Descriptive inventory for the Aero Club of Illinois records, 1909-1951, bulk 1911-1912

Aero Club of Illinois records

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Open Finding Aid

Descriptive inventory for the Aero Club of Illinois records, 1909-1951, bulk 1911-1912

Prepared by Adam Melville, 2016.
Please address questions to:
Chicago History Museum, Research Center
1601 North Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60614-6038
Instructions for accessing this collection

Collection Overview +/-

Title: Aero Club of Illinois records, 1909-1951 (inclusive), 1911-1912 (bulk)
Creators: McCormick, Harold F. (Harold Fowler), 1872-1941
Aero Club of Illinois
Dates: 1909-1951 (inclusive), 1911-1912 (bulk)
Accession number: M1965.0535
Bib number: 00064456
Call number: MSS Lot A
Size: 7.5 linear feet (19 boxes)
Language of material:Collection is written in English.

Provenance statement:

Materials were a gift of Charles A. Arens, Gordon Thomas, Donald J. Lockwood, Emil M. Laird, and estate of Walter L. Brock (accession #: M1965.0535).

Terms governing use:

Copyright may be retained by the creators of items, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States coyright law, unless otherwise noted.


This collection is open for research use.

Please cite this collection as:

Aero Club of Illinois records (Chicago History Museum) plus a detailed description, date, and series/box/folder/call number of a specific item.

Additional Materials +/-

Related material:

Related materials at Chicago History Museum, Research Center, include the Aero Club of Illinois photograph collection (1966.0569), posters and prints (cataloged in the Prints and Broadsides card catalog), publications in the library, and miscellaneous items relating to the 1911 and 1912 international aviation meets.

Collection Summary +/-

This collection includes correspondence, financial papers, membership data and application forms, bylaws, historic postmarks and newsletters relative to the club's membership and operations, to early aviation in Chicago and Illinois, and to aeronautical affairs in America and abroad. The bulk of the Aero Club of Illinois papers detail the planning for and staging of international aviation meets in 1911 and 1912. Contents of the collection describe the conception of the 1911 meet, the raising of $100,000 for prize money and operating expenses, the efforts to secure fliers from around the world, the pilot’s own demands for appearing in the meet, conditions for the events, and data regarding plane performances, including accident reports. Much of the correspondence documents Harold F. McCormick's efforts in securing the aid of Chicago's business community in attempting to make the meet a financial and professional success. Administrative matters, including concessions, ticket requests, entertainment, transportation, security and crowd-control matters, also are covered. Papers not devoted to the 1911 and 1912 meets relate to the Aero Club's daily activities, with many items involving club membership, testimonial dinners and luncheons, and subscriptions to aviation publications. Many of the post-1920 items are of a financial nature, including insurance policies for hangar rentals at Ashburn Field.

Biographical/Historical Note +/-

The Aero Club of Illinois, an affiliate of the Aero Club of America, was formed by prominent inventors, businessmen, and aviation enthusiasts interested in promoting aviation in the Middle West. According to the terms of its charter from the State of Illinois, February 10, 1910, the Aero Club's purposes were to foster aeronautical science; encourage aerial navigation, excursions, congresses, expositions, conferences, and inventions; and promote aerial races, trials, meets, games and exhibitions. The Aero Club operated two flying fields. The first, Cicero Flying Field, was utilized from 1911 until 1915, when club president Charles Dickinson turned over a property to the Aero Club to be Ashburn Field, which served as the organization's official flying field from 1915 to 1951. The club's executive offices were maintained in the Auditorium Building, Chicago. The Club sponsored two large aviation meets, the first in Chicago's Grant Park in August 1911, and the second in Clearing, Illinois, in September 1912. Aviators and plane manufacturers from the United States and Europe, both men and women, were represented in these meets including Lincoln Beachey, Glenn Curtiss, St. Croix Johnstone, Max Lillie, Glenn L. Martin, the Moisant Fliers, Tom Sopwith, Jules Vedrines, and the Wright Brothers. The 1912 aviation meet featured the Gordon-Bennett Cup Race. During the 1920s the Aero Club of Illinois assumed more and more of the status of a local flying club, with its activities gradually diminishing until it was disbanded in 1951.

Catalog Subject Headings +/-

Air mail service--United States
Aircraft industry
Airplane racing
Airplane racing--Illinois--Chicago--20th century
International Aviation Meet--1911--Chicago, Ill.
Women in aeronautics
World War, 1914-1918--Aerial operations
Arnold, Bion J. (Bion Joseph), 1861-1942
Dickinson, Charles, 1858-1935
Lougheed, Victor
McCormick, Harold F. (Harold Fowler), 1872-1941
McGann, Robert Greaves, 1866-
Plew, James E., 1862-
Aero Club of America
Financial records
Chicago (Ill.)--Commerce--20th century
Chicago (Ill.)--Social life and customs--20th century
Grant Park (Chicago, Ill.)

Organization and Arrangement of Collection +/-

The collection is arranged in one series. Within the series the materials are arranged chronologically with undated items, envelopes and receipt books appearing at the end.

Click on heading to view series description.

Series 1: Aero Club of Illinois (box 1-19)

About This Finding Aid +/-

Creation: Finding aid encoded by Adam Melville using Oxygen editor, 2016.
Language: Finding aid is written in English.
Processing Note:In August 2016, the receipt books from boxes 8, 10, 12 and 16-18; the prospectus from box 7; and visitors’ register from box 16 were moved into box 19.
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