This book examines a hitherto neglected genre of literature, and provides an analysis of both eighteenth-century urban culture and local historical scholarship. Rosemary Sweet challenges the conventional view that by the eighteenth century antiquarian studies had stagnated and lost theirvigour. On the contrary, positive advances were made in the field of local history and medieval scholarship. Dr Sweet shows how a sense of the past was crucial not only in instilling civic pride and shaping a sense of community, but also in informing contests for power and influence in the localcommunity. Urban histories, she argues, were not merely part of a homogenizing polite culture, emanating out of London: they owe far more to local traditions, particularly those fostered by urban chronicles. They are proof of the continued strength of civic feeling and provincial loyalties in thisperiod. With its comprehensive survey of the work of local historians, this study adds significantly to our knowledge of urban improvement and the ethos of local history, and will also provide an important insight into the nature of civil society in eighteenth-century England.