Photo archive project brings historic photos into the world of technology

Posted Friday, June 19, 2015 by Chris Leggett under News

Volunteers have been sampling sections of the Express & Star photo archive as part of the project to digitise the collection.

Ten enthusiasts have counted the contents of nearly 6500 envelopes to record data on the historic photos.

The Express & Star has a long term plan to digitise photos from the archive. With initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund granted in June last year, the project has entered its second stage and is going from strength to strength.

One of the objectives of the second stage is to better understand the size and contents of the Express & Star photo archive.

In total 10 volunteers have worked on the count, including seven retired local people interested in history and three University of Wolverhampton students who have to undertake volunteer work as part of their course requirements.

In the photo archives there are seven rows, with 35 bays and a total of 258 shelves. Between January and May 14,000 photos were counted in a single bay. In the first stage 5757 envelopes were completed.

The time given by the volunteers between January and May equates to 50 working days.

After analysing the bay, the volunteers are now sampling envelopes from every shelf. In this phase more than 560 have been completed since June 1.

The 10 volunteers that have worked on the project are; Kynan Cummings, Claire Darke, Paddy Davies, Ann Eales, Chris Forrester, Jackie Harrison, Kathy Hughes, Patricia Hughes, Betty McCann and Priyesh Mistry.

Volunteer Paddy said: “The most rewarding part about this whole experience is actually being able to take part in the preservation of all the photos and in turn helping preserve the history of the local area.

“We hope that the technology of today may be able to enhance the photos without losing the initial feel of them.”

Jackie Harrison said: “Going through the photo archive gave us walks down memory lanes, and if it does that for us I imagine it will be the exact same for everyone else.

“One of the most interesting things for me going through the photos is the sheer amount of people that have had their 100th birthday in the newspaper. Most of them were women as well.”

The volunteers use a special web form to record photo data including the location of the envelopes on the shelves, the era covered by the photos and copyright of the photos.

It also asks them to note the condition of the photos and any information attached, such as a newspaper clipping.

Since 2007, the Express & Star has worked on the digitisation project with the University of Wolverhampton, and WAVE: the museums, galleries and archives of Wolverhampton.

The HLF granted £60,000 in June of last year for the multi-organisation panel to create detailed plans of how the photos could be digitised to appear on a free access website.

The money is being used to fund an IT consultant and a project planning consultant.

The data from the count will be processed by the project planning consultants Tricolor, who will use the information to develop plans on how the community can make the most of the photos.

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