Posts Tagged 'Army Records Society'

Some more thoughts on an Air Force Records Society

[Cross posted from Thoughts on Military History]

I have written elsewhere there has been some discussion of whether there is a need for an Air Force Records Society. I have prepared a briefing paper that has been sent round to various people working in the field. However, I thought I would post part of it here to try and gain further ideas on this project. I am interested in any thoughts people may have on this.

Overview

Both the Royal Navy and Army have a Records Society. To date the Naval Records Society, founded in 1893 by leading figures including Professor Sir John Knox Laughton, has published over 150 volumes. The Army Records Society has published thirty-one volumes to date. Both organisations have been successful in promoting the history of their respective services by bringing together collections of documents to highlight the past.

The history of British air power is now more than one hundred years old. An important question exists, should there be a records society that deals with the Royal Air Force. The RAF and its predecessors, the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service, have a rich documentary heritage that should be preserved. The society would provide a valuable source for serving officers, scholars and all those interested in British air power history and the development of air power generally.

As noted below publications could include a variety of strands. However, to begin with there are several obvious sources that could be explored. These included the papers of Lieutenant General Sir David Henderson or Marshal of the Royal Air Force Viscount Trenchard. Possible unpublished memoirs include the fascinating work written by Air Marshal Sir Edgar Kingston-McCloughry, which is a refreshing honest and critical work that was never published, and languishes in his papers at the Imperial War Museum. There is also the possibility of publishing significant works that are now out of copyright. In addition, it may be worth looking into the possibility of publishing key volumes from the Air Historical Branch Narrative collection.

Aim of the Society

The object of an Air Force Records Society would be to edit and publish manuscripts relating to the Royal Air Force and the Fleet Air Arm, and their antecedents’, the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service, and to reprint works of military interest.

Council/Committee

The society will require a council in order to run it effectively. It should consist of a:

  • President
  • Vice-President
  • Treasurer
  • Secretary
  • Editor
  • Councillors’

Members should come from leading figures in the field of air power history. Terms of service and responsibilities will be laid out in a constitution that can only be revised at an annual general meeting.

Membership

Membership should be drawn from anyone who has an interest in the history of the RAF and FAA and their antecedents’. It is hoped that membership will be drawn from members of academia, the Ministry of Defence the heritage sector, students, serving and retired members of the RAF and FAA.

Possible Volumes

As with the NRS and ARS, the society would look to publish one volume per year. The society would aim to publish volumes that deals with the following areas:

  • Personal Papers
  • Letters
  • Diaries
  • Unpublished Memoirs/Autobiography
  • Themed Documents Collections
  • Miscellany

Challenges

There are several challenges that will need to be surmounted in order to see an Air Force Records Society come to fruition:

  • Setting up a committee
  • Produce a constitution for the society including terms of service for council members
  • Advertising the society
  • Developing a relationship with relevant archival collections
  • Developing a relationship with a relevant publisher in order to produce volumes
  • Receiving proposals for future publications
  • Developing a website

Thoughts welcomed

Has the time come for an Air Force Records Society?

[Cross posted at Thoughts on Military History]

A couple of weeks ago I was involved in a panel discussion on the future of Air Power Studies at the Air Power Workshop held at the Centre for War Studies at the University of Birmingham. I was given the task of talking about some of the issues facing students working in the area of Air Power Studies and entitled it, ‘Air Power Students in an Age of Uncertainty’. A couple of the key issues I raised related to the problems of publishing for emerging scholars in the air power field. The first issue related to the demise of the Air Power Studies series that was published by Frank Cass/Routledge and whether or not there is a future in resurrecting a similar series. Hopefully there may well be.

The other issue I raised was whether or not there was a need to start an Air Force Records Society. Both the Army and the Royal Navy has a records society and given that the history of British Air Power is now more than 100 years old has not the time come for such an endeavour? I think it has. The RAF and its predecessors, the RFC and RNAS, have a rich documentary heritage that should be preserved. If we look at the mission of the Army Records Society this could be easily applied to an air force equivalent:

the object of the Army Records Society is to edit and publish manuscripts relating to the Army and to reprint works of military interest

In terms of the manuscript part of this there are plenty of papers that could be reprinted such as the Papers of Major General Sir David Henderson, which would be an interesting first volume. Of course an obvious volume would be on the papers of Marshal of the Royal Air Force Viscount Trenchard. With regards to works of interest there is a fascinating memoir written by Air Marshal Sir Edgar Kingston-McCloughry which is a refreshing honest and critical work that was never published and languishes in his paper at the Imperial War Museum. There are also plenty of interesting works that could be republished under the auspicious of the society. Given the both the Army and Navy Records Society only tend to publish one volume a year I do not think there is an issue of critical mass with regards to it only being a short-lived enterprise. The other key issue is whether or not there would be enough interest from interested parties.

So the question remains has the time come try to start such an organisation? Would you be interested? I think it has and we must try to preserve the history of the third service.

Thoughts and opinions wanted.


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