The next step in the project is to make information about the recordings available on our catalogue, Essex Archives Online, and (rights-permitting) share some the recordings online.
Ideally, we’d like volunteers to listen to the recordings, identify
the pieces performed, and write time-coded descriptions for our catalogue. For
those less familiar – or a bit rusty! – with classical music, some of the concert
programmes are available to help.
If you are interested, please get in touch with our Sound Archivist, Kate O’Neill. We would especially love to hear from you if you were involved with the EYO or CYCO yourself. You can volunteer remotely or here in the Searchroom at the Essex Record Office, so you’ll be able to get involved whether you’re based in Essex or further afield.
About the Essex Youth Orchestra
The Essex Youth Orchestra (EYO) was founded in 1957 and continues to this day as Essex Music Services’ flagship ensemble. The EYO has consistently maintained an excellent reputation for the very high standard of its performances, in part down to its history of distinguished conductors, such as John Georgiadis.
There are over 50 recordings of EYO performances in the
Essex Sound and Video Archive. They feature a range of composers, from Mozart,
Beethoven, and Bach to those with a local connection such as Holst, Britten,
and Gordon Jacob. The EYO regularly performed at local festivals and on tour,
with concerts in the USA in 1972, Israel in 1976 and East Germany in 1982.
About Colchester Youth Chamber Orchestra
Colchester Youth Chamber Orchestra (CYCO) was founded in
1982 to provide talented local musicians an opportunity to play in an ambitious
chamber orchestra. It also featured notable musicians, with trumpeter George
Reynolds conducting from 1984. It closed in 2007.
The CYCO archive was deposited at the Essex Record Office in 2012. Alongside programmes, posters, and press clippings, the archive includes twenty recordings of CYCO performances, from concerts at the annual Colchester Rose Show to the first performance of Alan Bullard’s ‘Colchester Suite’.
The aim of the Essex Ensembles Assembled project
The project aims to preserve recordings of the Essex Youth Orchestra and Colchester Youth Chamber Orchestra and make them available for future generations to enjoy. It is funded by the Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC), a non-profit organisation dedicated to the preservation and study of sound recordings.
As an aural record, the recordings provide a unique insight into the changing nature and repertoire of youth orchestras in Essex over the past fifty years, and give a platform to local musicians, conductors and composers.
They also capture music-making that is often lost to posterity, with performances by the Second Essex Youth Orchestra as well as the First, and the occasional wrong notes and coughs from the audience.
Nevertheless, as a whole the recordings reveal a high standard of performance, and demonstrate what young people can contribute to music in Essex and beyond.
Archive catalogues can be difficult to use. There are differences between structured archive catalogues describing archival records that comply with the international cataloguing standard (ISAD-G) and a free-text Internet search box. While the homepage of Essex Archives Online looks like a basic text search box, using it like an Internet search engine will not give the best results.
Part of the Heritage Lottery Funded project, You Are Hear: sound and a sense of place, involves cataloguing some of the thousands of unique sound and video recordings in the Essex Sound and Video Archive (ESVA). Cataloguing the records makes it easier for users to locate relevant material, but only if the catalogue descriptions can be found. We try to catalogue with discoverability in mind, but we thought it might be useful to share some tips on how to find sound and video archives in particular through Essex Archives Online.
As reported in an earlier blog entry, we updated Essex Archives Online to allow you to play sound and video recordings directly through the catalogue. To find these recordings, select ‘Audio Visual’ in the ‘Refine your search’ box, and then type terms that interest you into the main text box. You will need to create an account and log before you can play the recordings, but you do not need to subscribe.
Tip: To browse all the sound recordings currently uploaded to the catalogue, select ‘Audio Visual’ in the ‘Refine your search’ box, then type ‘sa’ in the main search box. To browse all the video recordings, select ‘Audio Visual’ in the ‘Refine your search box’, then type ‘va’ in the main search box. We can explain why this works if you are interested, but otherwise just trust us that it (mostly) works!
However, we can only gradually upload digitised recordings to the catalogue. Also, copyright on some of the recordings prohibits us from making them available online. This means that we have many, many more sound and video recordings which cannot be played through the catalogue, but only by ordering them to play in the Playback Room at the Essex Record Office (or by purchasing a copy). These recordings won’t show up if you refine your search only to ‘Audio Visual’ records. So how do you find something in the ESVA that might be of interest to you?
When we catalogue material, we give each document or recording a Reference Number. This helps to uniquely identify the recording. It’s not a random collection of letters and numbers (though it might seem like it!): each part gives clues about the document and how it fits with other material.
