South Essex Community Archive Network (SECAN)

Six brand new online archives are being created to unlock the history of communities across south Essex.

From memories, oral histories and videos, to personal photographs and other documents, each archive will give fascinating insight into the history of villages and towns in the area, and into the lives of individual people. All six collections will be living things, with materials added to them continually, and they will help local people learn about what makes their area special.

The archives are being set up with the help of specially trained volunteers.

In Canvey Island and South Benfleet alone, 26 volunteers will have the opportunity to acquire basic skills in handling and caring for documents and photographs. And around 60 people have so far attended scanning sessions across south Essex, to help them digitise archive papers.

An exhibition that draws on material from the six archives is also being created, and will tour local libraries and community venues.

“The content is a mixture of existing material, new research, individuals’ memories and photos, with an emphasis on ‘little history’ – that is to say local and personal. That’s not to say 'big history’ is ignored. It is not. The history of Benfleet Creek swimming club sits cheek by jowl with the Battle of Benfleet.”

Mark Thres, Benfleet Community Archive.


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