Now Accepting Applications: The World Wings International, Inc. Research Grant

The World Wings International, Inc. Research Grant

WWIlogoThe World Wings International, Inc. (WWI) Research Grant, is an annual grant which is open to advanced graduate students, independent scholars, and faculty members who are interested in conducting research on the organizational records of WWI, a historic association of former Pan Am flight attendants. Priority will be given to research proposals that will result in publication in any media. Up to $2,000 will be awarded annually to support scholarly research using the World Wings International, Inc. Records, housed at University of Miami Special Collections.

Since its first international flight in 1927, Pan Am positioned itself as a world leader in American commercial aviation. Formed in 1959, World Wings International, Inc. is an association of former Pan Am flight attendants that is now dedicated to charitable activities. The World Wings International, Inc. Records, currently housed at Special Collections in the Otto G. Richter Library, includes the administrative records of the organization, as well as scrapbooks, photographs, membership and annual meetings files, correspondence, and financial records.

World Wings Grant (graduating_class)

Prospective researchers are encouraged to explore new areas of scholarship and inquiry within the World Wings International, Inc. Records. The vast collection supports research in the areas of history, geography, business, sociology, and gender studies, among others. We also encourage creative writers to use these materials to inspire short stories, poetry, novels, and even art work. The research should advance the image of World Wings International, Inc., and encourage further study into the role former Pan Am flight attendants had in the history of aviation, philanthropy, feminism, and women’s business history.World Wings Grant (attendant_on_engine)

Grant awardees will be required to give a presentation to faculty, students, staff, and interested community members.

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. A WWI Board Member will sit on the selection committee.

Application deadline May 15, 2018 (note: applications will be reviewed after deadline, and recipient will be announced one month after deadline. The successful applicant will have one year to fulfill their grant requirement. Any applicant failing to make arrangements to come to the University of Miami within the year allotted will forfeit their award).

Please send inquiries and applications to:

World Wings International, Inc. Research Grant
c/o Jay Sylvestre, Special Collections Librarian
University of Miami Libraries
PO Box 248214, Coral Gables, FL 33124-0320

About World Wings International, Inc. and the University of Miami Libraries

World Wings International, Inc. is the philanthropic organization of former Pan Am flight attendants who seek to maintain the historic Pan Am tradition of global humanitarian assistance, safeguard Pan Am’s place in aviation history, and promote friendship among its members through cultural and civic activities. For more information about the organization, visit the World Wings International, Inc. website.

Special Collections preserves and provides access to research materials focusing on the history and culture of Florida, the Caribbean and Latin America. The department also curates the official records of Pan American World Airways. For more information about the Special Collections of the University of Miami Libraries, visit our website.

Past Winners:

2015: Waleed Hazbun, “The Jet Set Frontier in the Middle East”
2016: Adelina Stefan, “Vacationing in the Cold War: Foreign Tourists to Socialist Romania and Francoist Spain in the 1960s-1970s”

World Wings Grant (collage)

*Images courtesy of the World Wings International, Inc. Records collection, University of Miami Special Collections

Handle with Care | Preservation Strategies for Pan Am’s Digital Archive

Conservator Duvy Argandoña prepares a document in the Conservation Lab on the first floor of the Otto G. Richter Library.

Repair and conserve: a phrase that drives a vast and complex component of University of Miami Libraries’ (UML) mission. Primary source materials and books are handled over years, decades, and even centuries; room conditions fluctuate, humidity falls and rises, and critters occasionally find their way to them for a snack. For the specialists that manage UML’s Preservation Strategies Department, “repair and conserve” holds a significance akin to a “search and rescue” operation—only rather than a search for people, it’s about the search for and provision of aid to materials that are in distress or imminent danger. As items become damaged and too fragile to handle, they require treatment and special care in order to ensure they can remain accessible by students and researchers in the future.

