James Carruthers Memorial Aviation Collection of the Institute of Aeronautical History
Collection Scope and Contents
This collection consists of prints and drawings, handbills, photographs, postcards, printed materials (including books, periodicals, bibliographies, journal articles, newspaper clippings, event programs, conference agenda and reports, manuscripts, telegrams, letters, press kits and releases, corporate overviews, investment prospectuses, sales brochures, technical specification sheets, typescript histories, and guides), maps, sheet music, sound recordings, ephemera, and memorabilia documenting the history of aviation, with emphasis on the period from 1783 to the late 1950s.
The prints (both original and reproduction) and drawings document in particular the development of French and British ballooning from 1783 to 1785, British ballooning in the 19th century, and historic U.S. civil and military aircraft, including balloons, dirigibles, and fixed-wing airplanes, 1903 to circa 1950. The materials include portraits of many pioneer balloonists, depictions of famous balloons and fantastic flying machines, representations of the ceremonial and military uses of balloons, and examples the use of ballooning imagery in political satire of the day. They also include many portfolios of reproductions of paintings by Charles H. Hubbell of historic 20th-century aircraft, and computer-generated renderings of a U.S. military "flying wing", circa 1980.
The collection contains photographs and a wide range of printed materials documenting air meets and shows--including the 1910 Los Angeles Air Meet at Dominguez Hills, the 1946 Radlett Air Show, and the 1959 World Congress of Flight--as well as historic flights, in particular, the original records of Cecil Allen and Donald Moyle's 1931 transpacific flight.
The collection also contains extensive photographic, printed, and other materials on pioneer aviators, including Juan de la Cierva, Glenn Curtiss, Amelia Earhart, Arch Hoxey, A. Roy Knabenshue, Charles A. Lindbergh, Clyde Pangborn, Igor Sikorsky, Charles E. Taylor, and the Wright brothers. The materials on the Wright brothers include several photographs and postcards, a toy butterfly purported to have inspired their interest in flight, and a piece of the 1903 Kitty Hawk hangar. Materials relating to Knabenshue include the original printing plates for 32 of the original 56 photographic illustrations in his 1907 book, Compliments of Roy Knabenshue, which documents his activities in ballooning and in the development of the dirigible in the period between 1903 and mid-1907. In addition to photographs, materials on Lindbergh include two metal pieces from the "Spirit of St. Louis" and five 78-rpm sound recordings of his 1927 visit to Washington, DC, upon his return from Paris, and of popular songs and dances composed in honor of his flight. The photographs in the collection also include an 1883 autographed image of the brothers Albert and Gaston Tissandier with their airship, and images of Matilde Moisant and Harriet Quimby.
In addition to individual aviators, the collection contains extensive photographic and printed materials on individual aircraft, aircraft manufacturers, and airlines. Postcards published circa 1930 depict historic aircraft and models in the Science Museum, London, including Henson and Stringfellow's flying machine of 1844-1845, Sir Hiram Maxim's 1894 flying machine, and biplanes by (inter alia) Voisin, Farman, Avro, Bristol, De Havilland, and Fairey. The bulk of the materials relates to aircraft of U.S., British, French, and German manufacture, and dates from circa 1930 to 1960. The materials relating to Consolidated Aircraft (later Consolidated Vultee, popularly known as Convair), are particularly extensive. Other U.S. manufacturers include Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company, Curtiss-Wright Corp., Dayton Engineering Laboratories Co. [DELCO], Lockheed Aircraft Corp., Northrop Aircraft, Pitcairn-Cierva Autogiro Co., and Sikorsky Aircraft Co. The Curtiss materials include complete blueprints (1915-1918) for the JN4D "Jenny"; the Lockheed materials include a June 1936 range study of the Lockheed Electra bimotor airplane (the model used by Earhart on her last flight). British corporations include Bristol Aeroplane Co., British Aircraft Corp., De Havilland Enterprise, Folland Aircraft, Hawker Siddeley Group, Rolls Royce, Saunders-Roe, and Vickers-Armstrongs. French corporations include Hispano-Suiza, Louis Breguet, Marcel Dassault, S.N.C.A.S.E., S.N.C.A.S.O., and S.N.E.C.M.A.. Materials relating to German corporations include photographs of aircraft belonging to Deruluft (Deutsch-Russische Luftverkehrs AG), which flew between Berlin and Moscow, 1929-1936; photographs of the Dornier Do X flying boat of 1930, autographed by the captain and other members of the crew; and photographs and a "Bord Album" of the LZ127 "Graf Zeppelin", as well as an autograph album, 1895-1902, containing the signatures of Ferdinand Graf Zeppelin and other members of his family. While the materials emphasize contemporary production, those produced by Convair, Hawker-Siddeley, Northrop, and Hydravions Schreck also include many photographs of historic aircraft. Of special note, promotional materials published between 1919 and 1930 by DELCO, Pitcairn-Cierva, Hydravions Schreck, and Romaircraft are examples of exceptional quality in design and production. The collection also includes typescript corporate histories, 1953-circa 1959, of Boeing Airplane Co., Braniff Airways, Bristol Aeroplane Co., Eastern Airlines, Lear, Inc., Los Angeles Airways, and Pan American Airways.
