People and places in the Isle of Man: a photo digitisation project

Manx National Heritage is the Isle of Man government agency responsible for the museums, archives and heritage of an island with a unique history. Its long term plan to digitise its collections of historical photographs took a big step forward when Manx National Heritage commissioned TownsWeb Archiving to undertake the digitisation of two large collections of photographic prints dating from the early part of the twentieth century.

There were some 16,000 prints in total, showing people with Manx connections and places in the Isle of Man, all reproduced in a variety of sizes.

Manx National Heritage Scanning Photographs Manx National Heritage

Managing the technical project

TownsWeb Archiving Ltd, following a site inspection by the Manx National Heritage archive team, won the competitive tender to scan and preserve the contents of the collections as high resolution TIFF files, and to provide low resolution JPEG files for online public access.

TownsWeb Archiving arranged additional overseas insurance and sent its own staff and vehicles to the Isle of Man to pack the collections into archive boxes and transport them to their studios in Kettering to carry out the digitisation process. After preliminary testing, the full digitisation programme got underway, with random image samples sent to the customer for approval during the programme. The client was kept fully informed of progress throughout the project. On completion, the images were sent to Manx National Heritage and the original photographic prints safely returned.

Images were produced at various sizes with target resolutions of 1200 DPI, in master TIFF format for detailed images and JPEG files for thumbnails, and re-supplied on several external hard-drives. Metadata was added from individual photo descriptions written on the packaging.

Manx National Heritage Scanning Photographs Manx National Heritage

A future for the past

‘This was a very interesting and demanding project to work on’ said Paul Sugden, Managing Director of TownsWeb Archiving Ltd.

‘The original printed photographs came in all different sizes and the condition of them varied dramatically.  The output needed to be to a consistently high standard and to a set standard that the Isle of Man National Heritage Team monitored and checked. ‘  Paul Sugden went on to say ‘The project tested our company working procedures, our equipment and our technical staff and we came through it with flying colours.  The fact that Manx National Heritage are happy to recommend us to others fills me with immense pride.’

Explore recent articles