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

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).


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, visit 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

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”


UML Renovation Update: Temporary Access Procedures to Off-Site Materials

Construction-Alert200x200The University of Miami Libraries (UML) is beginning the first phase of renovations to Brockway Hall, a historic space on the first floor of Richter Library that will serve as the new home of Special Collections and University Archives.

Starting April 2, we will be relocating materials that are currently shelved at Brockway Hall to UML’s off-site storage facility in Miami Lakes. This will result in limited access to little-used materials stored off-site (as indicated in the catalog) from our general collections as well as those from Special Collections, University Archives, and the Cuban Heritage Collection. Further details will soon follow on temporary procedures during each project phase for requesting these materials. Stay tuned for these updates on our website.

We will also be launching a website in the coming weeks that will provide more information about the new space and include detailed updates on this project.

In the meantime, please contact us with any questions pertaining to near-future use of off-site materials. (Please note that this project will only affect access to materials that are stored off-site. For materials housed on-site at our libraries and collections, regular access will apply throughout the project.)

  • For questions about UML’s off-site collections, please contact Cheryl Gowing, Associate Dean, Library Information Systems & Access, at or 305-284-6018.
  • From the Cuban Heritage Collection, please contact Meiyolet Mendez, CHC Librarian, at or 305-284-5854.
  • From Special Collections, please contact Cristina Favretto, Head of Special Collections, at or 305-284-3247.
  • From University Archives, please contact Koichi Tasa, University Archivist, at or 305-284-8129.

For general inquiries about this project, please contact

We thank you for your patience during this time, and look forward to updating you on this exciting project.

Béatrice Coron Sculpts Stories with Paper and Passion

by Sarah Block, Library Communications

Artist Béatrice Coron discussed her work at University of Miami Libraries Special Collections. The pictured fold-out design will be permanently housed in the Artists' Book Collection.

Artist Béatrice Coron discussed her work at University of Miami Libraries Special Collections. The pictured fold-out design will be permanently housed in the Artists’ Book Collection.

Artist Béatrice Coron, whose cut-paper silhouettes are featured nationally in major museums and airports, inside subway trains, and even on the fashion catwalk, discussed her work at University of Miami Libraries Special Collections, where some of her celebrated literary collaborations are housed.

Coron, who gave a TED Talk in 2011 about creativity, laughingly admitted at the March 11 event, “Cross Cutting Collaborations,” that she was first attracted to the ancient art of paper-cutting thirty years ago because “paper is cheap, and paint is messy.”

She uses an X-Acto knife to cut designs on paper or Tyvek, a process she describes as drawing with the mind of a sculptor. “I remove pieces for people to see what I see,” she said. Her vision emerges when the design is placed on a contrasting background.

Several of Coron’s whimsical landscapes were on display at Special Collections during the event. Special Collections head Cristina Favretto compares the experience of viewing Coron’s work to the Alfred Hitchcock film Rear Window, featuring an immobilized Jimmy Stewart who spends days with his head on a pillow staring into other people’s apartments, slowly gaining clues about their lives. “You see all sorts of interesting stories,” she said. “And one by one, little by little, you begin figuring those stories out.”


Béatrice Coron (left), Special Collections Head Cristina Favretto (center), and Manuscripts Librarian Beatrice Skokan (right).

Coron, a native of France, shared with the Special Collections audience that her own life is full of unique stories. She has drifted around the world to live in places like Egypt, China, and Mexico, where she experienced life through a series of odd jobs. She worked as a shepherdess, factory worker, cleaning lady, and tour guide before deciding at age forty to reinvent herself as an artist.

A recurring image among Coron’s landscapes is that of a mermaid, which she explained serves as a metaphor about identity and transformation. “We never know where we are going to land,” Coron said. “And we don’t know whether we will be equipped for that land.”

Coron explained that each project takes months of preparation, reading dictionaries and philosophy books, watching movies, and observing the work of other artists. She revealed that one of her preferred challenges is collaborating with poets and artists for projects such as artists’ books, in which her silhouettes engage with other mediums.