The Reference Numbers for all sound recordings start with ‘SA’, for ‘Sound Archive’. So the easiest way to narrow your search to find sound recordings is to include ‘sa’ as one of your search terms.
Similarly, the Reference Numbers for all video recordings start with ‘VA’, for ‘Video Archive’. To find video recordings, include ‘va’ as one of your search terms.
Tip: You will still get some results that are not sound or video recordings. Change the sort by box at the top-right to ‘Reference’. This will display your results in alphabetical order by Reference Number. Scroll down to the Reference Numbers that begin with ‘SA’ or ‘VA’.
So far so good, but how do you know what to search for? Unlike the majority of the documents in the Essex Record Office, you might find some ESVA recordings by searching for an individual’s name. If the individual has been recorded in an oral history interview, or featured in a local radio piece, then his or her name should be included in the catalogue entry.
But you will probably find more results by searching for a place or subject. For example, perhaps you want to learn more about how Willingale has changed over time. If you type in ‘Willingale’ and ‘sa’ in the search boxes, you will find eleven sound recordings, mostly oral history interviews with long-standing residents.
These might reveal information about local businesses, notable local families, services in the village – and especially people’s memories of the American servicemen stationed nearby during the Second World War.
Tip: Our search engine is not case sensitive. This means it does not matter whether you type ‘Willingale’, ‘willingale’, ‘WILLINGALE’, or ‘WiLliNGalE’: it will come up with the same results.
Or maybe you want to find out what people were eating in the early twentieth century. Try typing ‘meals’ and ‘sa’ in the search boxes. You should find oral history recordings that include memories of what the interviewees ate as children (bread, dripping, and fresh fruit and vegetables – acquired legally or otherwise – feature heavily). This clip from an interview with Rosemary Pitts of Great Waltham gives an example of what children ate in the 1920s-1930s (SA 55/4/1).
You can run an Advanced Search to better refine the results that you get. Click ‘Advanced Search’ at the top of the page. To search for a specific phrase, type this in the second box – and don’t forget to add ‘sa’ or ‘va’ to the top box. For example, try typing ‘sa’ in the top box and ‘First World War’ in the second box.
If you are searching for multiple words that might not appear as an exact phrase in the catalogue description, type your words into the top box. For example, if you are looking for information about Clacton Pier, this might be described as ‘Clacton-on-Sea Pier’, ‘Clacton Pier’, or ‘the Pier at Clacton’. To find all of these matches, type ‘Clacton’ and ‘pier’ in the top box – and add ‘sa’ or ‘va’ to the second box.
Tip: To search for sound and video recordings at the same time, type ‘sa’ and ‘va’ in the third box before clicking ‘SEARCH’.
You can also use our index search boxes from the ‘Advanced Search’ screen. Choose ‘People’, ‘Places’, or ‘Subjects’ from the ‘Refine your search’ box, and then type in the key words or names that interest you. This will only find results where your search term is a major part of the recording, and not just mentioned in passing. You will not be able to limit this search to just sound or video recordings, but if you sort the results by Reference, you can find the Reference Numbers that begin ‘SA’ or ‘VA’.
There are other finding aids that might help you locate relevant material. We have subject guides to sound and video recordings that cover: agriculture, Christmas, education, Essex dialect and accents, folk song and music, health, housing, shops and shopping, traditional English dance, transport, the First World War, and the Second World War. These are available in the Playback Room at the Essex Record Office, or from our website.
You can also read general user guides to Essex Archives Online on the catalogue: click ‘USER GUIDES’ at the top of the page.
Now that you can find material in the Archive, please come and listen! That is what it is here for. And do get in touch if you’re having trouble finding recordings. We would be happy to help.
But first here’s a little test for you to try. The result will be worth it, we promise.
Click ‘Advanced Search’ from the top of the page.
Make sure the ‘Refine your search’ box is set to ‘Everything’.
Did you know that the Essex Sound and Video Archive at the Essex Record Office holds over 30,000 recordings of oral history interviews, music, local radio and television broadcasts, and much more? The best way to discover all the treasures in the Archive is to search Essex Archives Online – and now you can also play a sample of the recordings directly from the website.
With the latest update to our online catalogue, we can now embed audio and video recordings from hosting websites such as Soundcloud and YouTube. This means you can listen or watch our recordings without having to go to a different site – recordings like this ‘Haunted Essex’ clip from an EastWard Hospital Television programme.
