The Bodleian Libraries have been awarded £1.2 million by the National Heritage Memorial Fund and have until the end of February 2013 to raise the remaining £1m to acquire William Henry Fox Talbot's personal archive.
"This rare archive is the only significant Talbot collection remaining in private hands," say the libraries. "It includes the first book illustrated with photographs, some of which are pictures of Oxford, as well as family diaries, early letters and possibly the first photograph ever taken by a woman."
The libraries have launched an online appeal for donations. "Any gift that you can make, of any size, will help us to secure this important collection," they say.
Carole Souter, chief executive of NHMF, comments: "Considered by many as the 'father of photography', the impact of William Henry Fox Talbot's pioneering work is felt daily by all of us whether we are snapping our holidays with a camera or capturing outings on our mobile phones. This collection offers fascinating new insights into Fox Talbot's family life, particularly the wonderful contribution made by the women of his family; this is why the Trustees of the National Heritage Memorial Fund felt it was so important that the archive should be secured for future generations to explore."
If successful in their bid, the Libraries would open the archive to scholars and to the general public from 2017 to allow the legacy of this extraordinary innovator and pioneer in photography to continue to inspire new generations of researchers, innovators and photographers," says RIchard Ovenden, deputy to Bodley's Librarian.
For more details and to contribute, visit the Online Giving website for the University of Oxford.
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