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George Palmer Putnam collection of Amelia Earhart papers


Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

Flying Career

Personal and Family Life

Business Activities




Oversized Materials

Contact us about this collection

George Palmer Putnam collection of Amelia Earhart papers, 1785-1948 | Purdue University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections

By Sammie Morris

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Collection Overview

Title: George Palmer Putnam collection of Amelia Earhart papers, 1785-1948Add to your cart.

Predominant Dates:1928-1937

Primary Creator: Earhart, Amelia (1897-1937)

Extent: 16.5 Cubic feet

Arrangement: Whenever possible, original order of the materials has been retained. All materials have been housed in polyester sleeves, acid-free folders, and acid-free boxes. All newsprint has been photocopied and in most cases original newspaper clippings have been discarded. Some clippings containing images of people or color graphics, or front pages of newspapers, have been preserved for display purposes, with photocopies made available for research. Oversized maps, blueprints, diagrams, certificates, and other printed material; photographs; and artifacts have been separated and grouped into individual series for preservation purposes

Date Acquired: 00/00/1940

Subjects: Aeronautics, Air pilots--Indiana, Earhart, Amelia, 1897-1937, Elliott, Edward C. (Edward Charles), 1874-1960, Flight Archives at Purdue University, Flight training--Indiana, Stultz, Wilmer, Transatlantic flights, Women's Archives at Purdue University

Forms of Material: Aeronautical charts, Clippings (Information artifacts), Contracts, Correspondence, Manuscripts (Documents), Pamphlets, Photographic prints, Scrapbooks

Languages: English, French

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The George Palmer Putnam Collection of Amelia Earhart Papers (1785-1948; 16.5 Cubic ft.) documents the personal life, aviation career, and business activities of pilot Amelia Earhart. The Papers are divided into seven series:


Flying Career, 1927-1938; n.d.: The Flying Career series documents Earhart's major flights and flying activities and is divided into the following subseries: Contracts and Licenses, 1927-1935; Friendship Flight, 1928; National Women's Air Derby, 1929; Women's World Speed Record, 1930; The Autogiro, 1931; Solo Atlantic Flight, 1932; Transcontinental Speed Record, 1932; Ligue Internationale Aviatrix Trophy, 1933; Hawaii Flight, 1935; Mexico Flight, 1935; Admission of Women Pilots in ALPA [Air Line Pilots Association], 1935; World Flight Attempt One, 1937; World Flight Attempt Two, 1937; Disappearance and Search, 1937-1938. Types of material include licenses, contracts, correspondence, advertisements, maps, awards, certificates, printed material, permits, flight logs, passport, authorizations, charts, press releases, newspaper clippings, information on AE's airplanes and flights, receipts,works of art on paper, philatelic materials, ephemera, notes, information on pilot Ruth Nichols, reports, flight information, charts, data sheets, resolutions, ephemera, diagrams, blueprints, and documentation relating to the disappearance and search for Amelia Earhart. All correspondence has been arranged chronologically by subseries. Letters sent to and from George Palmer Putnam have been retained with AE's flight correspondence, as he often wrote on her behalf as her manager.


Personal and Family Life, 1917-1937; n.d.: The Personal and Family Life series documents the private life of Amelia Earhart and is divided into the following subseries: Writings by Amelia Earhart, 1917-1937; Family Documents & Correspondence, 1897-1948; Correspondence, General, 1926-1939 ; Ephemera and Miscellaneous, 1924-1937; Press, General, 1927-1936. Types of materials includewritings by Amelia Earhart, such as notes, drafts, notebooks, school assignments, poems, and drafts for short stories, speeches, articles, and books (including manuscript for Last Flight); family documents, including genealogical information, correspondence, high school diploma, and financial and legal documents such as Earhart's last will and testament, marriage certificate, pre-marital agreement, and information on the settling of her estate; and general correspondence, primarily with friends and business associates. Included in the general correspondence series are Earhart and Putnam's personal letters to and from Eleanor and Franklin D. Roosevelt (1932-1939). All correspondence has been arranged chronologically by subseries. Letters sent to and from George Putnam have been retained with AE's letters, as he often wrote on her behalf as her manager/husband. Some letters from officials, government representatives, and celebrities were kept by AE with her personal correspondence to be included as "autographs" in her personal scrapbooks…quot;although many of these letters refer to AE's flights, they have been kept part of the Personal series in order to retain the original filing order created by AE. The Ephemera and Miscellaneous subseries includes permits, membership cards, sketches of AE, invitations, poem written about AE, collection of essays on AE by schoolchildren, philatelic materials, and miscellaneous small maps. The Press subseries consists of general newspaper clippings about AE, and her stances on women and aviation.