You can also search specifically for items that have audio or video recordings attached to the catalogue entry. From the main search page, choose ‘Audio Visual’ from the ‘Refine your search’ drop-down box.
Why not try it now? For example, try searching for ‘school’ – and remember to first select ‘Audio Visual’ in the ‘Refine your search’ box.
This is also an option on the Advanced Search page. Please note that this will only return results where we have uploaded digital copies of the recordings. There are many more amazing treasures in the Archive yet to be digitised, so do get in touch if you cannot find what you are looking for.
Maybe you are not specifically looking for audio or video material, but, as you search the whole catalogue, you might come across some relevant recordings. You can quickly spot which results have audio-visual content, because you will see this icon on the results page.
You will need to create an account on Essex Archives Online and log in before you can view or listen to the content. However, you do not need to purchase a subscription: the material is absolutely free to play, and can be played as often as you like. So you can scrutinise, frame by frame, this 1980s video of St Cedd’s School Choir performing at the Chelmsford Cathedral Festival to see if you recognise anyone.
Or perfect your Anglo-Saxon.
This means you no longer have to travel to the Essex Record Office to use Essex Sound and Video Archive material (but of course we would be happy to help you with your research in the Searchroom if you do want to visit). Instead, you can play recordings from the comfort of your own home – or in the library, or an Internet café, or your garden if your Wi-Fi is strong enough (but please be considerate of others when listening).
This material is being made available for free thanks to our Heritage Lottery Funded project, You Are Hear: sound and a sense of place. The material available online will continue to grow as we digitise more of our recordings over the next two years of the project. Follow us on Soundcloud or YouTube to be alerted to new uploads.
Sarah-Joy Maddeaux, Project Officer for You Are Hear: sound and a sense of place takes a step back to muse on what heritage is all about.
The Essex Sound and Video Archive has been granted £5000 from the Essex Heritage Trust to contribute towards our project, You Are Hear: sound and a sense of place – subject to receiving the rest of the funding. The grant has been awarded under the Trust’s Restoration / Conservation fund, as we intend to put the money towards purchasing equipment to digitise some of our sound and video recordings. Through digitisation, we will preserve these irreplaceable recordings, which are at risk of deterioration or loss due to obsolescent formats. Digitisation is also the first step towards making them more easily available for you to enjoy, from the comfort of your own homes.
The Trust’s approval demonstrates the trustees’ broad appreciation for the county’s assets, not limiting themselves to more obvious historical treasures such as buildings and gardens. Rather, they have recognised that the sound and video recordings we hold are equally covered by their mission statement ‘to help safeguard or preserve for the benefit of the public such land, buildings, objects, or records that may be illustrative of, or significant to, the history of the County or which enhance an understanding of the characteristics and traditions of the County’.
The bulk of the funding for the You Are Hear project will come from the Heritage Lottery Fund, if we are successful with our second-round Your Heritage grant application.
Can you spot the common denominator? The assets worthy of preservation and the motivations of the financiers are all linked to heritage.
So what is ‘heritage’? What qualifies as forming part of our heritage? Is it only to do with ‘old stuff’?
To me, heritage is about the foundation of a shared culture that demonstrates who we are, based on a common history, geography, or society. It includes historical treasures, certainly, as evidence of our past. But I think it can encompass much more than that. We should also consider what should be captured from today’s culture, which will form part of the next generation’s heritage. This is particularly important with sound and video archives, where careful planning is necessary in order to preserve recordings that might otherwise be lost.
You Are Hear aims to digitise many of our recordings and make them available, but also to actively encourage people to develop their sense of heritage within the county of Essex: building a sense of place based on the sounds and moving images that represent the county. We hold recordings related to our industrial past, such as a speech made by Marchese Guglielmo Marconi, the inventor of radio, who built the factory in Chelmsford that enables the city to proudly proclaim itself as ‘the birthplace of radio’ on the signs as you enter its boundaries (SA 27/9/1).
We have an oral history collection about the development of Harlow as a New Town, revealing the planning that went into it, and what life was actually like for the earliest residents (SA 22). We have film footage of Morris dancers from local bands at festivals, on tour, and even at a wedding (VA 30). We have recordings of mayor-making ceremonies in Chelmsford (SA 7/571/1), Colchester (SA 8/5/12/1), and Southend (SA 20/1/5/1), capturing the ritual and dignity of local government. We have the commentary from the famous Colchester United victory over Leeds United in their fifth-round FA Cup match in 1971, a permanent reminder of one moment of glory in our county’s sporting heritage (SA 27/12/1). These recordings all demonstrate different aspects of our shared past, evoking pride and attachment to the county.
