Community archive types
64% of the community archives who replied to our survey were based around a geographical community, often a parish or a village. The remainder were largely linked by a common interest.
Some community archives have a local theme (like Bewdley in Worcestershire and Winkleigh in Devon, both among our case studies). Others, like the RhonddaValley case study, have an industrial and geographical basis. A third group, such as the Northamptonshire Black History Project, are based on local ethnic groupings.
One of our case studies, the Cambridgeshire community archive network (CCAN) shows the deployment of funding to support a successful recent development: the formation of county-wide community archives, linked together into wider groupings, with the support of local authorities and the use of Internet technology.
The digitally-linked groups in Cambridgeshire can upload material, access the wider collection online and share both histories and practical advice. This project uses ‘Comma’ software, supplied by the charity Commanet, which serves the users of over 300 community archive groups including CCAN. Other digital solutions are also available.
Age of community archive records
The age and distribution of records in our survey is shown below. Fourteen out of 46 archives were discovered to have records older than 1800, but the large majority were built around records from the last century.
Types of community archive record
Holding documents in digital form was the most common practice according to our survey. Fourteen archives surveyed had entirely digital records. Visual records, and in particular photographs, were the next most popular, with paper and parchment almost equal third, and books a close fourth.
Quantity of material held by community archives
This varied widely. Some community archives had just a few hundred items while others had a few thousand. The smallest records were contained in just a few folders while the largest needed about fifty metres of shelving.