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About the Projects

Many of the items on The Museum of Flight: Digital Collections were digitized as part of large-scale, grant-funded projects undertaken by the Museum Archives. Read about some of our targeted digitization efforts below:

American Fighter Aces Oral History Digitization Project

The American Fighter Aces Association is an organization of military aviators who have distinguished themselves in aerial combat during wartime. For American fighter aces, this means having at least five confirmed shoot-downs of enemy aircraft. The stories of these pilots are told in the documents, photos, and artifacts that make up the AFAA Collection at The Museum of Flight, official home of the American Fighter Aces Association. One of the many highlights of this collection is the Fighter Aces oral histories: recorded interviews with over 120 fighter aces in which they discuss their training, missions, and experiences during the World Wars, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

To preserve and expand access to these unique materials, the Archives Team at The Museum of Flight undertook a digitization project to process, digitize, and transcribe the collection’s 243 audio reels, cassette tapes, and other magnetic media. The project was funded by an anonymous donation received in 2016 and by a 2017 Recordings at Risk grant administered by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) and the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC). This project is currently ongoing, with audio files being uploaded on a regular basis.

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World War I Digitization Project

The centennial of World War I has strengthened and renewed scholarly interest in all aspects of the war and its effects on our world. The war started a mere eleven years after the Wright Brothers took their first flight at Kitty Hawk and in a single decade, aviation technology advanced enough that aircraft and the pilots that flew them became an essential aspect of warfare. Collections related to the technical aspects of WWI-era flying and aircraft, as well as the personal effects and ephemera of WWI pilots, are an invaluable resource for documenting the history of the war.

With this scholarly interest in mind, the Archives Team at The Museum of Flight used a Digitizing Hidden Collections grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to create online access to the Museum's World War I archival materials. This project, completed in 2017, makes finding aids to nearly 50 collections and digital copies of more than 5,000 items widely available. The project is not only a timely commemoration of the anniversary of the U.S.'s entry into the war, but makes available new resources on the history of aviation during the war that will help deepen our understanding and appreciation of the people who built and flew aircraft during this time period.

This digitization project has also been endorsed as an official project by the World War I Centennial Commission.

Council on Library and Information Resources