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William F. Yeager Aviation Collection

Identifier: MS-223

Scope and Content

The William F. Yeager Aviation Collection is divided into six series. The bulk of the collection is more than 25,000 photographs and negatives that were part of Mr. Yeager's aviation photography business.

Series I, William Yeager Personal Information and Memorabilia, is grouped into four major groups of material. The first group contains photographs of Mr. Yeager ranging from a photograph of him as a child to his 1990 funeral at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D. C. Researchers should especially note the photographs of Mr. Yeager during World War II while he was flying with the 320th Bomb Group. In particular, there are a number of photographs taken of the bomb groups operations in North Africa, Sardinia, and France. The grouping also contains a number of photographs of Mr. Yeager after World War II, including his official U.S. Air Force photograph used for promotion boards.

The second major group of Series I is personal information. Of particular note is a letter, which was used for a 1943 Look Magazine article, entitled "An Account of My First Raid Over North Africa." Also included is the General Order awarding him the Air Medal on September 13, 1943, membership certificates, resumes' of his experience, and his Last Will and Testament.

The third major group of Series I is Memorabilia, including Souvenir Programs. Included in this group is the graduation program for Pilot Training Class 42-G on July 23, 1943, "The Thunderbird Annual" for 1941-1942," the Gardner Field, CA "Bee Tee" for 1942, and information on the 319th Bomb Group Association for the period 1974 to 1988. There are a number of Souvenir Programs, including several from air races around the country. Finally, there are two boxes of material containing rank insignia, name tags, and of particular note Army medals, including Lt. Yeager's Distinguished Flying Cross.

Series II, Publications, is divided into four major groupings. The first major group is Aviation Brochures. This group contains general information brochures about such companies as American Airlines (1944), Boeing Aircraft (1958, 1980), Lockheed Aircraft (1929-1932), Northrop Aircraft (1933-1946), and Stearman Aircraft (c.a.1930s). The second group contains general aviation brochures such as "The Jet Aircraft of the World" (1950), "A Chronicle of the Aviation Industry in America" (1947-1950), and "The Organization - Research Activities and Facilities of NACA" (1943. The third group of material includes magazines, newsletters, booklets and catalogs. This group contains a variety of aviation-related materials ranging from Munsey's Magazine (1910, 1912) and Navy Air Pilot and Military Aeronautic Review (1918) to more recent aviation material such Spotlight Magazines article "Wings Over Cleveland." The bulk of the material in this group is dated between 1939 and 1960. The final group in Series II is oversize material. Most of the material in this group is from World War II and includes such material as The Bowman Bomber (1941) and Life Magazine (1942).

Series III, Flight Training Books, Records, and Tools, is divided into three major groups related to flight and flight training. The first major group contains flight records and information. This series contains information concerning Mr. Yeager's flying activities. It includes his U.S. Army Air Corps Pilot Log Books, his individual flight diaries, and his individual flight records from 1940 to 1963. It also contains Ferrying Orders and Flying notes during the same period. Additionally, the group contains Mr. Yeager's flight log books, daily flight logs, and schedules when he flew for World Wide Helicopters in Benghazi, Libya, Air Commuter Airlines in Cleveland, and Wright Airlines, also out of Cleveland. Finally, this group contains general information such as air traffic control procedures and regulations for the early 1950s, an amplified resume of his aeronautical experience, and FAA flight maps from the late 1940s. Researchers interested in flight training methods of the 1940s will find the second and third major groups interesting and informative. The second major group contains flight regulations, manuals and technical orders. Much of this material is Army Air Corps basic flight training material from the 1940s including flying regulations, technical orders for instrument flying, and fundamentals of flight maneuvers. The group also contains inspection handbooks, radio facility charts and FAA location identifiers. The last major group contains flight tools and books. This group contains hand held dead reckoning computers, distance and speed computers, flight operation guide cards for range and fuel consumption (P-51, B-24, and L-2), and several small handbooks for aircraft engines.

Series IV, Correspondence, contains letters received and sent by Mr. Yeager from 1937 to 1987. Most of the letters are business related, but also includes letters from friends and family written during and immediately written after World War II. Among the postcards in Box 18 is a postcard signed by Jimmy Doolittle.