The grant from the National Historic Publications and Records Commission has allowed UML to sustain such specialized preservation efforts as the digitization of materials from the Pan American World Airways, Inc. Records collection continues. This ongoing project is now at a stage where a second group of images from the renowned aviation collection are in the process of being made accessible by keyword search. These brochures, timetables, directories, and other items require special treatment prior to any scans or photographs to ensure that the text in them can be recognized, or that they can even be handled for image capturing purposes.

Argandoña uses the hot spatula and tweezers to repair small tears in a Pan Am brochure.

Duvy Argandoña is the conservator at the Otto G. Richter Library. She spends a good portion of her workdays in the Conservation Lab repairing Pan Am materials before they can be scanned. The Lab, a brightly-lit, state-of-the-art equipped facility, is an infirmary for the collection’s torn or creased materials, where Argandoña uses specialized machines and tools to reconcile any damage that might interfere with digitization.

“The meticulous work done by Duvy is so important to the process, because it’s essentially our means of loss control—vetting and repairing the materials in a way that ensures we are able to capture the best scans possible,” says Gabriella Williams, who works closely with Argandoña and is managing this digitization project. Williams prepares and triages the materials before they are sent to the Lab. She flags each box, folder-by-folder, and creates a detailed, object-level spreadsheet of the items that require attention.

The humidification dome releases a mist of deionized water to relax a map’s paper fibers.

Argandoña then uses both basic and more complex techniques, depending on the level of damage, to repair the selected materials. “For mending small tears in brochures and timetables, I use the hot spatula tool and heat-set tissue paper,” says Argandoña. She first cuts the tissue paper into five millimeter strips and then uses tweezers to line up the strips with the seams of the torn documents. Carefully holding the tissue paper in place with tweezers, she applies soft pressure with the hot spatula until the paper adheres.

If a large map or fold-out is wrinkled or bent, Argandoña places it in a humidification dome for up to 15 minutes before any further repairs are made. “The dome uses a deionized water vapor mist to help the paper fibers relax, then the item is arranged between blotter paper sheets in the oversized book press for 24 hours, or until all the creases are gone,” says Argandoña.

Martha Horan, head of Preservation Strategies.

On October 17, UML welcomed new Head of Preservation Strategies Martha Horan, who is enthusiastic about working with the Pan Am materials under the NHPRC grant.

“Too often one does not consider the highly skilled, artisan-like techniques that go on behind-the-scenes in a library to stabilize and treat materials as part of preservation and digitization,” says Horan. “It’s an impressive operation here, with an even more impressive team behind it. It’s an exciting time to be a part of the Libraries.”

Digital images of these materials from the Pan American World Airways, Inc. Records—which date from the company’s inception in 1927 until it ceased operations in 1991—are now available to the public for browsing and research purposes on the University of Miami Libraries’ Digital Collections web site.

Photos by Brittney Bomnin

25 Years Ago – Hurricane Andrew and A School Project That Went Far

“Damn You, Andrew” – A house in shambles after Hurricane Andrew hit Miami on August 24th, 1992

As the extremely powerful Hurricane Irma made its way towards Florida on September 10 this year, it stirred some depressing memories in many residents of Miami and the South Florida regions – memories of Hurricane Andrew, which had struck 25 years ago with devastating consequences.

In the early morning hours of August 24th, 1992 Hurricane Andrew, the biggest storm to hit Miami in over 60 years, roared through South Florida. It left many people displaced and injured, reportedly claiming 44 lives and destroying thousands of homes. Twenty five years later the name “Andrew” is still synonymous in Miami for this hurricane that forever changed so many lives.

Among those affected were the students and teachers at Palmetto Bay’s Southwood Middle School. In the aftermath of the storm, many of the students had no place to go while their parents did their best to salvage and rebuild what Hurricane Andrew had left of their homes. The school had suffered some severe damage too, including its popular Magnet Photography Program which had a dark room that the storm had turned into a huge mess. Equipment accumulated by the school over 12 years that was valued at $170.000 at the time had been submerged in four feet of salt water and ruined, including the students’ damaged personal photography equipment. However, instead of letting frustration and sadness get a hold on them, the students created art from the disaster thanks to their passionate photography teacher, Colette Stemple. 

