The World of Digital Archives at Fort Street
They say between the invention of the camera in the 1820s and the rise of digital photography in the early 2000s, the world took an estimated 375 billion analogue photographs. Hundreds of millions of these photographs are held in the archives of museums, libraries, historical societies, cities, schools, newspapers and other organizations worldwide. The Fort Street Archives, holds many physical images and numerous other visual articles as well, from slides and postcards to lithographs, sheet music, and negatives.
The management these physical images has become a little easier recently when the Royal Australian Historical Society (RAHS) President, Christine Yeats, announced that the Fort Street Foundation and Fort Street Archives will receive grant funding from a successful application to the Small Grants Program for Local History and Archives. This grants program is administered by the Royal Australian Historical Society on behalf of the NSW Government through the Heritage Council of NSW.
‘History matters and it doesn’t have to be history on a global or national scale to be important. Focusing on history from the ‘ground up’ is the best way for communities to understand and appreciate their place in the world,’ said Ms Yeats.
Grant recipients of the Royal Australian Historical Society Cultural Grants cover a diverse range of projects including research, publications, and conservation of historic material. A number of digitisation projects, including the project from Fort Street Archives, were funded by the 2020 grants program. Digital technology has revolutionised how we record and practice history. These projects ‘will preserve unique historical collections and expand the range of primary sources available to historians,’ explained Mrs Yeats
The successful Fort Street Archives submission – ‘Fort Street Digitisation Project 1849-1999’ – is to digitise a deteriorating collection of approximately 30,000 images of photos and school information from 1849-1999. They will not only be scanned for preservation of this public asset but also as a digitised resource to assist the community in its research of nationally significant history and the local heritage of NSW.
Iain Wallace – School Archivist