Now Boarding | Explore Pan Am’s Digital Archive

Thanks to a grant from the National Historic Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), the first group of images from the Pan American World Airways, Inc. Records collection have recently landed on the University of Miami Libraries’ Digital Collections website.

Left and center: Fly by Clipper to Hawaii brochure cover and fold-out map, 1949. Right: Miami to Nassau flight map brochure.

Housed in Special Collections at the Otto G. Richter Library, the Pan Am collection is one of UM’s most researched and extensive, containing historical brochures, newsletters, periodicals, correspondence, photographs, and many other records documenting the 60-plus years of aviation history and world impact of the iconic airline. “From gender issues related to the early hiring and treatment of female flight attendants to a local artist constructing a larger-than-life cardboard model of a jet fighter, the collection is vast and eclectic. It’s a source of continuous discoveries, most of them fascinating and delightful,” says Cristina Favretto, head of Special Collections.

Continuing the work of a previous NHPRC-funded grant completed in 2014 to re-process the collection in its entirety, the digitization efforts of this project will ultimately add over 100,000 pages of brochures, timetables, directories, annual reports, and periodicals from the printed materials series to the Digital Collections website, where the materials are fully text searchable and available to the public for browsing and research purposes.

Digitization Grant Project Manager Gabriella Williams.

“This ongoing project will not only help with improving the discovery and accessibility of the collection worldwide, but will also serve to foster collaboration with other airline companies and institutions,” says Gabriella Williams, digitization grant project manager. Williams has worked extensively with periodicals as Serials Technician at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and brings a strong background in digitization from the Florida Institute of Technology. She started with UM Libraries on February 20 and is supervising the 1.5-year project.

Directing the grant’s workflow, Williams is responsible for entering metadata, flagging duplicates, choosing the best copies for scanning, creating special handling instructions for large fold-outs and maps, and working with student employees to perform quality control checks on the digital images. The next group of boxes to be digitized date from the World War II era. “Pan Am played a crucial role in aviation and global history during this time period, as the company was the leader in creating transportation routes and had already established a large fleet of aircrafts, which was invaluable to the war effort in the United States,” says Williams.

Williams reviews executive staff memorandums from the 1930s prior to digitization.



Now Accepting Applications: The Dave Abrams and Gene Banning Pan Am Research Grant

The Dave Abrams and Gene Banning Pan Am Research Grant

Abrams Banning Winner Graphic (275x105)The Pan Am Historical Foundation announces the eight annual Dave Abrams and Gene Banning Pan Am Research Grant competition. Up to $1,500 will be awarded to support scholarly research using the Pan American World Airways, Inc. Records held by the University of Miami Libraries’ Special Collections. The grant honors two of Pan Am’s most avid historians, Dave Abrams and Gene Banning.

Since its first international flight in 1927, Pan Am positioned itself as a world leader in American commercial aviation. The Pan Am records date from 1927 to the 1990s and include administrative and financial files; technical and research reports; public relations and promotional materials; internal publications including newsletters, journals and press releases; and thousands of photographs. Image015

The grant is open to advanced graduate students, independent scholars, and faculty. Priority will be given to research proposals that will result in publication in any media.

Application Procedures

Applicants must submit a proposal of no more than two pages describing their research project, include a curriculum vitae or résumé, and provide two letters of recommendation.

Application deadline is October 15, 2015

Please send inquiries and applications to:

The Dave Abrams & Gene Banning Pan Am Research Grant
c/o Jay Sylvestre
University of Miami Libraries
PO Box 248214, Coral Gables, FL 33124-0320
j.sylvestre@miami.edu

About Dave Abrams and Gene Banning

After graduating from the University of Miami, Dave Abrams (1919-2005) joined Pan American Airways and worked for 42 years as a meteorologist, navigator and Director of Flight Operations for Latin America. Abrams was instrumental in the formation of The Pan Am Historical Foundation after the company shut its doors in 1991, and in finding a home for the Pan Am’s archives and memorabilia.

Gene Banning (1918-2006) was one of the longest serving pilots for Pan Am. His aviation days started with the infamous flying boats in 1941 and ended with Boeing 747s in 1978. An avid researcher, Banning was a guiding member of The Pan Am Historical Foundation from its inception and the author of Airlines of Pan American since 1927 (McLean, Va.: Paladwr, 2001).

