Digitising heritage

Anticipating a future project for the cadets borne out of something I’m handling for work at present, so as they’re similar, I thought I’d make it cadet-specific and see if there were any good ideas out there…

Old albums full of sqn photos over the decades are all fine and good, if you make them readily available for browsing.

CDs aren’t great, because the ability to access them and browse is harder, though they do condense quantity. It’s going to start getting harder to access media such as CDs and USB though (MacBooks no longer have disk drives and mostly only use USB-C).

Does anyone have experience digitising photos and records and have an elegant solution?

Is there anywhere we can send heritage for safekeeping and proper care and cataloguing, such as Air Historical?
This would save old documents just gathering dust and damage over the years when people rarely care about the stuff. Might prevent hoarding.

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the only example i know of is by scanning photos and creating a “alumni” style group on Facebook.

“i was once at 123 (anytown) Squadron” - i have seen a few about and are semi useful in keeping in touch with the “old guard”


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A few useful links if you’re concerned about your archives and GDPR

Is there a TL;DR?

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I feel like “don’t do it” might be a key takeaway :sweat_smile:

in short GDPR protects personal data.
if your name and associated personal data (contact details such as address, phone number or email address, and a face) can be linked it is a breach.

this isn’t always the case however, sharing Alex.corbin123@rafac.mod.gov.uk is not an breach if shared internally as we can find Alex via the O365 directory (sharing it publically could be*)
but sharing his mobile phone number (07754 245876) would be a breach.

by creating an archive which identifies a person in a photo is also a breach, so a photo of Cpl Alex Corbin, former Cadet on your Squadron by name in a caption could be a breach of data as you’re identifying the person by image without getting their permission to do so - Alex is now identified by an image.

some people choose not to use social media and some that do avoid personal photos (we all know one person who never has their own face in a profile photo, and is instead their dog) - by uploading photos and identifying someone in that photo could be consider a breach as they have not consented.

(that isn’t that short and sweet but is how GDPR was explained to me
btw apologies for picking on @AlexCorbin but as an obvious candidate known by all was my “go to” - also the email address and mobile number above are fake)

*the exception here being if that address is already known/in the public domain. My RBL address for instance is readily found on various webpages as I am the POC for my branch events and found on the Branch and HQ website so no need to be secretive about it and so do not expect to be bcc in emails that are sent to me

There’s going to be some potentially grey stuff here, but…

  1. What if the photo had a name attached to it that appears to be original? (or what if it at least predates your possession of it?)

  2. Does this apply only if then putting the image into the public domain? Can you research as a project, but then not release that info? Or display the image with the info discovered excluding name?

  3. What if the individual was identifiable through other publicly available information (i.e. research their medal rack and rank, or the aircraft they are sat in) if that’s how you came about the name - anyone else could have done so themselves if just the photo was displayed.

  4. Where’s the line and allowance for someone being considered an historical figure - a photo of a high ranking officer from 1942, 1962, 1982, 2002, etc?

  5. Also, for such purposes - particularly figures presumed probably or known to be deceased, does there need to be a living relative to object in order to need to remove info, or is express consent required in advance?

  6. If a B&W photo (or any photo tbh) gets posted without a name, and someone from outside goes “oh that’s so and so”, what’s the story there? This one in particular happens all the time on local news and history groups…

all good questions and tbh I have no clue…

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I wasn’t necessarily expecting you to!

All relevant to a lot of the kind of stuff that units will have stashed away or displayed.


So my understanding re the data is that a big factor is the purpose the original data was collected for & that it can only be used inline with that purpose .

So in terms of photos the question is why was the photo taken & has it been publicly published or displayed.

So a photo taken for the purposes of directly identify a cadet in 3822, RoS book on the paper files cannot be used for any other purpose & cannot be retained on unit once the cadet has left as the purpose of identifying that specific cadet is no longer needed.

Photos taken to document & record squadron events and are published in public can still be used for that purpose even once the cadet has left (unless right to be forgotten is invoked). That is because the data is still being used for the original purpose it was collected for.

If the original photo is published & distributed with names then it is okay to do so but what you can’t do is research & add the names & then republish.

The exception to this is if the subject is either
a) 100 years old or
B) dead.

As GDPR doesn’t apply certainly in the case of the latter (hence why the publishing of the medical details of the woman who fell into the river & created a media flurry was not a breach).

So squadron can maintain an archive of camp photos as that fits the original purpose & the don’t have to destroy old photos. I think the only requirement is that you have a register/log for those photos so there is a record of the data held & the purpose for it being taken.

This is why it is really really important that photo consent is checked for any cadet event before photos are taken. Ideally there would be a narker on SMS events similar to the medical so it highlights if photo consent has been withheld. The Sea cadets are really hot on this & I’ve been asked several times at events if my cadets all have photo consent on file - seems to be something we’re not too hot on in air cadet world.

Big events such as the muster & RIAT should be checking this before or as the cadets arrive.


There is if you use the nominal roll report.


At the muster cadets were issued different coloured lanyards. One of the colours (I forget which) indicated no consent for photography.

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I will try and find the Media policy side of it but old Sqn photographs are covered under it providing the original purpose was to be made public. There are a fair few Squadrons around that have been doing heritage type projects where the purpose is to identify the individuals in old photographs so it can be correctly recorded with a date.

I know with our ones we were allowed to publish on social media the photos that had been found and ask who are these individuals. But the record of them had to be on /attached to the photo and not published with the names. It brought up some fantastic conversation and Sqn history we had no idea about. But we notified the Wing we were doing it, they passed across the details on what we can/can’t do whilst doing it,