Photographic Archive – working with donated collections

Tim Bracey, London Volunteer with the Aircraft Team, shares his experience of spending the day with two of our volunteers, Clifford and James who volunteer in our Photographic Department.  They work with out Curator of Photographs, Andy Renwick.

I had a good day with Clifford, James and Andy. Interesting work for sure.

In a nutshell the activities are all around reviewing a donated collection of images (which maybe photograph prints, slides etc) and categorising them into aircraft manufacturers (at least in this initial phase). The collection that James and Clifford are currently working-on has many hundreds of black and white prints, many of which are already grouped by aircraft type in very neat box files, with cardboard dividers. My first task was to take a selection of un-categorised prints and annotate on the back in soft pencil (so it does not mark the photo) the manufacturer and type. So with the help of reference books (the room has many of these e.g. Jane’s All the World Aircraft 1968-9), I was able to do this, happy that I could get some 70% named un-aided and then the rest via the reference books and a few where I had to ask Clifford and James!

Later we went and got 5 more boxes from the same collection and reviewed these. They were civil aircraft and were already very well categorised and split by dividers. It was interesting to see many British Airways aircraft (Tridents, Boeing 737’s/747’s etc) photographed around Heathrow. Even the Concorde I was lucky enough to fly on to New York back in 1988!

See a couple of photos illustrating some of the work.

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So many thanks to James and Clifford