Series V, Aircraft History, Design, and General Information, is grouped into five major areas. The first major area includes information on aviation history, design and analysis. This group contains a number of "Design Analysis" articles printed in Aviation Magazine from 1943 and 1944 and includes analysis of such airplanes as the Bell Airacobra, the North American P-51 "Mustang," and the Boeing B-17 "Flying Fortress." This major grouping also contains Institute of the Aeronautical Sciences "Historical Briefs" on a variety of subjects, Air Age Technical Library "Warplane Research" articles on American World War II aircraft, and booklets on the "History of the U.S. Air Force" and a chronology of Air Force Historical Events from 1907 to 1957. The second major area includes general aircraft information. This area includes aircraft lists, CAA Aircraft Specifications, and general information about U.S. aircraft. The third major group is oversize material. This group primarily consists of drawings of racing planes by R. S. Hirsch, drawings of aircraft by Mr. Yeager, and several blueprints or plans for miniature aircraft. The fourth major group consists of air racing information. This small group contains information such as official standings for eight years from 1929 to 1949, newspaper clippings about the National Air Races in Cleveland from the 1940s and 1950s, and an August 1973 article "Dole Derby: Roaring 20s Fatal Air Race." The fifth, and last major group, contains aircraft accident information. The accident summaries and reports in this area span a period beginning in 1930 and ending in 1964. There are also National Transportation Safety Board recommendations for the 1970s and early 1980s.

The sixth, and largest series, is Series VI, Photographs and Negatives. This series spans 94 boxes, 11,255 photographs and approximately 18,000 negatives. The series is divided into three subseries. Subseries VIA contains general aircraft photograph information. Included in this subseries is a list of photographs taken by Mr. Yeager, a photo card file used by him in his photo service, and a variety of photograph packs including Thompson Valves' "Famous Flights, 1926-1938," official photographs of U.S. Army and Navy planes, and photo packs of World War II Allied nations aircraft. There are also several photograph catalogs, along with photographs of AAF and U.S. Navy planes in action both in Europe and in the South Pacific.

The second (VIB) and third subseries (VIC) contain photographs and negatives. The images are grouped according to type of aircraft (civilian, military, and racing), manufacturer, and are in alphabetical order. Researchers should note that most of the images are of 1920s, 1930, and 1940s aircraft. In most cases, the images are in the public domain for copyright purposes, but some images are copyright protected, which is indicated on the reverse of the photograph. It is important to note that almost all of the photographs and negatives have been identified with their make and model number, their tail and/or aircraft number, the type of engine used in the aircraft, and the view of the plane. Also, in most cases, individuals in the photograph, such as Jimmie Doolittle and Charles Lindbergh, are identified.

Subseries VIB is divided into several major groups according to size of photograph, e.g. 8" x 10," 5" x 7," 5" x 8," and 4" x 5," and type of aircraft, e.g. civilian, military, and racing. The first group of photographs contains 1454 8"x 10" photographs of civilian and military aircraft. Photographs are grouped according to aircraft manufacturer and in alphabetical order. The largest group of photographs is of Lockheed aircraft. Other large groups include Boeing, Curtiss, Douglas, Fokker, Grumman, North American, and Northrop. The second group of photographs contains 283 photographs of racing airplanes. Represented in this group are a wide variety of racing aircraft including aircraft designed by the Granville Brothers, Keith Rider, and Wedell-Williams. Finally, at the end of the 8" x 10" photographs are a variety of other photographs including 52 photographs of the United States Air Force Museum in the late 1950s and 31 photographs of Charles and Anne Lindbergh's early 1930s Transatlantic Survey Flight for Pan American Airlines. The second major group consists of 506 5" x 7" photographs. The third major group consists of 120 5" x 8" photographs. The fourth, and by far the largest group, consists of 8,942 photographs ranging in size from 1" x 1" to 4" x 5." The box and file listing for group four is not as detailed as the previous groups described above. Group four is organized according to type of aircraft (civilian, military and racing) and then is arranged in alphabetical order according to manufacturer. However, individual photographs are not listed. Instead, ranges of files are provided for each manufacturer. In cases where there are large numbers of aircraft for a particular manufacturer, the photographs are grouped and listed according to their model number. Photograph researchers will note that there are 3039 photographs of civilian aircraft, 3924 photographs of military aircraft, and 1979 photographs of racing aircraft. Among civilian aircraft, there are a large number of photographs of Lockheed aircraft. Among military aircraft, there are a high number of photographs of aircraft produced by Boeing, Curtiss, Douglas, Grumman, Lockheed, Martin, Northrop, North American, and Vought. Finally, major concentrations of racing aircraft photographs include aircraft produced by Curtiss, the Granville Brothers, Howard, Laird, Lockheed, Keith Rider, Wedell-Williams, and Steve Wittman.

