The Argus Photo Archives: A Potential Boon to Jewish Historians

Michael Fabricant receiving and award from his father Rabbi Fabricant at Brighton Technical Secondary School.
Michael Fabricant receiving and award from his father Rabbi Fabricant at Brighton Technical Secondary School.

After 137 years of photographing Brighton and Hove’s history The Argus newspaper has teamed up with archivists to launch a special collection of images, some of which document Jewish life in Brighton and Hove.

When The Argus moved to its new home in Manchester Street, Brighton, its enormous collection of historical pictures was archived by Andy Garth and his team at Brighton and Hove Stuff.

The Argus, in collaboration with The Keep (the East Sussex Record Office) and Brighton and Hove Stuff, hosted the launch of The Argus Photo Archive 1929-1992 Sale and Exhibition at The Grand, in King’s Road, Brighton, on 28 April and 9-10 June.

The Keep archive and resource centre in Woollards Way, off Lewes Road, Moulsecoomb, has been working on more than 30,000 images on thin glass slides measuring about 8x11cm, which was a format commonly used by professional photographers during that period.

Pictures from the Exhibition
Pictures from the Exhibition
Argus Archive Event
Argus Archive Event

Andrew Bennett, Brighton and Hove archivist at The Keep, said: “The photographs we are working on were all published in The Argus between 1927 and 1960 and as we have all but one of the original negative registers we can usually identify where and when the photograph was taken and in some cases the people in the photos.

“They are a remarkable record of life in the area and show everything from weddings, sporting events and celebrities to some that simply defy description.

“The glass negatives are very fragile and most were dirty so after they had been moved to The Keep they were cleaned and re-boxed by a team of dedicated volunteers. Once this process had been completed the negatives were passed on to other volunteers for scanning and another team who are transcribing the negative registers.

“These tasks are very labour intensive and work will be ongoing for some time yet.”
New descriptions are being added to The Keep’s catalogue all the time and they hope that all of the descriptions for their photographs will soon be searchable in an online catalogue on their website.

Andrew Bennett, Curator at the Keep at the Argus Archive event.
Andrew Bennett, Curator at the Keep at the Argus Archive event.

In an interview with Our Jewish Story, Mr Bennett, who said the images will also be available to view or buy online, noted that the Argus photographic archive will be of keen interest to historians of the Brighton & Hove Jewish community.

The photographic archive of the Argus is an unparalleled resource which records life in Brighton, Hove, and parts of Sussex between 1927 and the early 21st century.

“Due to the fact that the photographs show all aspects of local life from the mundane to the extraordinary, the original negative registers held at the Keep, along with copies of the newspapers themselves, can explain the stories behind each image.

“As such, these photo archives should prove a rich source for anyone researching the 20th century history of Brighton and Hove’s Jewish community.”

Mr Bennett added that “we’re working to make more of these images and descriptions of them available to the public but we hope to keep adding to our catalogue.  Images published between 1927 and 1960 are largely held at The Keep and images from 1970 onwards (none are known to have survived for the 1960s) are held by Brighton and Hove Stuff (though they do hold some pre-1960 scans too) based on Western Road, Hove.”

Read more about this Keepers of Argus photo archive ready to unveil collection The Argus, 27 April 2017

Argus Archive Andrew Bennett, Rabbi FabricantDownload sample pdf

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