Additional printed materials in the collection include newspaper clippings, in particular those for the period 1844-1902, taken largely from the Illustrated London News; a small number of technical papers on aeronautical topics; several pamphlets printed in pocket book format for use by aviators "in the field"; illustration blocks and color plates to Gaston Tissandier, Histoire des ballons et des aéronauts celébres (1887); and in-house publications of airplane manufacturers, commercial airlines, and other businesses that employed airplanes in the course of their operations.
The collection includes a large number of draft maps and plans of airports and airfields, circa 1924-1931, prepared by the Aeronautics Branch of the U.S. Department of Commerce and published in the List of airports and landing fields (1928-1931) and Descriptions of airports and landing fields in the United States (1931ff). Additional papers and photographs relate to several California airports; to the the Portal of the Folded Wings, Valhalla Memorial Park, bordering the airport in Burbank, California; and to the Zentralflughafen in Berlin and Le Bourget airport in Paris.
Sheet music of songs with aeronautical themes, 1876-1952, emphasizes the hold that aviation held on the American public imagination. The bulk of the materials was written for the American popular market prior to 1917, but the materials include five songs from 1927 celebrating Charles A. Lindbergh's transatlantic flight, and two items from 1938 the exploits of Douglas "Wrong Way" Corrigan. The latest item is Song of the Air Force (1950), by the pioneer aviator Florence Lowe "Pancho" Barnes, inscribed by the author to Dr. Carruthers, and signed by Maj. Charles E. "Chet" Yaeger.
In addition to sound recordings relating to Charles A. Lindbergh's visit to Washington, DC, upon his return from Paris in 1927, the collection includes a 1964 reproduction of a short 1935 speech by Amelia Earhart, a 1962 oral history of the first 20 years of Aerojet-General Corporation, and a recording issued in 1977 of Eddie Rickenbacker recalling his experiences as a World War I ace.
Memorabilia and ephemera in the collection include a pictorial souvenir of the 1910 Brussels Exhibition; a piece of fabric from an early Curtiss airplane; four bookmarks made from fabric of the balloon "Explorer II", which attained the world's altitude record of 72,395 feet in 1935; two first day covers of the First Man on the Moon U.S. 10-cent stamp, 1969; airline schedules; airmail envelope labels, luggage tags, and menu cards for various U.S. airlines; decals advertising the 1935 National Air Races and the 1953 50th anniversary of powered flight; greeting cards with balloon and airplane motifs; postcards of California scenes with biplanes, circa 1910; and a ticket for a free airplane ride over San Francisco Bay courtesy of Frank and Freddie's restaurant.
The collection also includes a small amount of personal materials of Dr. Carruthers not directly relating to aeronautics. The materials include a 1957 interview; correspondence with the artist Violet Oakley, 1931-1932; a copy of a poem attributed to Robert Burns; and postcards and prints on non-aviation themes.
- Circa 1700-2004.
The collection is open to researchers when Special Collections is open, and at other times by appointment. There are no access restrictions.
