Queens of the Air: American Women Aviation Pioneers
In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re celebrating the Queens of the Air!
Within the holdings of the National Archives, you will find many resources documenting the history and early days of aviation. Among these records include the stories and flights of American women aviation pioneers, captured by newsreel footage and World War I photographs.
The Moving Image and Sound Branch and the Motion Picture Preservation Lab at the National Archives recently collaborated on a large project to transcribe textural records accompanying the film reels digitized for the U.S. Army Signal Corps Historical Films project. Within textual material for an item titled Aviation, Historical, Since 1919 you can find Ruth Elder, the first woman to attempt a transatlantic flight.
American women aviation pioneers include Bessie Coleman, the first African American and Native American woman pilot, and known for her daring stunt tricks in the air. In 1922, she became the first African American woman to complete a public flight and audiences were thrilled with her loop-the-loop and Figure 8 tricks in her plane. She also became known for giving flight lessons and inspiring both Africans Americans and women to fly planes.
Willa Beatrice Brown was an aviator, flight instructor, officer, and civil rights activist, who created a path for thousands of black men and women to become pilots. Brown’s efforts to establish a training school for African American Air Force cadets led to the creation of the Army Training facility at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama in 1941.
Katherine Stinson became one of the first women in the United States to earn a pilot’s license on July 24, 1912, at the age of 21. After earning her license, Stinson and her family founded the Stinson Aircraft Company, and the Stinson School of Flying, in San Antonio, Texas. In 1918, Stinson became the first woman commissioned as a mail pilot for the Post Office Department. After working for the Post Office, Stinson applied to be a volunteer pilot for the army during World War I, but was rejected twice due to her gender. Learn more on the Unwritten Record blog.
Interested in more records and resources related to Women’s History?
Visit the Women’s History Month special topics page to find articles, videos, exhibits, photographs, education materials and more from the National Archives documenting the contributions of women throughout U.S. history.
You can also visit DocsTeach, the online tool for teaching with documents from the National Archives. Here you will find hundreds of primary sources and teaching activities devoted to Women’s Rights and Roles in American History. It’s one of our several Popular Topics pages.
click here for full story, photo and videos: National Archives
Story credit: National Archives newsletter; https://www.archives.gov/news/topics/womens-history