Appraising and re-housing the Photographic Collection

A few weeks ago Archivist Helen introduced this year’s stocktake. In this post Archivist and Records Assistant Penny McMahon talks about appraising and re-housing the Post Office Photo Library collection (POST 118). This class also contains photographic material created by a number of different departments within the Post Office, including the Public Relations/Communications department and Parcelforce.

We’ve been working on several different deposits such as a collection of photo albums from the 1930s. On first examining the photographs they were not particularly interesting and looked like they mostly, if not entirely, duplicated photographic material already in the archive. However, on closer inspection the photo albums corresponded with lecture training notes in POST 92. The photographs were then kept as they complemented and expanded on items already in the archive collection. Once we decided to keep the photographs they were then taken out of the original folder (making sure to document any metadata contained on or within the folders), placed in acid free Melinex sleeves and placed in acid free photo albums.

A glimpse of the vast photographic collection of POST 118: a junior postman on a motorcycle (POST 118/2040)

A glimpse of the vast photographic collection of POST 118: a junior postman on a motorcycle (POST 118/2040). This example is already part of the collection and has been digitised.

Another item that has been appraised is a large, green, bound album. There is a Post Office Records note pasted to the inside of the front cover, dated 1973. It states that the photographs in the album were taken in Britain during 1934-1939 by John Bryson of the Post Office Film Unit. The album is filled with monochrome photographs that depict male and female Post Office and Telegraph workers in uniform, and going about their daily duties. This album was also kept but needs specialist conservation treatment as the photographs are glued down to acidic-paper pages.


Inside the large green album of photographs from 1934-1939.

More ruthlessly appraised was a collection of slides from the 1980s from the public relations department. These slides included a postcode exhibition display, POCO the Postcode Elephant and the Stamp Bug Land Exhibition 1982, at various venues.

1980s slides.

1980s slides.

-Penny McMahon, Archives/Records Assistant

One response to “Appraising and re-housing the Photographic Collection

  1. Pingback: That a wrap: stock take 2014 | The British Postal Museum & Archive

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