A selection of photographs from Subseries VIB, have been scanned and are available online in Wright State University's Campus Online Repository (CORE Scholar): To search for a specific image from this collection in CORE Scholar, search for the item using the following format: ms223_BBB_FF_XXX, where "BBB" is the three-digit Box number listed in the finding aid, "FF" is the two-digit File number, and "XXX" is the three-digit item number. For example, to locate the Aeronca C-3 photograph found in Box 33, File 2, Item 1, search for ms223_033_02_001.

Subseries VIC consists of approximately 18,000 negatives. This subseries is also grouped according to size of negative (8" x 10," 5" x 7," and 4" x 5") and according to type of aircraft (civilian, military, and racing). Within each of these major divisions the negatives are in alphabetical order according to manufacturer. There are 334 8"x 10" negatives, 178 5" x 7" negatives, and a little more than 17,000 4" x 5" negatives. As in the 4" x 5" photographs, the 8" x 10" and 5" x 7" negatives are listed with a range of file numbers associated with a specific manufacturer. In the case of the 4" x 5" negatives, the 50 boxes containing negatives have the name of the manufacturer for the first file in the box and the name of the manufacturer for the last file in the box, i.e. Abrams - Avro. Because the number of negatives exceeds the number of prints listed in the collection, researchers will likely find photograph negatives of aircraft not listed in the photograph part of the finding aid. Please note that deteriorated cellulose nitrate and cellulose acetate 8x10 negatives in Box 69 were digitized and are only available in the reading room as digital images. To view, please request ms223_e0001 from the E-Archives.


  • Creation: 1925 - 1990


Restrictions on Access

There are no restrictions on accessing materials in this collection.

Restrictions on Use

Copyright restrictions may apply. Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.

Biography of William Yeager

William Francis Yeager was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on April 1, 1915. His early interests concerned aviation and railroad trains, but by the time he reached adulthood, aviation had become his primary interest.

Yeager's high school graduation was delayed by his having to take various jobs to support his family during the Great Depression. Yeager finished his high school education and graduated from West Technical High School in Cleveland, in August 1937 at the age of 22. Following his graduation, Yeager spent the next several years working primarily for The Higbee Company and the George Worthington Company in Cleveland. During this time, Yeager worked as the official photographer for the National Air Races, which were held in Cleveland.

In October 1939, Yeager got a job with the Fish and Wildlife Service as an administrative assistant in Hebron, Ohio and La Crosse, Wisconsin. Yeager qualified for the Civilian Pilot Training Program at this time and received flight training in late 1940 and early 1941. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps on June 10, 1941.

Yeager's first few months in the Air Corps were spent as a crew chief on various aircraft. He took a College Qualification Examination to qualify for Aviation Cadet training and began his training at Gardener Field, California, in 1942 as a member of the Air Corps Reserve. Afterwards, Yeager was assigned to the 443rd Bomb Squadron in North Africa, as a B-25 co-pilot where he earned the Distinguished Flying Cross. After his combat career, Yeager was assigned to fly for Air Transport Command. He was released from the Army Air Forces in January 1947.

In September 1947, Yeager was recalled by the Air Force. In the interim, he had returned briefly to the Fish and Wildlife Service and had worked as an Air Traffic Controller in Cleveland. Over the next two and a half years, Yeager served in various capacities, as an instructor pilot and flight examiner, flying passengers and cargo, and fulfilling administrative duties. In January 1950, Yeager was made a member of the Inactive Reserves.

