Malcolm X in Smethwick: Regional daily wins lottery grant to digitise million archive pics

The Express and Star has won lottery funding to begin digitizing an archive of one million photographs dating back a century.

The Wolverhampton-based daily, which is the UK’s biggest regional newspaper, has received development funding of £59,800 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

It is working with the University of Wolverhampton and WAVE (the museums, galleries and archives of Wolverhampton).

The Express and Star said in a statement: “The project aims to carry out vital archiving work, digitise the collection and make the photographs available through a single web portal, allowing free on-line public access to the unrivalled images of local events, momentous and everyday, for the first time.

“Educational and community programmes will also be established to allow local people to use the collection to make sense of their heritage and history.

“The Express & Star photo archive has been described as one of the most important regional photograph collections in the country, including photographs of royal visits and speeches by Prime Ministers, through to images of local ways of life which have since disappeared.

“The collection includes wartime images which were not published due to government censorship and a photograph of American civil rights activist Malcolm X visiting Smethwick in 1965, nine days before he was assassinated.

“Following digitisation, the original images will be transferred to Wolverhampton City Archives where they will be preserved for future generations.”

Work will now begin on developing the project, ahead of a second round grant submission planned for 2015. If that stage is successful, digitisation work could begin later that year. 

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