At the event, Coron presented a recent collaboration with poet Tiffany Osedra Miller and painter Laura James, a colorful fold-out book (one of six created), that will join other works preserved in the Artists’ Book Collection at Special Collections. The acquisition provides a unique opportunity to access Coron’s work—a customized viewing experience. “When you come to Special Collections, you can take your time holding rare materials, and turning their pages,” Favretto said. “These materials are meant to be experienced up close.”


“All Around Town” designed from cut-paper by artist Béatrice Coron. The print is displayed throughout the New York City subway system.

Notes from the Director’s Desk

It’s difficult to write a first column for a first blog…how does one compress a significant amount of information in a relatively small space and in a pithy yet engaging manner?  Most significantly, how does one choose which aspects of a very rich and varied collection (one that is managed and curated by an experienced and diverse group of individuals!) to emphasize?  Where should I shine a spotlight, when there are so many spotlight-ready materials to highlight and describe?  What’s my hook?

Juan Trippe, the founder and first president of Pan American World Airways, Inc., with noted aviator Charles A. Lindbergh, in 1928.

The hook is: there are many hooks here in the Special Collections Division at the Otto G. Richter Library at the University of Miami.  Fabulous and enticing snares abound to capture and enthrall both research experts and novice students.  You may be interested in our largest and most prominent collections: the 1600+ boxes of materials delineating the lifespan of Pan American World Airlines, one of the world’s most glamorous and important businesses. You can spend hours, days, even years digging through fascinating menus (no charging for pretzels on a six-hour flight on Pan Am), photographs of smiling flight attendants in uniforms reflecting a variety of decades,  designs for terminals, correspondence to and from Charles Lindbergh, and so much more.  Or you can delve into our ever-expanding Conterculture Collection, which features zines, photographs of street art, local small publications, political ephemera, and other varied evidence of the fact that Miami is one of the most interesting, diverse, and challenging cities in the world.

Miami Punk Scene from the Erick Lyle Papers

Let’s not forget that one of our great strengths is the documentation of this beautiful and variegated place we call home.  Our collections of rare books, archives, photographs, posters, maps and other manuscript materials documenting Florida and Miami are among the best in the world.  Here both our University of Miami community and our local and global public (because we are open to the public, from Monday through Friday and from 9-4) can delve into the correspondence of the feisty and articulate eco-warrior Marjorie Stoneman Douglas, peruse a first edition of Theodor de Bry’s Brevis narratio eorum quae in Florida Americae provicia Gallis acciderunt…with its splendid engravings depicting the daily lives and activities of Native American tribes, or leaf through flyers offering glimpses of Miami Beach’s punk band scene (yes, there was and still is one).


De Bry, Thedor. Brevis narratio eorum quae in Florida Americae provicia Gallis acciderunt… First Edition. Frankfurt: T. de Bry, 1591.

So how, gentle reader, can I compress the visual and intellectual feasts offered by our many and varied collections into a few paragraphs?

I simply can’t.  The best I can do is to make this offer: come and visit us.  Take the elevator to the eighth floor, sign up at the front desk, and ask one of us to show you something beautiful.  Depending on who you ask, you might be shown a unique artists’ book redolent of exotic spices, a delicate map showing a charmingly imprecise Florida (no wonder there were so many shipwrecks on our shoals in the early years of navigation to the region!), a book of spirit photography from the 1920s from our Jackie Gleason Collection, or a heartbreaking yet business-like register depicting the “increase by birth and decrease by death” of people living in slavery on a plantation in Tobago.  I guarantee that you’ll be back, wanting to turn the pages of delicate scrapbooks depicting long-ago voyages to Caribbean islands, hand-written postcards by Federico Garcia Lorca, haunting images of Miami communities that have been obliterated by greed or well-intentioned urban renewal. We want you to visit, and we want you to return many times. The books, archives, photographs, and other treasures in our collections are here to be used. Come and use them.

Artists’ book
Homo Vulgaris : Finnegans Wake by James Joyce.
Drawing and Design by Tina Flau











Cristina Favretto, Director of Special Collections

 Stay tuned for the next Notes from the Director’s Desk next semester!