The University, together with the Express and Star, is applying for funding for an ambitious project to transfer about 700,000 historic images of the area to an internet archive.
Since 1995, the newspaper has been storing all photographs digitally, leaving hundreds of thousands of prints, slides and postcards taken before then – and dating back to the 1930s - in a physical archive.
The lack of a catalogue system for the collection has meant the use of the pictures has declined.
So a bid has been made to the Heritage Lottery Fund for money to begin transferring the images to an online archive, which would be made available to the public.
If successful, the project would see staff and volunteers from the University of Wolverhampton help with the digital transfer of all the prints, all of which will need to be individually scanned in.
The partnership is hoping to be third time lucky with the bid, having had it twice rejected in the past.
But, after taking on board advice from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Express and Star is urging readers to send in letters of support to back up the bid and demonstrate a real desire among Wolverhampton’s community for the project.
It is hoped the bid will be submitted at the end of this year.
Patricia Cooper, Associate Dean of Operations and Enterprise at the University of Wolverhampton’s School of Art and Design, said she was proud to be part of the project.
She said: “It is vital that we preserve this collection to conserve the Black Country’s diverse heritage for present and future generations to experience and enjoy.
“Without digitisation the archive will progressively deteriorate and we will be at risk of losing a valuable resource with all the memories and stories from our personal histories which it holds.”
Tom Graham, editorial executive for Midlands News Association, said: “By making Britain’s biggest selling regional newspaper’s photographs available to the public in a digital format, local people will be able to enjoy this unrivalled document of the past for many years to come.
“The Black Country has undoubtedly one of the richest histories in Britain. We want future generations to be able to share that history by having access to amazing photographs from through the centuries.”
Anyone who wants show support or volunteer to help with the project should write to Chris Leggett, brand and communications manager, Express & Star, 51-53 Queen Street, Wolverhampton WV1 1ES, or e-mail email@example.com.
For more information please contact Chris Jones in the Media Relations Office on 01902 322736
Date Issued: Wednesday 14 August 2013