Researchers wishing to publish material must obtain permission in writing from Special Collections as the physical owner of the material. Note that permission to publish does not constitute copyright clearance. Special Collections can grant copyright clearance only for that material for which we hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain copyright clearance for all other material from the copyright holder(s).
Biographical and Historical Notes
Biography of John Franklin Bruce Carruthers
John Franklin Bruce Carruthers was born in Fort Scott, Kansas, on August 31, 1889, the son of James B. and Anna (Wood) Carruthers. He graduated A.B. from Princeton in 1912. From 1912 to 1914, he served as assistant to the minister of the First Presbyterian Church in Baltimore. In 1917, he proceeded A.M. at Princeton, and graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary. From 1917 to 1918 he served as assistant to the minister of the Church of the Covenant (now the National Presbyterian Church) in Washington, DC. He was ordained to the ministry of the Presbyterian church in 1918. During World War I he served as chaplain of the U.S.S. Oklahoma, and in 1919 became head chaplain for morale, education and recreation, 6th Division, Bureau of the Navy. In 1919, he married Mabel Grandin, by whom he had one son and three daughters. From 1919 to 1924 Carruthers was chaplain, Manson professor, and head of the Bible department of Lafayette College, from whom he received the D.D. in his final year. In 1924, the family moved to California, settling the following year in Pasadena, where Carruthers and his wife became active in civic affairs. From 1924 to 1926, Carruthers served as professor of religious education and from 1926 to 1928 as lecturer in archaeology at Occidental College. Carruthers also served as lecturer in archaeology on the University of California extension faculty, 1927-1928. From 1930 to 1935, Carruthers was research assistant to Rufus von KleinSmid, president of the University of Southern California (USC) and chancellor of the Los Angeles University of International Relations (forerunner of the USC department of international relations), and as secretary of the USC Institute of Arts and Sciences. During World War II, Carruthers was chaplain of the First Aero Squadron, Camp Hopkins, Bainbridge Island, Washington, and president of the Pacific Coast Japanese Problem League. In 1944, he ran unsuccessfully in the Democratic Party primary for the 47th assembly district in the California state legislature. In 1950, Carruthers and his wife deeded his collection of aviation books and materials, which constituted the library of the Institute of Aeronautical History, to Claremont Men's (now Claremont McKenna) College, and in 1952 the president of the college, George C. S. Benson, appointed him to the honorary position of Director of Research, Library of Aeronautical History. He died at his home in Pasadena on January 13, 1960.
Carruthers' independent means enabled him to pursue a wide variety of interests. In 1926 and 1930 he traveled on behalf of Near East Relief (now the Near East Foundation), investigating post-war conditions in Russia, Syria, Greece, Iraq, Lebanon, and Turkey. He was founder or co-founder of several organizations, including the American Society for Persian Art and Archaeology, the Interstate Collegiate School of Religious Education and Social Service, Los Angeles, the Aero Educational Research Organization (later Institute of Aeronautical History) in 1927, Town Hall of Southern California in 1935, the United Nationals Chaplains League in 1945, and the Military Order of Chaplains of the United Nations in 1946. He also served as president of the Board of Trustees of the American School for Girls in Damascus, chairman of the National Small Business Research Bureau of the American Religious Radio Association, president of the Southern California Council on Religious Education, trustee of the Institute of Family Relations and of the American College in Teheran, and member of the Board of Overseers of the California College of China.
The Institute of Aeronautical History
According to newspaper accounts of December 1933, Carruthers began seriously collecting aeronautica some five years previously. More or less simultaneously, in 1927, he created the Aero Educational Research Organization, whose purpose, according to a 1952 flyer, was "to advance the cause of Aeronautical Progress, by means of Historical and Educational Administrative Research, primarily in the field of The Humanities". No records of the organization have been identified, and what little is known of it is derived from contemporary newspaper accounts, letterheads, and the program for the memorial service held to honor Charles E. Taylor at the Portal of the Folded Wings, Valhalla Memorial Park, Burbank, in 1956. The organization was incorporated in February 1933. At some point between 1937 and 1949, its name was changed to the Institute of Aeronautical History. Carruthers appears to have been its only chairman, and its first four presidents were Roy Knabenshue, Commander George Noville, Percival G. B. Morriss, and Albert A. Merrill; Walter Brookins also served as president. In 1933, the poet Edwin Markham accepted an invitation to be the organization's poet laureate.
