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About the Projects

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

"Aviation through the Ages" Film Digitization Project

In early 2020, the Museum of Flight received a funds from the Council on Information and Library Resources' (CLIR) Recordings at Risk grant program to digitize 86 films from its archival holdings and make them accessible via TMOF: Digital Collections. The films, comprised of 16mm, 8mm, and Super8 formats, were largely privately shot, "home-movie" type footage not available anywhere else, which made them excellent candidates for digitization. The selected films span much of aviation history during the twentieth century, from a World War I-era German propaganda piece to footage of the Apollo 13 Command Module recovery in 1970. Other highlights include footage of the Associated Women Pilots of Boeing Field from 1940; home movies from the Boeing family from the 1930s and 1940s; two films of the Aerocar from 1968; Tex Johnston's infamous Dash-80 barrel roll over Lake Washington in 1955; and a variety of clips of commercial airlines and military aircraft. The films, all silent and under 15 minutes in runtime, offer glimpses of rarely seen moments in aviation history.

Digitization of the films was carried out by a vendor specializing in media preservation. Museum staff and volunteers then cataloged the films' content, created metadata, and identified aircraft, people, and locations whenever possible. The project was completed in July 2021.


The Museum of Flight Oral Histories Access Project

Formally established in 2013, The Museum of Flight Oral History Program documents the personal stories of individuals involved in the history of aviation and manned spaceflight. These interviews provide unique insights into the aviation and aerospace realms and give a firsthand perspective of these larger-than-life industries. To date, the Museum has recorded dozens of interviews with professionals from a wide-range of career paths, including pilots, military service members, astronauts, engineers, and executives. Production of these interviews is ongoing and generously funded by Mary Kay and Michael Hallman.

While the oral history collection is available on-site via the Dahlberg Research Center, the Museum is also eager to provide increased access to these one-of-the-kind records. In 2019, the Museum Archives was awarded a Heritage Projects grant from 4Culture to begin processing the interviews, finalizing transcripts, and readying the video files for upload to our digital repository, The Museum of Flight: Digital Collections. Thanks to this financial support, the Archives Team was able to complete processing on the first batch of interviews and make them available online.


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.

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