One of the largest archives of its kind in Europe, the Collections Department holds over 250,000 important paper, film and photographic records as well as artefacts relating to the history of aviation and especially the Royal Air Force, French Air Force, RAuxAF, RAAF, RNZAF and RCAF Squadrons during WWll. Items include uniforms, log books, squadron photographs, personal as well as aircraft artefacts and many other interesting items from early flying days right up to the present day. The AirCrew Association Archive Trust and the Air Gunners Association Archive are part of the Museum Collection.
There is always a selection of interesting items from the stored Collection on public display and the department has research and restoration facilities. The Museum Library holds over 6000 specialist books covering technical, reference and historical aviation subjects for research and reference purposes.
The Archive and The AirCrew Association Archive Trust
Formed in 1977, the AirCrew Association, with ACM “Bomber” Harris as its first president, had over 22,000 members, mainly of World War Two veterans. The Association was eventually wound up in December 2011 although their work continues today through the work of the ACA Archive Trust, which continues to help preserve records and documents of the era in partnership with The Yorkshire Air Museum.
The AirCrew Association Archive Trust (A3T) became a Registered Charity on 4 July 2001 with the aim to record for future generations and historians the unique experiences of aircrew, and its formal objective is: “The advancement of public education by the establishment and preservation of a dedicated archive of material from members of aircrew drawn from the military services of the western allies which are of special historical interest.”
Following the transfer of the Air Gunners Association Archive to the Museum in 2001, and following several years of close co-operation the A3T Trustees arranged for the artefacts, records and documents comprising the ACA Archives Collection to be similarly transferred to the Museum. As a Nationally Accredited Museum this ensures that the A3T Archives is given full protection and conservation on behalf of the Nation.
In 2013 the Trust sponsored the construction of a modern purpose built archive building with environmental control and secure storage facilities to hold the Museum Collection and designed to blend in with the existing wartime structures at Elvington. On 24th July 2013, “The Air Crew Association Building” was officially opened by former ACA Chairman, Air Chief Marshal Sir Sandy Wilson and A3T Chairman Air Commodore Jack Broughton OBE DL, and the Museum/Memorial is sincerely grateful to the Air Crew Association Archive Trust who contributed over £200,000 towards the construction and fitting-out of this building which will preserve and maintain records and artefacts for future generations to study.
Records and artefacts continue to be offered to A3T and the Museum Archives, which has become one of the most important collections in its field. Former AirCrew Association members or their families can still arrange for their documents and artefacts to be registered and preserved and are encouraged to contact the A3T Archivist, Air Commodore Graham Pitchfork MBE, BA, FRAeS, RAF (Retd)., or alternatively, the Museum Collections Department under Dr John Wright.