The Aviation and Aerospace Archives Initiative

Documentation Subcommittee

Documentation Subcommittee meeting, The Black Shed, TAG Farnborough, 13 June 2019

Present: Malcolm Fillmore, Barry Guess, Andrew Lewis, Mike Rogers

1.      Purpose

The purpose of the subcommittee is to draw up sector specific documentation relating to the care and documentation of archives held by a range of organisations, businesses and individuals. The advice needs to be applicable to all parts of the sector (businesses, museums and enthusiasts), and to be clear, practical, pragmatic, and accessible to non-archivists.

2.      Identified Needs for Documentation

A range of links had previously been circulated by MR, and the group discussed a range of potential advice.  MR suggested that the existing Religious Archives Group advice could form an excellent model, subject to some of the terminology being suitably adapted for a new audience.

The following were identified as core advice required:


o   Archival/museum

o   Technical terms – to aid discoverability


o   Ethics

o   Provenance

o   Transfer of title

o   Recording of copyright

o   “Collecting policy” – moving things around as a result of this initiative

o   Is it original, secondary etc.

o   Digital

o   Specific depositor requirements, sensitivities etc

o   Non-aviation material

o   Gifts vs loans  terms/periods


o   Needs to be simple but done well

o   Collection based, not subject



o   ISAD(G)

o   cf Definitions

o   Restrictions on access


o   Buildings

o   Standards

o   Realistic practical tips

o   Sustainability of site – Plan B if not owned

Collection Care

o   Practical and realistic

o   Materials

o   Pests

o   Environment


o   Supervised access - why

o   Retaining items on site

o   Publicity and discoverability

o   Protocols re access for bona fide researchers, e.g. Prior arrangements to visit – what info required from visitor (e.g. what will material be used for?)

o   Taking own digital photographs – where material not restricted

o   Reproduction

GDPR etc

Copyright (acknowledgements, takedowns etc), Intellectual Property Rights & Commercial confidentiality. Restrictions and closures.  Liability and responsibilities


o   Practicalities

o   Do not throw originals away!


o   Small-scale collectors – what happens when they die?

o   Organisations lacking long-term security of tenure.

Case studies e.g. awareness of Business specific issues


o   Deposit

o   Reproduction

Further Reading and online resources

The advice needs to tie in with SPECTRUM Guidelines, as museums will be more likely to have/aspire to Museum Accreditation rather than Archive Accreditation, given the emphasis of their collections.

It needs to take into account Commercial aspects - company and product confidentiality (sometimes subject matter rather than age, sometimes) – for BAE and other companies.  Public info separate.  Legal and insurance aspects.

It must reassure custodians that we are not going to take away their archives.

It must encourage enthusiasm.

It must keep advice simple, comprehensible, practical and clear – valid for all parts of the sector.


·        MR to adapt existing RAG advice and circulate to Subcommittee members for comments

·        BG to work on Business specific issues

·        MF to work on researcher/publisher issues

·        AL to collate core documentation aspects of SPECTRUM so that they can be compared with archive standards

3.      Timescales

Work on actions over the summer.  Circulate drafts in the autumn and either re-convene, or correspond to discuss comments, changes, further work needed etc.

Aim to have key documentation ready by the time of the proposed conference.

4.      Other issues discussed

Potentially conflicting aims and needs:

·        Heritage

·        Production

·        Operators

·        Research

·        Publication/Broadcast

Essential to know what is held by the various bodies, before moving onto detailed cataloguing – survey.

Discoverability vital.  Need to know what, where [Survey – online database; online catalogues; Accessions Returns]

How far to include archives held abroad – individuals, companies, especially those with UK connections?

Changing usage.  Digital photos rather than originals.  Used to be about the aircraft, now more about the people, why things happened etc.  Occasions rather than just generic images.  Fewer researchers in the field (no money to be made), but leisure-based retirees will continue. 

·        Aircraft

·        Manufacturers

·        Operators

·        Locations etc

·        Persons/Personalities