Legacy of an Aviation Legend
Creating Access to Archival Collections at the Igor I. Sikorsky Historical Archives
When you mention the name Sikorsky, most people think ‘helicopters.’ But in fact, Igor Sikorsky was an aviation pioneer in multi-engine and fixed-wing aircraft as well. Born in Kiev, Russia (now Ukraine) in 1889, Sikorsky had already built the largest seaplane in the world, constructed an early prototype of the helicopter, and broken many aviation records when he arrived in America in 1919.
Sikorsky Archives Scrapbook Project
Dedicated to preserving the history of Sikorsky’s life and careers in aviation, the Sikorsky Archives in Stratford, CT is largely staffed by dedicated volunteers, and is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, independent of Sikorsky Aircraft.
The Sikorsky archival materials are mainly accessible to researchers worldwide through the Archives' web presence, so the staff’s preservation efforts have focused on digitization of the collections, as well as conservation treatment.
Some of the oversize and most fragile materials were sent to NEDCC for digitization, including Sikorsky’s personal scrapbooks, which contain newspaper clippings and articles about his own successes as well as other aviation news of the time.
NEDCC’s photographers, experienced in the care and handling of rare and fragile materials, were able to image even the very largest volumes in the Center’s oversize imaging lab, and then run OCR (optical character recognition) analysis on the images to produce full-text-searchable files.
As with many scrapbooks of this period, the paper has become acidic and the adhesives have stained the paper, obscuring the text in some areas. While the scrapbook’s bindings are stable, the contents are so fragile that the Archives’ staff has avoided opening them, and researchers have not had access to their information. Some of their contents remain largely unknown, and there are mysteries that may be solved after the digitzation and OCR analysis is complete.
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