EAFA Home Viewing

Preserving tape anthologies of local interest films

About the project

The EAFA Home Viewing project explores EAFA productions sold to the public on VHS from the 1980s to the early 2000s. In these tapes EAFA curated its archive footage, adding commentaries and music, to create anthologies of East Anglian life for home viewing.  

Now that films from our collections can be enjoyed at home online, the original tapes have become archive objects in themselves. UEA student volunteers, led by graduate intern Olivia Croyle, digitised the tapes to ensure their long-term preservation. 

The project was undertaken in 2023.

A UEA student volunteer digitises archive video tape as part of the EAFA Home Viewing project.

About the collection

The collection comprises over 50 nostalgic compilations of archive films showing East Anglian life. They were available on video from local shops from the 1980s to the early 2000s.

Digitising these productions has become a priority, as VCR playback devices now constitute specialist equipment.  

Each of the productions present an East Anglian location, activity, or niche interest. Titles include A Look Back at Sudbury, Southend Bygone Years on Film, and And Now They Rest, a compilation about windmills in the 1930s and 1940s. These compilations bring together clips from professional productions, local newsreels, and amateur home movies. Footage was overlaid with music and commentaries by EAFA staff, local historians, and sometimes the filmmakers themselves.  

As part of this project, we are also preserving the cases and the tapes themselves. On the VHS packaging grey-scale bucolic scenes and sepia-tinted streets are overlaid with brightly coloured retro fonts. Some of the case inserts even feature the archive’s staff and equipment surrounded by silent-movie era vignettes.  

Making archive film accessible

While on the surface these VHS tapes appear old fashioned, they represent principals of access and preservation on which EAFA was founded and which still have relevance in archival work today.

Before the internet made it possible to share collections online, the VHS compilations allowed people a glimpse of their local history preserved in the archive’s vaults.

Today, the experience of watching videos from EAFA’s collection online is different from that provided by these VHS tapes. Their availability is not restricted by location, they are free, and you don’t have to rewind them at the end. 

Discover the films

Find out more about the project in Dr. Olivia Croyle’s project reflection, and on the Enjoy Your Archives website >>>