Egbert E Smart Collection

Scope and Content

This collection comprises six registers, recording the details of photographs taken by Egbert E. Smart, Borough Photographer for the Borough of Dagenham, as well as 23 albums of contact prints and 16,000 photographic negatives, showing the activities of the local authority, and various aspects of life in Dagenham, including resident housing, public buildings and events from 1951-1977.

Administrative / Biographical History

Egbert E. Smart (19th April 1907-1999) won a scholarship to St. Olave's Grammar School, London in 1918. From 1925 until 1928 he attended University College School of Librarianship, where he received the Sir John McAllister Medal for Best Student. He went on to work at the Medical Society Library.

Mr Smart began work on a temporary basis for the Dagenham Public Library Service in 1941, due to staffing crisis occasioned by World War II (1939-1945). Mr Smart was deferred from wartime service due to medical reasons. He became a Fellow of the Library Association in 1944, and was put in charge of Wantz Library, then a new branch the same year. He transferred to Rectory Library in 1960, where he remained until his retirement in 1972. The Dagenham Branch Libraries were pioneering, regarding each as cultural centres. Egbert Smart was the local contact for the Rectory Music Circle and Fanshawe Film Society.

Smart's interest and talent in film and photography lead to the him becoming Dagenham Borough's Photographer in August 1951. His role was to snap every aspect of the Borough's life; people, their work, and social activities. Various Dagenham Borough Council departments (predominantly the Housing department, Engineering department, and Library Service) requested the services of Mr Smart, on the understanding that developing and processing was carried out by professional photographers (Vincent Ltd, Ilford), and that requests for his services were made in writing to John Gerard O'Leary, the Chief Librarian. Smart also took photographs of Dagenham views to create an historic record of the changing landscape. As a consequence, thousands of photographs were taken that otherwise could not have been afforded.


The orginal order of this material has been retained.

Access Information

This material is open to research and can be viewed at the Barking and Dagenham Archive and Local Studies Centre. To make an appointment to visit the reading room, please telephone 020 8227 2033 or email at


Catalogued in accordance with ISAD(G).

Other Finding Aids

For further information about the contents of this collection, please contact the Barking and Dagenham Archive and Local Studies Centre telephone 020 8227 2033 or email at

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright of the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham. For further information about our reprographics and publication charges, please visit our website

Custodial History

Egbert E. Smart was employed by the Dagenham Borough Council Library Service, the head quarters of which was once based at Valence House.The records hence have always been held in the store room of Valence Library.


The acquisition of additional material is not expected.

Geographical Names