ID: 146

HAY, David


Archivist at BT for over 25 years, developing the collection into a leading UK business archive. Also a trustee/director of the Sainsbury Archive Trust, a retail business archive collection. Previously worked in the public sector at Lancashire Archives and Monmouthshire Archives.


New Connections ; The BT Digital Archives Project

Brief summary:

Presentation on the £1 million collaborative project , 2011 - 2013 to digitise and publish online a substantial proportion of BT’s archive of photographs and historical documents, bringing over 165 years of UK telecoms heritage to the public’s fingertips in the form of an interactive online archive and a major new online digital research resource.


BT's archives are recognised by UNESCO and Arts Council England as internationally significant, and an important part of the UK's cultural heritage. The collection documents the history of the UK's role in the development of telecommuncations and the impact of this technology on society

Jisc - who provide digital services for UK education and research - funded a collaborative project between Coventry University, BT and The National Archives to create a searchable digital resource of almost half a million photographs, images, documents and items of correspondence preserved by BT since the company's foundation in 1846.

The project was one of the largest of its kind, certainly amongst business archives, and a unique collaboration between the private, public and academic sectors. It brought together those with expertise in heritage management and serious games technology, and academic experts in design, language, computing, education and learning resources.

The presentation will cover the background to the project, its launch in 2011, and the intellectual control and logistics required to prepare, digitise and present online almost 500k scanned documents.

The paper will also explore the different objectives of the three partners in the collaboration, how far these were met, and the many lessons learnt over the 18 months of the project,

It will also include a description of the features of the final product launched in July 2013,, and aspirations for taking the project further.

Scientific contribution:

BT Archives not surprisingly includes a significant proportion of science and technology records. These include the entire BT research archive between 1879 and 1981, a record of over a century of scientific endeavour in communications technology.  The research archive was successfully nominated for inclusion in the UNESCO UK Memory of the World Register in 2011. This collection has been digitised and published online as part of this project.

The project itself exploited the expertise in Coventry University's 'Serious Games Institute', a centre of gaming technology expertise. Software designers and engineers at the SGI developed an interactive gateway to the BT Digital Archives aimed at a wider community beyond the core target academic audience.

The core system platform is the first application in the UK in an archives context of a new product by a recognised archives software supplier.


Digitisation; metadata;research;telecommunications;learning;