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A future for TARA - The Aerial Reconnaissance Archives

16 June 2008

The Aerial Reconnaissance Archives (TARA) are made up of over 10 million photographs, from images of Second World War Allied and German aerial reconnaissance, to RAF aerial photography around the world up to the 1990s.

Over 100,000 canisters of film and boxes of prints are being transported by articulated lorry from Keele University, the home of the archive for the last 45 years, to storage facilities near Glasgow and the RCAHMS premises in Edinburgh. The sheer size of the archive will see the relocation process continue for several months.

The move is part of a joint initiative between RCAHMS, The National Archives and Keele University to secure TARA's future long-term preservation and continued development. The transfer of post-war aerial photography from the Ministry of Defence is also expanding the imagery held by TARA.

RCAHMS has a track record of effective archive management of large collections of aerial imagery, and is a world leader in the delivery of heritage information and digital imagery on-line. RCAHMS already holds collections of RAF and Ordnance Survey aerial imagery of Scotland.

Lesley Ferguson, head of collections at RCAHMS said, “We look forward to opening up access to this truly amazing archive. It is awe-inspiring in its scope.  The haunting images of World War Two are a largely untapped resource with tremendous potential for the public, teachers, historians, archaeologists and landscape historians.  It covers the world from 1939–45, from the destruction or endurance of Europe’s major cities, to theatres of war in Africa and the Far East.  Aerial photography can bring into sharp perspective the scale and effects of war and also the minute details.”

The move will be completed later this year and will enable TARA, after a period of assimilation, to be preserved, further digitised and made accessible to the general public.

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