Tuesday, 17 September 2013

A central archive for Haughley's history?

Haughley History Forum's last meeting was on 2nd March 2010, when our paper resources were distributed to members' homes for safe keeping. Since then the group has been dormant - but, I hasten to add, not the individual members!

Following publication of the Book of Haughley (Halsgrove: 2005), a bank account was opened to receive proceeds from sales of the book – it holds a few hundred pounds. Since 2010 one or two ideas for using these funds have been proposed and rejected. When the Village Hall Management Committee asked if we had any interesting photos to hang in what has now become the Old Reading Room (formerly Small Hall) I began to think about creating a central archive for our scattered & neglected resources. A fear we probably all share is that information we gathered for our D-Day Exhibition (2004) and the Book of Haughley, amongst other projects, may be lost or destroyed whilst in individual hands - moving house, or a death leave scope for such stuff to end up in skips! The village as a whole, or local history researchers and so on, deserve access to the fruits of our labour. There is possibly stuff "out there" that could be added as well.

Of about half a dozen possible locations for a central storage space the most feasible seemed to be: The Old Reading Room at the Village Hall; The Ron Crascall Pavilion on the Playing Field; the parish church. How we actually store items if and when a location could be found would depend on the requirements attaching to it – it seems the church has to have approved furniture styles. Our current funds could certainly pay for a filing cabinet & a display cupboard. But would that be enough storage?

Digitisation is a way to shrink some data (images on discs and/or memory sticks, cassette tapes likewise). Documents could be scanned to protect originals, but what about anything larger than A4? A wish list of equipment or services is already growing! We could maybe approach Heritage Lottery Funding for a community-shared, non-profit making project, and our treasurer is looking into this.

Even if we could raise more money a lot would depend on having pro-active members of the History Forum. Currently there are still eight people in the village out of the twelve originally credited in the preamble to the Book of Haughley, four of them having moved away. Of the eight, two are perhaps limited in how active they could be due to illness The remaining six of us are getting older, or might not want too much involvement, having moved on to other things since March 2010.

As a partial step forward our treasurer, an IT “whiz”, suggested we turn the Book of Haughley into an e-book - brilliant idea! We are now working towards an "open" History Forum session at the Maxwell Charnley Community Room in the New Year. We could invite those who originally contributed, those who MIGHT have contributed at the time but were overlooked or felt hesitant to join in, as well as those who don't even know the book exists (you can still buy a copy in the Bury Street Bookshop, Stowmarket by the way) and would like to read it in a more up-to-date format (on Kindle or Nook). An event like this could even unearth some younger historians who might carry the History Forum into the future.

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