Papers of Amelia Earhart, 1835-1977
Correspondence, photographs, baby books, etc., of Amelia Earhart, aviator.
Language of Materials
Materials in English.
Access. Originals are closed; use microfilm M-129. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.
Conditions Governing Use
Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Amelia Earhart as well as copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.
Extent3.04 linear feet ((4 file boxes, 1 folio+ box) plus 2 plaques, 2 folio folders, 4 folio+ folders, 26 photograph folders, 3 folio photograph folders, 1 folio+ photograph folder, 1 supersize photograph folder, 1 audiocassette)
The bulk of this collection consists of papers about Earhart saved by her sister, Muriel Earhart Morrissey. It is arranged in five series:
Series I, Family papers (#1-6), includes the 1835 passport of Earhart's great-grandfather, Gebhard Harres; genealogical papers relating to the Otis and Earhart families; a few letters and other items of Edwin Stanton Earhart; and miscellaneous correspondence and other items of Amy Otis Earhart.
Series II, Amelia Earhart, 1897-1937 (#7-18f), consists of papers generated during Earhart's lifetime, and include baby books; a few school-related papers; a small amount of correspondence; some writings, most of which concern women and aviation; and programs and awards. Of particular interest is a 1936 letter by Earhart to a young woman who had inquired about career opportunities for women in aviation (see #14).
Series III, Photographs and graphics (#19-46), is divided into two groups: #19-34, which were previously inventoried and cataloged as part of the Schlesinger Library's Microfilm of Photograph Collections (M-54), and #35-46, which were received as addenda and not previously cataloged. This artificial division is maintained in an effort to minimize the confusion which could ensue from the renumbering of the photographs in #19-34, which have been so frequently used and cited by researchers. The two groups together consist of numerous photographs of Earhart, her planes and associates, her family, George Palmer Putnam, and memorial sites. In addition, there is a painting of Earhart's great-grandmother, a drawing of Earhart, and a black-and-white etching of Earhart and Fred Noonan on their sinking plane.
Series IV, Muriel Earhart Morrissey (#47-68), documents some of Muriel Earhart Morrissey's extensive involvement with Earhart's history, memory, and admirers after her disappearance. It includes correspondence re: the disappearance; tributes, biographies, memorials, poems, and sheet music, etc. honoring Earhart; commemorative stamps; and a philatelic catalog.
Series V, Newsclippings, tearsheets, and memorabilia (#69-83), consists of printed material and a variety of artifacts, including a recording of Earhart's voice, medals, buttons, plaques, book inscriptions, leis, a leaf and a rose. Most of the newsclippings have been transferred to the Amy Otis Earhart Papers (MC 398) and integrated with the clippings in that collection for microfilming in one chronological sequence. Muriel Earhart Morrissey's scrapbook of clippings about Earhart and George Palmer Putnam's serialized biography of Earhart remain in this series.
Amelia Mary Earhart was born on July 24, 1897, in Atchison, Kansas, the first daughter of Amy (Otis) Earhart and Edwin Stanton Earhart. Her sister, Grace Muriel, was born three years later. The family moved several times (to Kansas City, Kansas; Des Moines; St. Paul; Chicago) during Earhart's childhood as her father tried unsuccessfully to establish a profitable legal career. Earhart graduated from Chicago's Hyde Park High School in 1916. Edwin Stanton Earhart's increasing reliance on alcohol and his inability to hold a job led eventually to a divorce, in 1924.
In addition to attending a variety of schools (Ogontz School in Greenfield, Pennsylvania, Columbia University, Harvard University), and experimenting with numerous areas of study (e.g., pre-med, French poetry, physics) and types of jobs (e.g., wartime nurses' aide in Toronto, telephone company worker, photographer), Earhart developed an interest in the relatively new field of aviation. While living in Los Angeles she took flying lessons from Neta Snook, pioneer woman pilot, and in 1921 made her first solo flight and bought her first airplane.