Business Activities, 1928-1937; n.d.: The Business Activities series documents Amelia Earhart's work as Aviation Editor for Cosmopolitan Magazine, Vice President of the National Aeronautic Association, Vice President of The Ludington Line, designer of clothing for women, and position as Consultant in the Department of Careers for Women at Purdue University. The series has been divided into the following subseries: Cosmopolitan Magazine, ca. 1928-1929; National Aeronautic Association, ca. 1930s; The Ludington Line, 1930-1931; n.d.; The National Airways, Inc., 1933; AE's Clothing Line, ca. 1934; Position at Purdue University, ca. 1935-1937. Types of materials includecorrespondence, business letterhead, flight schedules and brochures, paycheck, ephemera, speeches, printed material, and notes.


Photographs, 1897-1937; n.d.: The Photographs series includes photographic prints of Amelia Earhart, George Palmer Putnam, and others; Earhart's various airplanes such as the Friendship, Kinner Airster, Lockheed Vega, and Lockheed Electra; Earhart's flight in the autogiro; and scenery from various locations all over the world that Earhart visited during her flights. The series documents Earhart's childhood and family, her major flights, and her aviation/business activities. Included in the series is an interesting set of photographs taken by Earhart while on her second world flight attempt in 1937. These photographs were mailed by Earhart to her husband prior to her disappearance. The series has been subdivided into the following subseries: Major Flights, 1928-1937; Aviation Related, 1921-1937; Personal Life and Family, 1897-1920; AE with George Putnam, ca. 1928-1937; Portraits, Sketches, and Miscellaneous of AE, ca. 1928-1937; AE with Other People, ca. 1920s-1937; AE with Her Modernaire Luggage Line, ca. 1930s; Other People and Objects, ca. 1920s-1930s.


Scrapbooks, 1918-1939; n.d.: The Scrapbooks series includes twenty scrapbooks compiled by Amelia Earhart and George Palmer Putnam. The scrapbooks consist of journal articles, newspaper clippings, and ephemera relating to Earhart, her flights, and other activities such as her promotion of aviation and women, her trips, endorsements, position at Purdue University, clothing and luggage lines, and her disappearance.


Artifacts, ca. 1785; ca. 1926-1935; n.d.: The Artifacts series consists of two subseries: Medals, Awards, Coins and Other Commemorative Artifacts; and Personal Belongings. Types of materials include medals, awards, coins, and other honorary memorabilia received by Amelia Earhart for her various aviation accomplishments and personal belongings such as her flying togs, goggles, smelling salts, compact, soap figurines, and a miniature model of her Lockheed Vega airplane.


Oversized Materials: The Oversized Materials series consists of items that were separated from the other series due to their unusually large size. For preservation reasons, these materials are being stored flat in map cases. The materials include maps, charts, diagrams, blueprints, weather reports, newspapers, magazine articles, miscellaneous printed material, works of art on paper (including original sketches and cartoons), diplomas, awards, honors, certificates, invitations, authorizations, oversized photographs, and ephemera. Materials relate to AE's major flights, her business career (including fashion design), and her personal life. Many of the items document the numerous awards and honors AE received for her flying achievements and the flight records she established.

Biographical Note

On September 26-27, 1934, Purdue President Edward C. Elliott heard Amelia Earhart speak at a luncheon in New York on women’s careers and he was so impressed with her talk that he asked if she would visit Purdue and give a lecture for the women students. Earhart spoke at a banquet at Purdue on October 17, 1934, and discussed “Activities for Women After College.” After several talks with President Elliott, a contract was negotiated in 1935, stating that Amelia Earhart would be employed by Purdue as a visiting faculty member. From the autumn of 1935 until her disappearance in July 1937, Earhart served as Consultant in the Department for the Study of Careers for Women and Technical Advisor in the Department of Aeronautics for Purdue.

Earhart was attracted to Purdue because at the time it was the only university in the United States with its own fully equipped airport. She was also impressed that practical mechanical and engineering training was available without discouragement to the women students on campus. At Purdue, Amelia lectured, conducted conferences with Purdue faculty and students, and initiated studies on new career opportunities for women. Perhaps most importantly, she served as an example of a successful modern woman for the female students.

While working at Purdue, Amelia stayed in South Hall (now called Duhme Hall) on campus. South Hall students vied with each other to sit at Amelia’s table during meals. Buttermilk became an overnight favorite beverage on campus because it was Amelia’s choice.

