In the three months since the project launched, the American Air Museum’s digital archive has continued to expand, with visitors contributing thousands of stories and photographs to this unique Second World War online resource.
For the initial launch of the website in October 2014, we worked with the American Air Museum (AAM) team at IWM Duxford to create a bespoke digital solution that would preserve the stories of the men and women of the US Army Air Forces (USAAF) who served in Britain during the Second World War. The online resource highlights the fascinating relationships formed between British and American people at this time and the impact this had on both nations.
To enhance the remarkable collection, the AAM team have added a large volume of fascinating new material, much of which has never been publically available until now. mN have been working with the AAM team to complete several updates that should enrich the overall online experience.
English Heritage has donated 700 aerial photographs of airfields, in use or under construction across wartime Britain during 1940-1947. These photographs reveal the velocity at which the English landscape changed when the USAAF arrived in Britain during the Second World War. For example, one image at Duxford’s airfield shows a baseball pitch that is visibly demarcated by the airmen’s footprints, providing insight into the physical and cultural influence of the American presence during this time.
Mike Evans, Head of Archive at the English Heritage Archive said: “The aerial photographs in the care of the English Heritage Archive are a unique picture of the English landscape at a time when the pressures of war changed it out of all recognition. I am delighted that we have been able to contribute some of these images to the American Air Museum website, and so add another layer of information to the rich collections of photographs and memories which are already on the site."
In addition, 5000 new photographs from the Roger Freeman Collection have been added to the site. The new pictures will double the website’s existing content from the Roger Freeman Collection which already forms an integral part of the digital archive collection. The striking images depict the experiences of serving members of the USAAF in a variety of settings from women in the American Red Cross to soldiers in combat missions.
We have been working with the AAM team to update the site’s features and functionality. Following user feedback, we have created a brand new ‘My Activity’ area where visitors will be able to view a timeline of edits and additions they have made when interacting with the digital archive. The map function has been updated with new markers showing cemeteries and aircraft crash sites. The team has also cross-referenced entries for the burials of airmen with the American Battle Monuments Commission, in order to make it simpler to trace a person’s place of burial or commemoration.
It has now been seventy years since the end of the Second World War, and as time goes by the search for wartime contributors becomes ever more critical. As Jenny Cousins, Project Leader at the American Air Museum notes, “we have a last opportunity to capture these stories, to record their testimony and to retain it for future generations”.
There has already been thousands of memories shared using the archive and we are excited to see how many other amazing stories will be shared and preserved as the site grows.
Find out more at www.americanairmuseum.com