After her parents' divorce Earhart moved with her mother to Medford, Massachusetts, where Muriel was teaching. She taught English to immigrant factory workers and in 1926 became a social worker and resident at Denison House, a Boston settlement. During these years she continued to fly at local airfields and in 1927 was offered, and accepted, the opportunity to accompany Wilmer Stultz and Louis Gordon on their 1928 flight to England. She thereby became the first woman to make the transatlantic crossing by air, and an instant celebrity.
Intensely competitive, Earhart participated in numerous air races and held a variety of speed records and "firsts": she was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic solo (1932) and first person to fly solo from Honolulu, Hawaii, to Oakland, California (January 1935), and from Los Angeles to Mexico City (April 1935). Earhart was a mentor of other women pilots and worked to improve their acceptance in the heavily male field of aviation. In 1929 she helped organize the Ninety-Nines, an international organization of licensed women pilots (with 99 charter members) and served as its president until 1933. Married in 1931 to publisher and publicist George Palmer Putnam, Earhart still maintained her grueling nationwide lecture tours, which largely financed her flying, served as women's career counselor at Purdue University, and wrote books and articles on women and aviation. An outspoken advocate of women's equality, Earhart also designed sportswear for women, luggage suitable for air travel, and travel stationery.
Earhart made two attempts to fly around the world in 1937. The first, in March, ended when her airplane was badly damaged on take-off in California. On June 1 she took off from Miami with navigator Fred Noonan, intending to fly around the equator from west to east. On July 2, having completed 22,000 miles of the trip, Earhart and Fred Noonan took off from Lae, New Guinea, for Howland Island. They never reached the island. Despite an intensive search by the United States Navy and others, following radio distress calls, no trace of the fliers or their plane has ever been found.
The numerous Earhart biographies include Mary S. Lovell's The Sound of Wings: The Life of Amelia Earhart (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1989), Doris L. Rich's Amelia Earhart: A Biography (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1989), and two by her sister, Muriel Earhart Morrissey (Courage is the Price: The Biography of Amelia Earhart, Wichita, Kan.: McCormick-Armstrong Publishing Division, 1963; and, with Carol L. Osborne, Amelia, My Courageous Sister: Biography of Amelia Earhart, Santa Clara, Calif.: Osborne Publisher, 1987). Jean Backus has edited a collection of Earhart's letters, based on the Amy Otis Earhart Papers, also in the Schlesinger Library (Letters from Amelia: An Intimate Portrait of Amelia Earhart, Boston: Beacon Press, 1982). For other biographical sketches, see Notable American Women: 1607-1950 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1971), and Dictionary of American Biography, Vol. XXII, Supplement Two (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1958).
The collection is arranged in number series:
- Series I. Family papers
- Series II. Amelia Earhart, 1897-1937
- Series III. Photographs and graphics
- Series IV. Muriel Earhart Morrissey
- Series V. Newsclippings, tearsheets, memorabilia
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Accession numbers: 463, 519, 521, 545, 671, 700, 916, 1060, 78-M147, 80-M194, 82-M142, 89-M210
These papers of or about Amelia Earhart were given to the Schlesinger Library by Muriel (Earhart) Morrissey between August 1962 and November 1989, and by Alma Lutz in January 1963.
MICROFILM OF COLLECTION
The papers of Amelia Earhart and related collections were selected for microfilming in order to provide copies to the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum, and because they are frequently requested by researchers.
- Dates and/or other information have been written on some items by a number of people. In organizing the material, the processor left undated material that was grouped with dated items where it was. All dates and other information added by the processor are in square brackets. Undated items are filed at the end of their respective folders.
- The pages of some items were numbered to aid the filmer, the proofreaders, and researchers. These numbers are in square brackets.
- The film was proofread by the processor and corrections made where necessary. These corrections may disrupt the sequence of frame numbers.