Amelia’s husband, George Palmer Putnam, first planted the idea of a “flying laboratory” airplane for research into President Elliott’s mind. In the autumn of 1935, at a dinner party at Elliott’s home, Amelia outlined her dreams for women and aviation and spoke of her desire to conduct studies on how long-distance flying affected pilots. Before the evening was over, guest David Ross offered to donate $50,000 as a gift toward the cost of providing a machine suitable for the flying laboratory. Further donations totaling $30,000 in cash and equipment were received from J. K. Lilly, Vincent Bendix, and manufacturers Western Electric, Goodrich, and Goodyear. The $80,000 formed the basis of “The Amelia Earhart Fund for Aeronautical Research.” The fund’s primary objective was to enable the development of scientific and engineering data of vital importance to the aviation industry. The Earhart Fund financed Amelia’s “flying laboratory,” providing funds for a new Lockheed Electra airplane specially outfitted for long-distance flights. It was in this plane that Amelia disappeared during her world flight attempt in 1937.

In 1940, George Palmer Putnam donated Amelia Earhart’s papers, photographs, medals, flight jacket, and other belongings to Purdue University. In 2002, Putnam’s granddaughter, Sally Putnam Chapman, donated an additional group of Earhart personal papers to Purdue. These include personal letters, poems, and Amelia’s famous pre-marital agreement. Purdue University Libraries’ Archives and Special Collections owns the largest, most comprehensive collection of materials in the world relating to Amelia Earhart.

Subject/Index Terms

Air pilots--Indiana
Earhart, Amelia, 1897-1937
Elliott, Edward C. (Edward Charles), 1874-1960
Flight Archives at Purdue University
Flight training--Indiana
Stultz, Wilmer
Transatlantic flights
Women's Archives at Purdue University

Administrative Information

Repository: Purdue University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections

Access Restrictions: This collection has been digitized for use. Use of originals is restricted for security and preservation purposes. Please view the digitized materials here: http://earchives.lib.purdue.edu/cdm/search/collection/earhart

Physical Access Note: Use of originals is restricted for security and preservation purposes. Please view the digitized materials here: http://earchives.lib.purdue.edu/cdm/search/collection/earhart

Acquisition Source: George Palmer Putnam and Sally Putnam Chapman

Acquisition Method: Gifts from George Palmer Putnam (Amelia Earhart's husband), 1940; and Sally Putnam Chapman (George Putnam's granddaughter), 2002

Original/Copies Note: For more information please see http://earchives.lib.purdue.edu/cdm/search/collection/earhart.

Related Materials:

MSF 450, Amelia Earhart at Purdue University Collection (1935-1937)

Correspondence, photographs, notes, press, printed material, and ephemera relating to Earhart's activities at Purdue University, 1935-1937. Includes numerous telegrams handwritten by Earhart while at Purdue.

MSP 79, Zelda Gould collection of Amy Otis Earhart correspondence

Letters from Amelia Earhart's mother, Amy Otis Earhart, to Zelda Gould. Includes several framed photographs of Amelia Earhart.

MSP 38, Wilmer Stultz papers

UA 2.06, Edward C. Elliott papers

Amelia Earhart Book Collection: Over 100 books relating to Earhart, including first editions of the three books written by her and a wide selection of children's books located in the Karnes Archives & Special Collections Research Center, Purdue University Libraries

Located at Radcliffe College Library:

A-129, M-129, Amelia Earhart papers, 1835-1977

MC 398, M-129, Amy Otis Earhart papers, 1884-1987

Preferred Citation: MSP 9, The George Palmer Putnam collection of Amelia Earhart papers, Karnes Research Center, Purdue University Libraries

Other Note: Earhart's suede jacket, worn on 1932 solo Atlantic flight (Abercrombie & Fitch, medium brown leather, six buttons with two side pockets, ca. 1930s) is on loan to the Indiana State Museum until February 2017.

Other URL: http://collections.lib.purdue.edu/fa/pdf/earhart.pdf

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Flying Career, 1927-1938; n.d.],
[Series 2: Personal and Family Life, 1917-1937; n.d.],
[Series 3: Business Activities, 1928-1937; n.d.],
[Series 4: Photographs, 1897-1937; n.d.],
[Series 5: Scrapbooks, 1918-1939; n.d.],
[Series 6: Artifacts, ca. 1785; ca. 1926-1935; n.d.],
[Series 7: Oversized Materials, 1915-1937; n.d.],