From January 1950 through October 1951, Yeager was employed as a corporate pilot by various companies in the Cleveland area. In April 1951, Yeager took flight courses from American Flyers, in Fort Worth, Texas, resulting in his receiving an airline transport pilot rating.

In October 1951, Yeager was recalled to active duty by the Air Force. He worked for Strategic Air Command in Morocco throughout 1952 and into 1953. After this assignment, Yeager flew search and rescue missions in Alaska until early 1955. From 1955 until 1963, Yeager served as an Air Force Logistics Command Ferry Pilot and as a flight test maintenance officer, stationed at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma. Yeager retired from the Air Force on December 31, 1963.

Yeager spent 1965-1967 working for World Wide Helicopters in Libya. There he flew DeHavilland Beavers and various other aircraft on survey flights.

Yeager returned home in 1967 and began working for Air Commuter, Inc., which was absorbed into Wright Air Lines in 1968. Yeager was dismissed from Wright Air Lines in 1969.

In the late 1970's, Yeager became active in the 320th Bomb Group Association. Yeager passed away in 1990 at the age of 75 and was buried in Arlington Cemetery in Washington D. C.


68.31 linear feet

173 Gigabytes

Language of Materials



William F. Yeager was a military and commercial pilot, as well as an aviation photographer and collector who owned an aviation photography business. The collection consists of information about Yeager's WWII experience as a B-25 pilot in North Africa and his post-war flying experience as an Air Force and commercial pilot. The collection also contains flight training books, flying tools, correspondence, and aircraft history and design information. The bulk of the collection is more than 25,000 aviation photographs and negatives that have been organized according to make, model and type of aircraft. A selection of photographs from Subseries VIB, have been scanned and are available online in Wright State University's Campus Online Repository (CORE Scholar): To search for a specific image from this collection in CORE Scholar, search for the item using the following format: ms223_BBB_FF_XXX, where "BBB" is the three-digit Box number listed in the finding aid, "FF" is the two-digit File number, and "XXX" is the three-digit item number. For example, to locate the Aeronca C-3 photograph found in Box 33, File 2, Item 1, search for ms223_033_02_001.

Statement of Arrangement

The collection is arranged into six series and three subseries:

  1. Series I: William Yeager Personal Information & Memorabilia
  2. Series II: Publications
  3. Series III: Flight Training Books, Records and Tools
  4. Series IV: Correspondence
  5. Series V: Aircraft History, Design, and General Information
  6. Series VI: Aircraft Photographs and Negatives
  7. Subseries VIA: General Aircraft Photographs
  8. Subseries VIB: Photographs
  9. Subseries VIC: Negatives

Acquisition Information

The collection was donated to Special Collections and Archives by Yeager's wife, Helen, in 1991. An addition was received in January 2011.

Separated Materials

Due to advanced deterioration and risk to nearby materials, 348 cellulose nitrate and cellulose acetate negatives (8x10) in late stages of deterioration (all in Box 69) were digitized and the originals safely disposed of through Environmental Health and Saftery. The digital files are available in the reading room. To view, please request ms223_e0001 from the E-Archives.

Processing Information

Beginning in 1992, volunteers from the Huffman Prairie Aviation Historical Society (previously known as Huffman Prairie Chapter of the American Aviation Historical Society) began identifying the more than 25,000 photographs and negatives in the collection. Without their expertise, and more than 15 years of dedicated effort, the photographs and negatives in this collection would not be available to the public in the current detailed form.

Processed by: Richard R. Wirz, spring 1992. Steve Hausfeld, Joe Greer, and Tony Wright, spring 1997. John Armstrong, 2006-2007 and May 2011.

Guide to the William F. Yeager Aviation Collection (MS-223)
Finding aid prepared by Richard R. Wirz, spring 1992. Steve Hausfeld, Joe Greer, and Tony Wright, spring 1997. John Armstrong, 2006-2007 and May 2011.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Revision Statements

  • 2022 February 11: Deteriorated cellulose nitrate and cellulose acetate negatives in Box 69 were digitized and originals properly disposed through Environmental Health and Safety. Finding aid revised accordingly.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

Wright State University Libraries
Special Collections and Archives
3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy
Dayton OH 45435-0001 USA