Digitising the Story of British Jazz

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The National Jazz Archive, the UK’s most comprehensive archive of historical written and visual material relating to jazz music (pictured above), has recently completed its three-year HLF-funded digitisation and online archive project - The Story of British Jazz.”

The recently launched The Story of British Jazz website and digital archive charts the evolution of British jazz music from the 1920s to the present day, allowing online access and searching through fascinating photograph collections, programmes, journals and other resources.

We are delighted that TownsWeb Archiving was able to contribute to the success of the project through our expert digitisation services and PastView digital archive management software

Project background: Cataloguing, Conservation & Digitisation

The Story of British Jazz project started in 2011, following a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £311,000 being awarded to the National Jazz Archive (NJA) to catalogue, conserve and digitise parts of its unique collection, as well as make the archive more accessible by publishing it online.

Scanning the National Jazz Archive collection

For the digitisation phase of the project our Imaging Technicians scanned over 1100 journals, programmes, photographs and posters from the NJA; using our bespoke gentle digitisation equipment and approved archival handling procedures to ensure none of the precious materials came to harm during the process.

The items were captured to high resolution RGB Baseline master TIFF format for archival preservation, with photographs captured at a resolution of 600dpi and posters and written materials captured at 300dpi. From those master images web-friendly surrogate JPEG format files were then produced at 80% quality for use on the Story of British Jazz website.

In addition, our team also created multi-page PDF documents from the scans of the NJA journal and programme collections, to enable easy offline browsing and keyword searching through those volumes.

Once all of the materials had been digitised and quality checked, our developers imported them into NJAs installation of our PastView digital archive management system.

Jazz Archive digitised journals

Publishing the Archive online with PastView

NJA chose our PastView system to organise and manage their digital archive, and publish it on The Story of British Jazz website.

Our Developers custom configured the PastView system for NJA, this included:
• Importing all of the digital image files and their respective metadata (including OCRd text) into the system
• Organising the images into collections & sub-collections specified by NJA
• Integrating PastView with the Story of British Jazz archive website

PastView also powers the search facility on the Story of British Jazz digital archive website using its Elastic Search feature – allowing jazz historians and researchers to keyword search across a plethora of metadata fields in the archive virtually instantaneously. Via one search box on the website users can search for keywords within file names, image titles, collection titles, and even OCRd text within digitised written documents.


The National Jazz Archive website

 A Jazz Heritage success story

Speaking on the outcomes of The Story of British Jazz heritage project, Project Manager Angela Davies said:

“The Story of British Jazz project team successfully delivered a dynamic programme of activity, which has significantly raised the profile of the Archive, created an infrastructure for the sustained management and preservation of its unique collection and encouraged greater interaction with the Archive. This could not have been achieved without the enthusiastic support from the trustees, volunteers and partner organisations.”

Explore the Story of British Jazz archive…

You can now view The Story of British Jazz digital archive here. You might also find our recent guide on Sources of Funding for Digitisation projects interesting.