But we also have a copy of Blur’s 1995 album ‘The Great Escape’ (Acc. SA291). We have a recording of a Tilbury-Juxta-Clare parish meeting (SA 24/1001/1). We have a recording of pedestrian crossing beeps, the escalator in the BHS store, and general noise of the Southend high street in 2008 (Acc. SA501). Do these also qualify as ‘heritage’?
Why shouldn’t they? They are part of the county’s diverse and continually evolving culture. They capture the everyday – those moments that together build a realistic picture of what it is like to live in Essex. In a hundred years, what will listeners make of Blur’s music? Or the noise of an urban landscape? Historians face the challenge of trying to uncover what life was like in a former era. We have the opportunity now to give future historians a helping hand by preserving as much of our current heritage as possible. We can also help to validate the diverse culture of today’s inhabitants by recognising it as worthy of long-term preservation.
Has this made you think of some of your own sound or video recordings, which might be of interest to people today or in the future? Please do let us know: we would be delighted to help make your personal heritage part of the county’s shared culture. You can also get in touch with us for more information about any of the recordings mentioned.
You can listen to extracts from selected recordings from the Essex Sound and Video Archive on SoundCloud:
Do you have a relative who lived in Herongate before the Second World War? If so, they may well appear on a film which has recently been catalogued by the Essex Sound and Video Archive (ref: VA 27/16/1).
The film – entitled Jubilee – shows celebration activities held on fields adjoining The Green Man public house in Herongate on the occasion of the Silver Jubilee of King George V in 1935. To the original silent, black and white film has been added a sound narration spoken by Steffie Hope as the voice of Mrs Nash who appears on the film and was apparently Herongate’s oldest resident at the time.
The film begins with a photograph of The Elms, Herongate – the home of Mrs Nash. We see various group shots and then a shot of Mrs Nash talking with Reginald Houlston, the Vicar of All Saints, East Horndon with St. Andrew, Herongate. Then we see schoolchildren parading past the camera and a group shot of all the ladies in the village (some of whom are holding babies). There are then close-up shots of most of the women and a number of men from the village – all of whom are named in the spoken commentary.
The film then shows a series of children’s running races, followed in each case by close-up shots of the winners. Again, most of these are named; although one participant in the wheelbarrow race is called simply ‘the boy Hodge’.
The film is only eight and half minutes long, but is an invaluable resource for local, social and family history.
The film is available to order in the ERO Searchroom – all you need is a valid reader’s ticket (you can register for this on arrival if you don’t already have one, just bring some ID with your signature and address) and staff will advise you on how to order the film to view.
See below for some stills from the film. Many of these people are named by the commentator, making the film an especially fascinating insight into the past.
We recently unearthed this film made by Essex County Council in 1981 to promote the largescale new development of South Woodham Ferrers.
A Riverside Country Town – click to be taken to the video on YouTube
The five minute film is a shortened version of the full 23 minute promotional film released to attract families to the then newly developed town.The short film positioned South Woodham Ferrers as the ideal country town, providing a rural lifestyle yet with all the amenities and transport links sought after by the industrious family in the booming early 1980s.
The film also includes a song written especially to promote the town, including the lyrics, ‘South Woodham Ferrers, it’s a whole new place to be … now’s the time to be here, there’s all you’ll ever need’.
Anyone interested in viewing the full version order it in our Searchroom (reference VA 3/8/9/1).
Also available are the original pamphlets promoting the town, which are advertised at the end of the film. The brochures promote the town’s ‘Very attractive buildings to delight the eye and rest the mind’, and asks ‘Where are the shops?… the housewife’s inevitable and very important question.’ (Have a look in pamphlet box W9 in the ERO library).
It’s well worth a watch, but be warned, the song is dangerously catchy…
Those of you who came to our Discovery Day recently might have seen the films that we were showing in our lecture theatre.
If you had feared that you would never be able to see them again, we are pleased to announce that you can now relive the joy through the magic of YouTube.
First up, a selection of extracts from videos held in the Essex Sound and Video Archive, including morris dancing, the opening of Bradwell power station, a 1950s police video insulting Colchester’s pedestrians, the opening of Lakeside shopping centre, wartime landgirls, people on their holidays at the Essex seaside, and lots more.
You can also visit our YouTube channel to see some of the other videos which were playing on the Discovery Day, including the now famous ‘document production’ video. (It’s better than it sounds, honestly.) Enjoy!