Southwood art teacher Colette Stemple

In order to help the students cope with the trauma and give them –and herself, for that matter– a different focus, Colette organized a project with her photography students. Under her supervision, they forged a record of Hurricane Andrew’s destructive power by photographing the changed environment. “I asked the principal if he would hire us a school bus so that we could drive around Dade County documenting the destruction,” Colette remembers. The principal agreed, and the students and their teacher rode through the heart of the destruction and photographed what Hurricane Andrew left behind, documenting what they saw.

Back in 1992, before cell phones and Instagram, “photographing” meant nothing else but taking pictures with cameras, exposing roll after roll of film, handling slides and negative strips, and printing photographs on paper –in small, medium or large formats. Nobody knows for sure how many pictures were taken by the students, but many of their photographs, negatives, prints, photographic slides, collages and accompanying text fill several of the boxes now being safely housed at University of Miami Special Collections.

Colette realized very early on the significance of the students’ work. “When I saw their images I knew that their work was unique and powerful.  I realized that this was the first time in history that the children victims of a natural disaster had documented the tragedy.” This point of view was shared by many as time went by.

One of the Southwood students involved in the project was Nicholas Wohl. Today a fire captain for the city of Miami, Nicholas was 12 years old when Andrew struck, and he still remembers those days well. The storm had destroyed his family’s home to a good extent, and for several months, he lived in a trailer with his parents, his older siblings, two dogs, and his fragile grandmother. “It was like camping,” he said with a smile before admitting that the sense of adventure soon took a sour turn when all his family members had to help and clean up the site of their destroyed home.

Did young Nicholas understand the importance of the project at the time? “Not very,” he admitted with a laugh during a recent visit to Special Collections with his daughter Ella while looking at some of his own photographs from the collection. Two images had been framed together for the exhibit at the time and also archived that way later. They show the street right outside of the Wohl family’s home – one image had been taken only days before Andrew struck, the second image right after the impact, reflecting the storm’s enormous destructive power that had uprooted trees and destroyed houses in Nicholas’ neighborhood. The photos are among some of the few in the collection which show the “before and after” of the storm, allowing a direct comparison and leaving one feeling eerily unsettled by the amount of significant change.

Nicholas Wohl visiting Special Collections in August 2017

Nicholas Wohl at age 12 – and one of his shared thoughts on the aftermath of Andrew

Were his parents proud of their son’s work? “They had other things on their minds during these tough times,” Nicholas remembered, but he added, “I cannot emphasize enough how special Colette was. She had so much insight and knew what she was doing. She talked about it a lot, for instance she said, ‘This is going to be permanently placed in the University of Miami Library. And you will be forever able to go and visit it.’ And I remember, years later when I was here studying for a promotion, I went up to Special Collections to see the photos and take pictures.”

Actually, before the images became part of the archives at Special Collections, they were in an exhibition. “We all knew that the work had to be exhibited, the students, the parents and me,” said Colette.

To mark the first anniversary of Hurricane Andrew in 1993, the photographs were shown at the Miami Art Museum at the Congressional Gallery in Tallahassee and in Santa Fe, New Mexico under the title “Eye of the Storm thru the Eye of a Child”. The title came from Aurelio Sica, a famous Florida advertising photographer whose daughter, Amanda, was in Colette’s class.  Asked if she feels that the exhibit generated a heightened awareness of the situation in South Miami, Colette answered with a straight ‘Yes’. “In Tallahassee I was told that the students’ images were viewed by Congress to help determine monies to be allotted to different areas for recovery. The children were thrilled that they were part of the healing process.”

