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We conserve and make accessible BT's heritage, going all the way back to 1846. We document and preserve the story of the world's oldest communications company.

We’ve been recognised by Arts Council England and UNESCO UK for the quality and significance of the documents, photographs and films we preserve. Also, in July 2016 The National Archives announced that BT Archives had been awarded accredited status by the UK Archive Service Accreditation Committee.

The BT Digital Archives was developed through the New Connections project, a £1 million collaboration between Coventry University, BT and The National Archives, to bring an important part of this unique archive and innovations story to a global audience. It was funded by JISC under Strand B: Mass Digitisation of their Content programme between November 2011 and July 2013.

The project aimed to digitise a core part of BT’s archive collection from 1846; almost half a million photographs, reports and items of correspondence preserved by BT over the past 167 years including over:

  • 45,000 photographs and pictures, c1865 - 1982
  • 190,000 pages from over 13,500 research reports, 1878 - 1981
  • 230,000 documents from over 550 policy and operational files, 1851 – 1983

BT's archive of work undertaken at the Post Office Research Station at Dollis Hill, and later at BT's research laboratories at Martlesham Heath, is acknowledged to be particularly significant as a record of British scientific effort, often overlooked in research into the history of science and technology. For this reason it was established at an early stage that the entire research archive from 1878 to 1981 would be catalogued, digitised and published online as a key part of the BT Digital Archives. Specific collections are detailed in the collections showcase.

Overall these remarkable collections showcase Britain’s pioneering role in the development of telecommunications and the impact of the technology on society. It’s freely available under a Creative Commons licence to encourage sharing and the use of the material in education curricula and research.

Not all of our archive is digitised by any means. Combined with the public catalogue of our whole collection BT Digital Archives provides an introduction to the wider collection which is available to researchers at the BT Archives in London.

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