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Shropshire Star comment: Keep our history alive

By Shropshire Star | Opinions | Published:

When historic buildings are demolished or lost by some disaster like a serious fire, a shudder goes through those who cherish our collective heritage.

Shrewsbury Castle

These incidents are small historical tragedies, another diminution of our surviving past, and a robbery from the legacy the current generation has to pass to all future generations.

This is an issue which extends beyond brick, stone, and mortar. You may have had the joy and fascination of looking through an old family album. Should a relative pass on, and that album is lost, then so many memories are lost along with the knowledge of what an ancestor looked like.

Here we report the news every day and play our part in writing the first draft of history. Over the decades we have accumulated a huge store of unique photos recording life and events across our patch. A continuing partnership with the University of Wolverhampton and Wolverhampton City Archives is ensuring those prints are being made available to the public through an online platform.

And now we’re moving to the most dramatic period of all covered by our invaluable collection – the Second World War. Our photos spanning this period are now being digitised so that the public will be able to view them.

With such historic documents digitisation is both the cavalry coming over the horizon, and also the enemy. Making these photos widely available will help ensure those images are preserved. Old photographic prints are very durable if properly kept, but you never know what might happen, and if there’s only one copy of an image, there is inherent vulnerability.

So in our case, digitisation is a potential saviour and guarantee. But more generally, it is something that worries archivists today, who warn of a digital dark age.

Consider all the pictures you are taking on your phone. You may take hundreds, and enjoy them while you have the phone. Then you update the phone. You’re probably not going to bother to keep the pictures.

Enjoy our fascinating, wonderful, historic images. And help keep our history alive.

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