Regional project to enhance access to Marconi archives

  • Date

    Wed 11 Nov 20

Old Marconi logo depicting a globe with the word 'Marconi' written on a banner around the centre

Essex historians have received funding for a regional collaboration which will enhance public engagement and use of the Marconi photographic archive held at Essex Record Office (ERO).

The project, which will see researchers at Essex and the University of East Anglia working with BT’s Heritage and Archive team and ERO, is being funded by an EIRA Innovation Voucher grant.

The project aims to develop a creative strategy for enhancing public engagement with the archives using digitally enabled tools and methods.

The Marconi archive, which is of national and international significance, reflects the central role that the Marconi company played in the history of Chelmsford, known as ‘the birthplace of radio’, the county of Essex and the world beyond.

The company’s pioneering work in wireless technology has left a lasting legacy in shaping our modern world and day-to-day lives. From radio to navigation, Marconi’s inventions have enabled today’s world of communication.

The archive also highlights the contribution to innovation and the application of technology that the county of Essex has made over the years.

The EIRA-funded project will develop a strategy for engagement that builds on current use and incorporates new and innovative technology, such as augmented reality and immersive experiences.

Dr Andrew Priest, Head of the Department of History, said: “It is fitting that this project about cutting-edge digital innovations to increase public engagement with archives is focused on the Marconi collections, which highlight Essex’s central place in the development of technology in the twentieth century. This project will enable people to engage with an important and fascinating aspect of our past but we also hope that it will help other archives open up their collections to new audiences'

Councillor Susan Barker, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Customer, Communities, Culture and Corporate, added: “We are really pleased to have this opportunity to benefit from the knowledge and insight provided by the University of Essex and UEA. It will not only help us to share and celebrate the contribution of many Essex residents who worked for the Marconi company in shaping our modern world, but will also help the Essex Record Office in considering how to engage audiences in new ways with many other fascinating historic collections in the future.”

Anne Archer, BT, Head of Heritage and Archives added: “We’re delighted to be a partner of this project, sharing ideas and collaborating to enhance the way that people engage with archives. BT Heritage and Archives holds a rich digitised collection - for us, it’s an important way of connecting people to our history and finding new audiences. Recent developments in 5G and cutting-edge technology have created new opportunities for archives and cultural organisations. The outputs of this project will help to uncover some of these.”

The team will work with a PhD student who will be undertake the research necessary for developing a strategy to guide future planning and investment.