The story of our Slide Archive
The slide archive was begun in the 1970s. Tony Hill a member of the Executive Committee and a group of other members of the Society, began to collate images which reflected the town and the changes that were taking place.
By the mid seventies when, at his suggestion, the Society began to make Conservation awards to structures and projects in the town, Tony felt it was necessary to photograph them for display during judging and the award ceremonies.
This increased interest in the changing town meant that he determined regularly to take colour slides around the place to trace the manner in which the town was evolving. Other members with a similar interest also contributed from time to time.
Ruth Serjeant, former County Records Archive assistant, and also a member of the Executive began the process of cataloguing the slides and continued to do so until well into the new millennium. It was her assiduous attention to the minutiae of the collection, which led to such a comprehensive catalogue and detailed indexing of the slides. The six thousand cards, pencilled and arranged by number are a masterpiece in themselves.
Other members of the Society who were involved in a variety of ways included Margaret Michael, Norman Collinson, Don Chipperfield and Brian Jepson. A further spur to the collection of images was the effect of planning matters when it was felt that photographic records were of vital significance.
Around the time of the fiftieth anniversary of the Society the keepers of the collection considered it was necessary to make the wealth of the image resource available to a much wider audience. They considered there needed to be access from the World Wide Web to the images and so digitisation of the resource was explored.
Chris Wiltshire embarked on the lengthy and time-consuming process. He says that he drifted into the project, having previously obtained an automated slide scanner. This enabled generally speedy and reliable digitisation, although antiquated formats and worn paper mounts created some interesting problems at times. After an experimental period, during which such matters as scan resolution and working practices were decided, work began in earnest in April 2011.
Tony Hill, who had responsibility for holding the collection, cleaned the slides in batches, collated and packed them into slide carriers. These were delivered to Chris for scanning. He then carried out basic post scan editing, colour and exposure correction and numbering. The scanned images were assigned files and were transferred to disc for safe storage. One year later the project was complete and the resulting scans on a single DVD-ROM were presented to the Ipswich Society.
The card index was laboriously transferred to a database last year and the final move towards publication was made. There seemed, after a great deal of research and investigation, only one easy option which would enable the public access to the collection and that was the use of the Flickr website.
Once the slides and the index cards associated with them were in a safe digital form, the Suffolk Record Office quite gratefully accepted the artefacts themselves. They had encumbered various people's homes for too many years and latterly were not especially well secured: now both slides and cards will be safe for the foreseeable future.
The process of matching index cards to the images was begun in the summer of 2012 and has made slow progress since then. The reception to the early tranches of images appearing on Flickr has been one of nostalgic fascination and great local interest. It is important, therefore, that the process continues to stir the population of the town and to "illustrate people's memories" to quote one comment on the website (Flickr enables comments and contributions). It is felt that a slow release of slides is the best way forward with the associated data being applied before proceeding to the full release.
What are needed now are some volunteers happy to continue the process of combining data and images. If you feel you could devote a short amount of time to the slide collection by attributing data to individual slides (there will be some training available) then we should be grateful if you would contact the Hon. Secretary of the executive: email@example.com
You can visit the slide collection on Flickr here.
Since the completion of the original archive there have been further additions of small but valuable collections. We now have slides from Peter Underwood, Dr. Steed and from Keith Wade the archaeologist. Although they do not have the detailed data associated with them, they too have been digitised and await accession to our burgeoning collection.
It is gratifying that goodwill and volunteer labour has meant that the project has been accomplished at minimal cost. If the scanning had been assigned to a commercial company each slide would have cost at least £1 to archive!