- Some of the material in the collection was difficult to film due to such problems as flimsy paper with text showing through, faded or smudged writing, faint pencil notations, folded clippings, clippings discolored from glue or adhesive tape, or blurred photocopies from tightly bound volumes. The film was carefully produced to insure that these items are as legible as possible.
- In some letters the text on the two inside pages was written in two different directions, and in some the final lines of text and the signature are on page one. In these cases letters were filmed as they appear; pages were not turned and first pages were not refilmed.
- In some cases, enclosures referred to in letters are missing.
- Letters of one or more pages with either the salutation or the signature missing, as well as portions of letters, articles, or clippings, have been marked as fragments [frag.].
- Both sides of postcards were filmed.
- The versos of envelopes were filmed only if they contained a return address or notes.
- Some scrapbook pages had to be filmed more than once because of folded and/or multiple-paged items, such as Christmas cards, clippings, or programs.
- Many loose clippings were mounted by the processor. Clippings from newspapers already on microfilm (according to Newspapers in Microform, United States, Library of Congress, 1973), were discarded after filming.
- All photographs were microfilmed with the collection. They are also available on the microfilm of the Schlesinger Library photograph collection (M-54).
- Some magazines, books, and other multiple-paged items were not filmed in their entirety, but only the pertinent page(s), with the title page where necessary to establish name and date of publication.
- After filming, periodicals were removed to the Schlesinger Library periodical file.
- Copies of this microfilm edition of the Amelia Earhart collections (M-129) may be borrowed on interlibrary loan from the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe College, 10 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138.
For a list of the contents of the Amelia Earhart Microfilm, see the inventory that follows. When requesting microfilmed material, please use the microfilm number (M-129) and the reel number.
- Folders #1f+-32: M-129, Reel 1
- Folders #33-69: M-129, Reel 2
- Folders #70f-83: M-129, Reel 3
There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Amelia Earhart videotapes, 1932-1977 (Vt-54), Amy Otis Earhart Papers, 1884-1987 (MC 398), Amy Otis Earhart Papers, 1944, Undated (A/E11), and Clarence Strong Williams Papers,1907-1971 (A/W722).
The Purdue University Library also has a large collection of Earhart papers. Additional Otis family papers are in the possession of the family and will eventually be given to the Minnesota Historical Society.
- Box 1: folders 2-17
- Box 2: folders 47-67
- Box 3: folders 69-75, 83
- Folio+ Box 4: folders 76m-82m
INDEX OF SELECTED CORRESPONDENTS
This index contains names of letter writers represented in various correspondence folders but not specifically listed in the folder descriptions.
- Cochran, Jacqueline 47
- Connally, John B. 50
- De Carie, Margot 48
- de Schweinitz, Louise 48
- Devine, Thomas E. 47
- French, Edein 48
- Gervais, Joseph 53
- Goerner, Frederick 47, 50
- Holley, Clyde E. 53
- International Women's Air and Space Museum 48
- Kleppner, Amy 53
- Lynn, Evelyne 54
- Mantz, Paul 47
- May, Loma 54
- Mowbray, Eva 54
- National Portrait Gallery 48
- Ninety-Nines 47
- Noyes, Blanche 48
- Palmer, Gordon H. 55
- Pellegreno, Ann H. 47
- Reischauer, Edwin O. 53
- Roosevelt, Eleanor 47
- Royer, Lloyd 48
- Rueckert, Ruth 47
- Safford, Laurance Frye 47
- Saltonstall, Leverett 50
- Stanton, Frank 50
- Sylvester, Arthur 50
- Theil College 47
- Vaeth, J. Gordon 47, 48
- Walker, Agnes 54
- Women's Hall of Fame 48
- Wright, Lucile M. 47, 48
Reprocessed: April 1990
By: Katherine Kraft
- Earhart, Amelia, 1897-1937. Papers of Amelia Earhart, 1835-1977: A Finding Aid
- Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
- Language of description
- Reprocessing and microfilming of this collection was made possible by funds provided by Joan R. Challinor.
- EAD ID
Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository
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