Image019

About the Pan Am Historical Foundation and the University of Miami Libraries

The Pan Am Historical Foundation is a group dedicated to preserving the heritage of Pan American World Airways. For more information about the Foundation, visithttp://www.panam.org/. The Special Collections of the University of Miami Libraries preserves and provides access to research materials focusing on the history and culture of Florida, the Caribbean and Latin America. The Pan American World Airways, Inc. Records consists of hundreds of boxes of materials and reigns as the most avidly consulted single resource in Special Collections. For more information about the Special Collections of the University of Miami Libraries, visit http://library.miami.edu/specialcollections.

Past Winners

2014: Hadassah St. Hubert, “Visions of a Modern Nation: Haiti at the World’s Fairs”

2013: Ken Fortenberry & Gregg Herken, “Point of No Return: Solving the Mystery of the Lost Clipper”

2012: Felipe F. Cruz, “Flight of the Toucans: Technology and Culture in the Brazilian Airspace”

2012: Gordon H Pirie examined Pan Am’s role in civil aviation to, and from, in post-colonial Africa

2011: Jonathan Ruano, “Pan American Airways, the South Atlantic Route and Rise of the American Empire”

2010: Houston Johnson, “Taking Off: The Politics and Culture of American Aviation, 1927-1929”

2009: Augustine Meaher “Pan Am Arrives Down Under: A Diplomatic and Aeronautical Accomplishment”

2009: Roger Turner, “Pan-Am’s Contribution to the Development of Aeronautical Meteorology”

2007: Jennifer Van Vleck “No Distant Places: Aviation and American Globalism, 1924-1968”

 



Special Collections Celebrates Milestone for the Pan Am World Airways Collection

by Sarah Block, Library Communications

The planes bearing the name “Pan Am” may have retired nearly 25 years ago, but the company itself is still generating buzz as a pop culture fixture and timeless icon of progress and innovation. At the center of the conversation is University of Miami’s Special Collections, home of Pan Am World Airways’ official archive. The department receives thousands of requests for Pan Am records each year.

emily_headshot_4x3crop

Archivist Emily Gibson led the two-year cataloging project for the Pan Am archive.

“People want to know everything from technical information about the planes and flight routes to details about in-flight meals or the evolution of flight attendants’ uniforms,” says archivist Emily Gibson, who has been working solely on the collection—one of UM’s largest and most popular—over the past two years. The work she has led is the cause for an upcoming celebration, Cleared to Land, which will take place at the Robert and Judi Prokop Newman Alumni Center on January 29.

The event, presented by Special Collections, will include a reception and presentation culminating in a runway show by World Wings International, Inc., an organization of former Pan Am flight attendants who participate in a number of charitable causes worldwide. The event will begin at 7:30 p.m. and is open to the public.

Head of Special Collections Cristina Favretto says the event celebrates significant improvements in access to the Pan Am archive through the efforts of Gibson and 15 UM students. In 2012 the department hired Gibson through a grant from the National Historical Publications & Records Commission to reorganize the collection’s 1,500 boxes of historical records, including photographs, administrative records, flight routes, publications, and many other materials acquired by Special Collections in 1992. “Emily and her team did a complete overhaul of the collection, and the result is a much more organized set of materials that are significantly easier to navigate and research,” she says, adding that Gibson has become the department’s “de facto Pan Am expert” in the process.

77321298623d7b3a50e703d2c7499714

University of Miami cheerleaders at the christening of the Pan American Clipper Hurricane, a DC-4, tail number N88898, Miami, Florida, 1951.

Researchers come from all over the world to use the collection, with materials related to Latin America and the Caribbean having an especially large draw. Doctoral student Felipe Cruz visited the collection in 2012 from the University of Texas-Austin through the Pan Am Historical Foundation’s Abrams Banning Grant and was able to use materials ranging from maps to corporate records to complete his dissertation on the development of modern Brazil. The collection was also a research resource for the 2011 television series Pan Am.

Gibson says the fact that there’s public access to the archive already makes it unique. “Very few corporations release their records to the public, and the establishment of an archive of this company, which has made such a large global impact, has created an incredible opportunity for researchers of all kinds of topics related to the twentieth century, from World War II to the Beatles’ first U.S. tour to the very planes that made flights affordable to the general public.”

