Gaining valuable experience working on the Town Hall Photographers’ Project at Manchester Central Library was a fantastic opportunity. As I am studying History at A-level and hopefully degree level, I was thrilled at the chance to gain a new insight into the past and to further my understanding of History. The digitisation project is thoroughly enjoyable and it is fascinating to transform old negatives (mainly 35mm) into modern photographs.

Digitising 200,000+ glass and film negatives from 1959-2000 is a large task and the volunteers at Archives+ have worked their way through the archives and are now up to 1971.  Some amazing images have been found and many of these can be viewed on the Archives+ Flickr account.


The first day was primarily understanding my role in the project and learning how to digitise the photos. The photos which I digitised on this day all came from the year 1971, which was interesting as it gave me an insight into the lives of previous generations through photographs, compared to my own life. I had to learn how to use the scanner, which was vital as it would determine the quality of the photo. Through the black, white and grey sliders on the histogram, the contrast of the photo was set to the optimum levels. From the negatives book, I transcribed the data onto the spread sheet so it could be uploaded to the archive catalogue called Calm, this would enable these records to be searchable and accessible.


On the second day, I went into the photographic strong room to find some negatives which appealed to me. The room was small and I only had a limited time to choose the negatives. Eventually, I found some glass negatives which seemed interesting and decided to choose those. This is the box which I digitised on the third day.


Below is one of the photographs I digitised, which captured my eye due to the broken castle in the background, a war memorial, one of Cadbury’s chocolate shops and lastly a chip shop. Also, it was fascinating to see the clothes of the people from previous generations, how different it is from a modern perspective.


On the final day, I went into strong room one, where I saw three priceless rare books. The first was the Roman Codex (law) from the 13th century. The second was Shakespeare’s Second Folio, containing his complete works in 1632. Finally, we saw the Nuremberg Chronicle, which contained the history of the world from creation to 1493. It is one of the first books to use mixed woodcut illustrations with text, which would have been very expensive and time consuming to produce.