Scanning 1,000 images taken by Hallam Ashley FRPS, for Norwich Castle Museum, and creating a searchable online database

Nigel Larkin and Dr Peter Hoare have recently scanned about 1000 glass plates, acetate negatives, colour slides and prints etc. taken by Hallam Ashley FRPS between n the 1930s and 1980s. These images consist largely of geological, geomorphological and landscape subjects in East Anglia, and they are held at the Norwich Castle Museum as the 'Hallam Ashley Collection'. Three examples are shown above.

This archive includes early photographs of geological exposures and represents an extremely valuable research tool; some images may provide a record of sections that are no longer available, or of those that have changed as a result of active commercial extraction or natural erosion.

Hallam Ashley FRPS (9 July 190024 October 1987) played a particularly important part in the provision of such photographs, especially of sites in East Anglia. Remarkably, many of his images were obtained opportunistically, as it were, whilst carrying out other duties. The bulk of his work is held by the National Monuments Record in Swindon, Wiltshire.

Nigel and Peter worked their way through the whole archive, scanning all varieties of media to digitally capture the images and transcribing all Hallam Ashley's notes to create a searchable database so that all the images and associated information are now available online through the Norwich Castle Museum website. In the process, the specimens were brought all together in one place; were re-ordered; put in to better storage media; and by being scanned and transcribed, all the images and notes are now searchable, browseable, and 'backed-up'. Until such archives are digitised they remain inaccessable, often unknown, and sadly vulnerable. Poor storage conditions, accidents and mis-filing of information over time are some of the many threats such collections face.

A research paper will be published in a geological journal soon describing and drawing attention to this collection of beautiful and useful images.

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We are members of the United Kingdom Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, and committee members of the Natural Sciences Conservation Group.

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