Over the course of the project Gibson, with the help of her student team, created a new online finding aid (search tool) pointing to the various areas of the collection. She also steered the content development of a mini-website for the collection, which was created by UM Libraries’ Digital Collections.

banning_grant-web

Grant winner Hadassah St. Hubert receives her award from former Pan Am station manager Al Topping.

UM doctoral student Hadassah St. Hubert began her research through the Abrams Banning Grant while Gibson’s project was approaching the finish line. She says the new finding aid helped her locate the materials that are now supporting her thesis about the push for Haiti’s rise as a tourist destination in the 1950s. “Since my project looks at the increasing role of tourism of Haiti, I analyze materials such as photographs, letters, advertisements, as well as government documents,” she said in a recent interview about her work. “My archival ‘jolt’ moment was when I discovered that Pan Am had increased its advertising of Haiti from less than $50,000 in the late 1940s to $1,000,000 by the mid-1950s. I had always heard that Haiti was a popular destination for U.S. tourists, including Bill and Hillary Clinton in the 1970s. This evidence shows that Pan Am truly believed that Haiti could be a year-round resort for tourists and they invested heavily to make this happen.”

Favretto says the completion of the project will open the door for many others to use the collection. However, there is additional work remaining, including a large section of materials that still need to be cataloged and added to the finding aid. For the long term, Special Collections and Pan Am affiliates hope to retain the full-time support of a Pan Am archivist.

Since the grant ended, Gibson has been promoting the collection on Special Collections’ social media using the hashtag #PanAmAlive, which she says was inspired from talking to so many former Pan Am employees devoted to preserving the company’s legacy. Her involvement in the January 29 event, and working with the former flight attendants of World Wings International, Inc. who will be presenting the runway show, has only fueled her excitement for all things Pan Am. “Their enthusiasm for the history of the company is contagious,” she says. “People will be inspired to visit the collection themselves, which is an important part of keeping Pan Am ‘alive!’”

For more information about this event, or to RSVP, please contact richterevents@miami.edu or call 305-284-4026.



COOLCRAZYBEAUTIFUL: Althea “Gerry” Lister Papers

emily-headshot_thumbA Pick of the Week from

Special Collections of the UM Libraries

By Emily Gibson

 

One of Pan Am’s earliest and most notable employees, Althea “Gerry” Lister made many strides as a woman in the aviation world, serving as the Secretary to the General Traffic Manager, then as an Assistant to the Passenger Service Manager, and finally as the Pan Am Museum’s curator and company historian.

Emily1

Althea “Gerry” Lister receives her 45-year service pin from Chairman William T. Seawell, July 30, 1973.

Gerry Lister began her career with Pan Am as far back as 1928 and was the first female employee to receive a 15-year pin, a 20-year pin, and a 30-year pin, and she was the first employee overall to receive the 45-year pin, indicating the wealth of dedication she had for the company. In an article from the July 1958 issue of The Clipper discussing the reception of her 30-year pin, Lister describes her most memorable moment in her 30 years with Pan Am as the day she was sitting with President Juan J. Trippe in his office in New York just as the Clipper America was preparing to take off on its very first commercial round-the-world air trip.

emily2

Lister dusts a model of the Yankee Clipper on exhibit at the Clipper Hall Museum located inside John F. Kennedy International Airport where she was museum curator, March 2, 1965.

This brand new collection that we recently received as an adjacent collection to our Pan American Airways, Inc. Records currently holds two fascinating albums, donated to us through a private donor, that detail much of Lister’s work through photos, clippings, documentation, and ephemera, all of which illustrate her accomplishments during the length of her service. Stemming from an early interest and technical understanding of planes, flying, and maintenance, she contributed to the company in ways that were highly unusual for a woman of her time. She herself had piloted nearly every type of plane from the time she was a young adult, a feat that had been largely restricted to men back then and one that still remains prevalent today given the ratio of female to male pilots.

One of the albums contains a draft written by Lister, entitled “Along Air Avenues,” wherein she describes the daily procedures of a plane’s pilot and its staff down to its most minute  of details, from pre-flight checks to the plane’s regular maintenance and safety precautions. The draft highlights her level of expertise in piloting and aviation management while also indicating her willingness to inspire and educate future pilots by explaining every facet of a typical flight with her level of depth.

This collection, now in process, will soon be available for research.