Nicholas Wohl’s photo became the exhibit’s promotional image

University of Miami professors Michael L. Carlebach and Eugene Provenzo were instrumental in bringing the photographs to Special Collections. Just like Colette Stemple, they considered the images a testament to the ingenuity and resiliency of South Floridians in the face of such devastation.

The “Hurricane Andrew Collection”  can be viewed any time at Special Collections, located on the eighth floor of the Otto G. Richter Library.

Now Accepting Applications: The Dave Abrams and Gene Banning Pan Am Research Grant 2017

The Dave Abrams and Gene Banning Pan Am Research Grant

Abrams Banning Winner Graphic (275x105)The Pan Am Historical Foundation announces the tenth 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 November 15, 2017

Please send inquiries and applications to:

The Dave Abrams & Gene Banning Pan Am Research Grant
c/o Jay Sylvestre
University of Miami Libraries
1300 Memorial Drive
Coral Gables, FL 33146-0320

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

2016: Sean Seyer, “Independent Internationalism in the Air: Pan American Airlines, the Pan American Union, and the 1928 Havana Convention”

2015: Josue Sakata, Boston Public School Primary Source Sets

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”

THIS JUST IN: Dissecting Gender Roles through Greeting Cards

By Yvette Yurubi, Special Collections Archives Assistant

According to the Greeting Card Association, greeting cards have their recorded origins dating as far back as the Ancient Egyptians, who would often include messages of goodwill on papyrus scrolls. Greeting cards had a prolific growth in use with the advent of the printing press and the rise of systemic, government-operated mail delivery that made it easier to transmit letters over greater distances. They experienced a cultural rebirth in the late 1800s and 1900s when Valentine’s Day celebrations in Great Britain popularized the exchange of small tokens of affection, the most notable being Valentine’s Day cards. Since then greeting cards have become ubiquitous in expressing all kinds of sentiments, from “get well” wishes to birthday and anniversary regards.

Because of their growth in popularity, greeting cards contain a wealth of information about the evolution of social history, and they present a more intimate depiction of how historical events were being interpreted by businesses trying to cash in on widespread, popular attitudes of the time. Most notably, they help illustrate the casual use of sexist images and terminology, much of it embodied in the images of children, who were often the recipients of these cards, without any thought or care for the subtle way they were emphasizing societal views on gender roles. Our newly acquired Vintage Greeting Card Collection represents a sample portion of how much traditional gender roles had permeated our social conscience with the cards aimed at girls, often including women either in sexually implicit context or in domestic roles, such as doing housework or nurturing children. There is also a heavy dosage of flowers, lace, hearts, pink backgrounds, and other imagery traditionally associated with femininity spread throughout them. In contrast, the cards which feature boys or men in them usually have them playing with cars or trucks or taking on the role of doctors, cowboys, and astronauts, and the cards are generally more restrained in color and decoration.

Interestingly enough, not all cards adhere firmly to gender roles, as there are numerous cards that blatantly depict women in non-traditional career roles, performing activities such as mining, piloting airplanes, sailing, and even being portrayed as soldiers. One of the more unique acquisitions is a World War II-era card in which female soldiers are disciplining each of the leaders of the Axis powers in a manner befitting of a mother scolding a small child. Likewise, among the cards featuring men, there are a few of them showing men in a nurturing role as fathers and caretakers. One card even shows a female kitten and a male dog riding on a bike together with the female kitten steering while the male dog holds a bouquet of flowers.

The writings inside the cards contain an extra layer of story-telling that often contributes to the unique rarity of these cards. For instance, one card with racy women on the cover has writing in pencil stating, “Gee kid don’t you wish you had a shape like this, SLIM,” to an unknown recipient named Vera. It’s easy to weave a tale around such messages as these, imagining who both the sender and receivers were, and what kind of relationship they may have had with one another. Not knowing the truth provides an intriguing mystique to these cards that bids our imaginations to run wild.

You can see more cards like these now at the Special Collections Department, currently located in the eighth floor of the Otto G. Richter Library.