and their restoration.

Medieval guilds: in York – how trade and the economy was organised A History of York Guilds

Medieval pilgrimage: York’s local saint – his story and shrine St William

Medieval York: maps with links of York at the end of the Middle Ages

Medieval York’s public health: an article and another article on a similar theme: Jorgensen Smells etc in York

Medieval monasticism: Monks and nuns in York and the whole of the old North Riding of Yorkshire: VCH – vol 3

Short films re York’s Walls: one, two, three

Dissolution local history can be explored using this National Archives site

Elizabethan religion: the story of Margaret Clitherow York butcher’s wife and Roman Catholic martyr

Map of York in 1617: here

Siege of York 1644: a ten minute film clip made by York Univ students telling the story of the siege on location and in the context of the Civil War

Politics in York – from 1660-1760

John Blackmoorfreeman of the city in 1687

Black Lives of 18th and 19thC York

Writers in York pre 1900: including Lawrence Sterne and an inspiration for Dickens. Anne Lister. Anne Bronte in York.

James Wilson MP York MP 1826-30 (died 1830), lived in Whitby, retired slave plantation owner.

John Snow: The famous cholera man was born in York and his memorial is in North Street  John Snow Memorial and his story.

John Goodricke: the York astronomer with a disability.

Victorian Politics in Yorkfrom the History of Parliament website.

George Hudson: York man and early railway entrepreneur – The Railway King

Archive material for public health in 19thC York: GCSE Public Health York Archives Material_Teacher Pack

York workhouses and other primary packs from the Civic Trust.

York Walls: blogpost with sources about the sturggle to maintain heritage as a city develops – both medieval and Victorian and modern resonance.

Dick Turpin: and other prisoners (including Luddites and Chartists) and warders of York Prison York Prison Stories

Map of York in 1852: Here is an amazing map of York in 1852.

19thC Poverty on Nunnery Lane including the story of how Francis Bean escaped this poverty.

A walk around South Bank from CHLHG and riverside industries of Clementhorpe, for example the DeLittle Printing Works. And the industries of Bishophill – including Cooke’s Instruments who made world-leading telescopes.

The African Blondin -famous tightrope walker

World War One in the York area: collection from BBC Radio York, PPT on War at Home, Historypin Zeppelin York 1916-2016 and here you can find a Twitter feed done in 2016 at the exact moment of the centenary. The impact of war on Scarcroft School and German born residents of York at the time of WW1 and a tale of two cousins

Women on the York Minster memorial to the Women of the Empire who died in WW1 and the story of the York women who created it.

Raids Over York: a project drawing together history and memory of WW2 raids on York that will run 2020-22. The tragedy of Nunthorpe Grove in WW2. More links from the 80th anniversary: A short film overview, A Child’s Animation, YouTube overview of the raid, Rest Centres and Billeting iPUP, a source from the hospital. A rolling thread of images relating to Civil Defence in York during the Second World War. 2 August 1942 raid post.

York in World War Two – while this pack is designed for primary age pupils there are some useful images and local stories that may be useful. There is also a WW1 pack, and a suffragette pack here.

Terrys Chocolate Factory in York – a short history – and planned research on Rowntree colonnial histories.

Mary Ann Craven – a York confectioner and very successful businesswoman.

York Chest Clinic archive – scroll down on the blog to the archive of the month post. May have useful sources for Medicine and Health through time.

York woman in WW2 occupied Paris: Madeleine Blaess who lived in Acomb and went to the Bar Convent (All Saints’ School)

Castle Museum old shops of York in the archives and Bishy Road shops

John Bowes Morrell – a portrait of a person who had a massive influence on modern York.

Rosemary Cook – local expert on the history of nursing.

Jocelyn Bell-Burnell – astronomer and discoverer of pulsars.

York Migration Case Study – note: this is really interesting and useful, but already out of date (eg there is now a synagogue again in York and since 2011 gypsy and traveller people have been counted on censuses).

Some ‘Meanwhile, Nearbys‘ for York and area schools

Faces of York‘ walking tour.

Websites that are a mine of good images and/or stories

historyofyork.org.uk – the clue’s in the name! A website of the history of York which is also pupil friendly.

yorkstories.co.uk– this is brilliant site run by a local York woman for many years. It is very topical, but also traces the history of local buildings, YCFC, York in 1961 to name a few. This is the link to the page of blogs specifically tagged histories

York Past and Present – YouTube channel with short film clips of York past.

York Alternative History – Alternative because… there’s more to York and to York’s history than Vikings, Romans and pretty medieval streets. Exploring the histories of York which don’t make the guidebooks.

Clifford’s Tower – the many stories attached to the famous tower, from the massacre of the Jewish citizens to the English Civil War and more.

World War One in York – a tour that will lead you around York’s historic cityscape, exploring some of its forgotten stories.

HerStory York – a collection of stories of women post 1900 who have lived in York (will go back further). Watch out for an exhibition in the Castle Museum and new resources for schools!

York City Walls – maps, trails, stories and more about the famous York City Walls

YMT collections – Yorkshire Museums Trust have put a few collections onto Google Institute, including on WW1 and the Yorkshire Hoard.

Yorkstories2012 – a collection of oral histories and more put together in 2012. It includes residents’ memories of York in WW2 and the making of chocolate in the city.

rowntreesociety.org.uk – for the impact of the famous Quaker Rowntree family on the city

Imagine York – archive of photos of York and some nice images of Hungate in the early 20th C are here.

ClementsHallLHG – for the local history of the Bishopthorpe Road area, especially in WW1 and the shops in the 20thC.

Fulford, Fishergate and Heslington – local history of WW1 and the streets in this area.

University of York Borthwick Institute for Archives – they are very keen to connect with local schools and at this link you will find resource packs and access to some of their online material.

It’s worth keeping an eye on York Archaeological Trust site for some of the latest information about finds in York. Here, for example is a report of Roman and later Augustinian finds on the guildhall site.

This York Press article introduces the project herstory York. We will be engaging with this as it develops. Meanwhile, scroll down the article for short biogs of York women that can be slotted into teaching. There is also a project called York Behind the Headlines that may be useful to teachers.

Great website for sourcing maps thanks to the National Library of Scotland.

It’s worth getting a copy of the York Historic Towns Atlas for the school – loads of specially drawn maps, images and a gazeteer covering each period written by academic historians.

Short film about the York Homeless Heritage mapping project

Finally, TimelineYorkPlus brings together history groups in York and in a mine for contacts and info.

And here is the YMT Community Engagement page with a list of local organisations that may be able to help.

This blogpost, written by a teacher, is a really useful way in to working with local history if you are new to the concept: Doing local history blogpost