COOLCRAZYBEAUTIFUL is written by Yvette Yurubi and showcases unique items at Special Collections and the University Archives discovered by librarians and staff members while on the job. They gather monthly for “Show and Tell” to present their top finds. You too can experience these items up close, and access other rare and interesting treasures, by visiting Special Collections and the University Archives, located on the 8th floor of the Otto G. Richter Library.



Life in an Archive: Heartbeats, Lifelines, and Legacies

Connecting People and Papers of the Past and Present

Arcihve Month 2014 - Stewardess with soldiers

Photograph of stewardess and soldiers inside a Boeing 707 on a Vietnam Rest and Relaxation Airlift, circa 1960s, Pan American World Airways, Inc. Records collection.

by Emily Gibson and Laura Capell

It may sound anachronistic to refer to “life” in an archive when you consider that archives house the collections of people and places past. However, life is precisely what archives are all about. Case in point: the Pan Am Collection.

With over 1,500 boxes of historical materials, the Pan American World Airways, Inc. corporate records touch upon many different aspects of twentieth century history—not just in the United States, but around the world. Since it’s such a rich treasure trove of information, the collection is incredibly popular with researchers interested in an immense variety of topics.

World Wings Grant (attendant_on_engine)

Photograph of stewardess seated inside a Boeing 707 engine intake well, circa 1960s, World Wings International, Inc. Records collection.

Researchers are the heartbeat of our collections. Many Pan Am researchers are former Pan Am employees or family members of former employees interested in documenting their family history. Aviation enthusiasts also like to use the collection, since Pan Am played such a significant role in aviation history. The collection is also popular with scholars researching a wide variety of historical, social, and cultural topics.

Sometimes our collections are lifelines. Take for example a Vietnam veteran who contacted UML Special Collections searching for documentation in support of his disability claim. Information from a Pan Am timetable from Southeast Asia from the early 1970s provided the final piece of information needed for the VA to approve his claim. As an archivist, it’s incredibly fulfilling to connect people with the information they’re looking for, especially when that information has the power to change a life.

Archive Month 2014 - Map with Saigon

Detail of route map from 1972 timetable, Pan American World Airways, Inc. Records collection.

The Pan American World Airways, Inc. corporate records may be the linchpin of Pan Am’s legacy, but the motor driving the legacy are organizations like the Pan Am Historical Foundation and World Wings International whose missions are to educate people about Pan Am’s history and connect the people who made that history possible. These organizations keep Pan Am alive.

The Pan Am Collection includes the records of the Pan Am Historical Foundation, Inc. and World Wings International, Inc., and the personal papers of dozens of former employees, in addition to the corporate records. These collections, and the relationships we forge with the people and organizations who donate them, are a very important part of life in UML Special Collections.

Stay tuned throughout Archives Month for stories about how UM students, researchers, donors, and community members are breathing life into UM Libraries’ unique and distinctive collections.



UM Libraries’ Archivists Kick Off “Life in an Archive” Series

archivesMonth_banner-blog_600x150-draft01

by Jay Sylvestre, Special Collections Librarian

October has been designated by the Society of American Archives as Archives Month, a collaborative effort by professional organizations, libraries, and archives around the nation to highlight the importance of the records we hold and to raise public awareness about the value of historical records and collections.

To celebrate Archives Month, archivists and librarians from UM Libraries’ unique and distinctive collections will be sharing stories from our experiences working in the archives at the University of Miami. The series will be called “Life in an Archive,” focusing on the stories of people who have used and/or donated to our collections.

Stories will be told from the perspective of archivists who have had the opportunity to interact with people from all over the world:

  • University Archivist Koichi Tasa will talk about leading UM alumni and their family members to photographs and records from their time at UM.
  • Cuban Heritage Collection Librarian Meiyolet Méndez and Archivist Natalie Baur will discuss helping researchers make new discoveries on Cuba and its diaspora.
  • Special Collections Librarian Jay Sylvestre and Manuscripts Librarian Beatrice Skokan will show how artist’s books, zines, and other unique materials held at Special Collections have impacted people’s lives.
  • Electronic Records Archivist Laura Capell and Visiting Archivist Emily Gibson will share stories from working with the Pan American World Airways, Inc. Records Collection.

It is interactions like these with members of our community that provide the archivists and librarians at UM Libraries with a rich set of stories to share. Stay tuned for posts this month about alumni, veterans, researchers, and donors who have allowed us to be a part of their journey. I hope that you enjoy reading our stories as much as we enjoy sharing them.

Happy Archives Month!