Wolverhampton City Archives Express & Star volunteer project

A small selection of the over one million photographs
© Reproduced by kind permission of Wolverhampton City Archives
Volunteers sorting, numbering and repackaging photographs
© Reproduced by kind permission of Wolverhampton City Archives
Before and after
© Reproduced by kind permission of Wolverhampton City Archives

Wolverhampton City Archives are working in partnership with the Express & Star newspaper and the University of Wolverhampton.  The Express & Star is a daily evening newspaper, based in Wolverhampton, which covers a wide geographical area, including the Black Country, Birmingham, and parts of Warwickshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire, as well as Staffordshire.

Wolverhampton City Archives Senior Archivist, Heidi McIntosh, takes up the story.

Our volunteers are working through nearly a million photographs, covering most of the 20th century, which were published in the newspaper.  The photographs are arranged using an idiosyncratic keyworded system, mostly in themed or location-based folders.  There are also separate sections of the collection, including the Royal Family, Sport and Named Individuals.  Currently, these are all stored in the offices of the newspapers, but they are gradually being transferred to the archives where they will be sorted, packaged, catalogued, and digitised, so they can be made available to the public.

Unique and far-reaching

This collection is unique, in that it includes people from all walks of life; photographs of everyday people, at work, at home, going to local events, participating in local sporting competitions, etc.  But, despite being embedded in local people and local families, it is representative of the bigger picture, certainly nationally and in some cases internationally.  These are local people and communities reacting to global changes, including war, recessions, strikes and redundancies.  We are also fortunate in that, very often the corresponding newspaper article or caption is pasted on the back of the photograph, which gives a great deal more context to the photo than we would otherwise have.  Whilst this is a local collection, it has far-reaching implications thanks to people from all walks of life represented.

Our volunteers for this project have been working through the keyworded folders of photographs, checking for copyright, sorting and numbering them, as well as then repackaging the photographs in proper archival folders.  There are also opportunities for listing and cataloguing the photographs, following our Cataloguing Standards.  Although the physical sorting and arranging takes places onsite at Wolverhampton Archives (with a smaller group onsite at the offices of the newspaper in Queen Street), there may also be opportunities in the near future for volunteers to work on listing the collection virtually remotely from home.

Join us

Currently, the core group of onsite volunteers come in on a Thursday morning between 10 and 12 (although you do not have to commit to every Thursday).  In addition to working through the collection, this enables the volunteers to work as a group and discuss any issues they come across.  You are, however, welcome to volunteer outside those times with prior notice.  To find out more details, or to register your interest, please get in touch with Senior Archivist Heidi McIntosh via email. To find out more details about the project, or to view the photographs which have already been digitised, visit the project website.


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