In order to produce meaningful descriptions of these papers it has been necessary to include brief accounts of the evolution of the Society’s Offices, and to complete the picture lists of all Officers have been compiled and are published here.
This is clearly not a history of the Society - rather this catalogue describes the raw material upon which further research would be based. By far the best history of the Society to date is “Our triple Jubilee: the Essex Archaeological Society 1852-2002” by W R Powell, published in Transactions ‘Third Series’ Volume 32. It is possible to build up an impression of the Society's activities from the Annual Reports, published until 1960 in the Transactions and issued separately thereafter. 'Our Diamond Jubilee' by W C Waller (‘new series’ xiii, 1-11) describes the Society's first years, whilst G M Benton: ‘The Early History of the Society and of the Colchester and Essex Museum' (n.s. xviii, 276-289) is a useful account of the early years of: the Society and its attempts to establish a museum.
Whilst the catalogue itself is, hopefully, complete and accurate, the lists of Officers is acknowledged to be deficient - chiefly thanks to incomplete records. This is a further attempt to publish a complete list of Officers - for a partial one see the order of the 'Centenary Service at All Saints Church, Colchester, on Sunday 14 November 1952' (n.s. xxv, 1-8). Where known full christian names have been given on the first occasion that an individual is mentioned, and where his or her portrait (referred to as P.) or obituary (referred to as O.) have been published the fact is only noted once. (Numbers in lower case Roman numerals refer to volumes of .the New Series of the Transactions, Arabic numbers refer to volumes of the Third and Fourth Series, and NL is an abbreviation for Newsletter.) Dates of birth and death (where known) are only given for Presidents, and all post-nominal letters and prefixes to names such as Doctor have been omitted except for members of the Church and the Army. The office-holding dates are, wherever possible, those derived from minutes which are, at times, at variance with those given in obituaries and other later sources.
It is to be hoped that anyone who is able to fill in the gaps in the lists of Officers will approach the Honorary Librarian, and also that present and past officers will consider depositing such papers as they have relating to their terms of office in the Library.
The archives, and hence the catalogue, has grown enormously since 1980. The present Librarian and Deputy Librarian have extended the series created a generation ago and added new classes to reflect research papers not directly related to the working of the Society (S/LIB/9 series – see separate supplementary document), and S/LIB/ARC, containing a record of items archived elsewhere, chiefly on long term loan at the Essex Record Office.
During 2015 papers from Mrs. Elizabeth Sellers and the late Kenneth Mabbitt have been catalogued and added to the archives. Since the publication of the first edition of this document much has changed.
The Society is no longer represented on the Borough Council’s Museum Committee (1986), its Library has moved from Hollytrees to the University of Essex (2000), and, it no longer has a Librarian’s Office at Hollytrees (2013). Producing a updated catalogue allows the interpretation of records and decision making regarding which documents should be accessioned and which should be retained as ‘live’ and working documents of the Society.
Peter Boyden (1980), updated by Andrew Smith (2016).