Over time, the Institute became the nexus of a web of organizations that in 1956 consisted of the following:
16.25 Linear Feet ( (13 archive boxes, 6 archive half-boxes, 8 clam-shell boxes, 3 shoe boxes, 15 oversize print boxes))
Language of Materials
The collection consists of prints and drawings, handbills, photographs, postcards, printed materials (including books, periodicals, bibliographies, journal articles, newspaper clippings, event programs, conference agenda and reports, manuscripts, telegrams, letters, press kits and releases, corporate overviews, investment prospectuses, sales brochures, technical specification sheets, typescript histories, and guides), maps, sheet music, sound recordings, ephemera, and memorabilia collected by Dr. John F. B. Carruthers and documenting the history of aviation, with particular emphasis on the period from 1783 to the late 1950s. The prints and drawings document in particular the development of French and British ballooning from 1783 to 1785, British ballooning in the 19th century, and historic U.S. civil and military aircraft, including balloons, dirigibles, and fixed-wing airplanes, 1903 to circa 1950. Photographic, printed, and other materials document early air meets and historic flights, including the original records of Cecil Allen and Donald Moyle's 1931 transpacific flight. The materials also document pioneer aviators, including Glenn Curtiss, Amelia Earhart, Arch Hoxey, A. Roy Knabenshue, and Clyde Pangborn. Materials on the Wright brothers include a toy butterfly purported to have inspired their interest in flight, and a piece of the 1903 Kitty Hawk hangar; materials on Charles A. Lindbergh include two metal pieces from the "Spirit of St. Louis" and sound recordings of his 1927 visit to Washington, DC, upon his return from Paris. The collection also contains extensive photographic and printed materials on individual aircraft, aircraft manufacturers, and airlines, including historic 19th-century aircraft and, in particular, aircraft of U.S., British, French, and German manufacture between 1930 and 1960. The collection includes a large number of draft maps and plans of airports and airfields, circa 1924-1931, prepared by the Aeronautics Branch of the U.S. Department of Commerce, as well as sheet music of songs on aeronautical themes, 1876-1952.
Organized into 15 series:
Gift to Claremont Men's College (now Claremont McKenna College) from the collector, the Rev. John Franklin Bruce Carruthers, 1950.
A scrapbook of early aeronautica, 1783-1840, collected by William Upcott (1779-1845), formerly in the possession of Robert Hollond, was given by Carruthers' widow to the Smithsonian Institution, at a ceremony attended by some of the greatest aviators in the world, many of whom added their signatures to the verso of the engraved plate in the beginning of the volume. The volume was rebound as 3 in 1994-1995, and is now housed at the National Air and Space Museum Archives, Special Collections, TL620.A1 U65. See Janice Stagnitto Ellis, "Aloft in a Balloon: Treatment of a Scrapbook of Early Aeronautica Collected by William Upcott, 1783-1840," American Institute for Conservation, Book and Paper Group, Annual, vol. 16 (1997), http://cool.conservation-us.org/coolaic/sg/bpg/annual/v16/bp16-02.html.
Collection processed by Michael Palmer, June 2004-July 2006.
- Aeronautical sports -- History
- Aeronautics -- History
- Air pilots
- Aircraft industry
- Airplane racing
- Allen, Cecil A. (Author)
- Ballooning -- History
- Curtiss, Glenn Hammond (Creator)
- Earhart, Amelia (Creator)
- Graf Zeppelin (Airship)
- Green, Charles (Creator)
- Hubbell, Charles H. (Charles Herman) (Artist)
- Lindbergh, Charles A. (Charles Augustus) (Creator)
- Moyle, Donald (Creator)
- Pangborn, Clyde Edward (Creator)
- Parachuting -- History
- Popular music
- Spirit of St. Louis (Airplane)
- Women air pilots
- Wright, Orville (Creator)
- Wright, Wilbur (Creator)
- Finding Aid of the James Carruthers Memorial Aviation Collection of the Institute of Aeronautical History
- Michael P. Palmer
- December 21, 2010
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note