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Clara Adams Papers

Identifier: H003-67

Scope and Content

The Clara Adams Papers consists of papers, photographs, ephemera, books, artifacts, and newspaper clippings generated by, for and about Clara Adams.

While in Germany, she obtained monographs on Zeppelins that are in his collection. Biographical items such as a personal clipping file, the itinerary of her around the world flight, speaking engagements, and memorabilia are also included.

The collection also contains manuscript materials relating to lighter-than-air travel as well as speeches, broadcasts, and notes relating to powered flight. There are notes and clippings about Adams’ personal flight records and observations, particularly those of inaugural clipper flights. Some materials pertain to aeronautical organizations such as Early Birds and Women's International Association of Aeronautics, aeronautical designers such as Earle S. Eckel (autogiro), and aeronautical events such as the dedication of the Floyd Bennett Airport. The collection also contains correspondence divided into incoming (arranged alphabetically by writer), outgoing (arranged chronologically), and correspondence about Adams (arranged chronologically). Incoming letters comprise the bulk of correspondence. The collection is also comprised of articles from periodicals, journals, and newsletters.

The collection arrived in fair condition. Materials in this collection were arranged primarily by subjects, i.e: personal papers, manuscript materials, aeronautical organizations, designers and events, correspondence, and newspaper clippings related to aviation and geography of the Pacific.


  • Creation: 1919 - 1967


Language of Materials

Collection is in English.

Access Restrictions

Materials in this collection are open for research.

Literary Rights Statement

Permission to publish material from this collection in any form, current or future, must be obtained from the Special Collections and Archives Division, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas.

Biographical Sketch

Clara Adams was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on December 3, 1884. She was married to George Lincoln Adams. Her father’s mother was Augusta von Hindenburg (maiden), a distant relative of Paul von Hindenburg, President of Germany. Her cousin was Colonel Arthur C. Goebel, winner of the Dole Prize in 1927. She attended the Conservatory of Music in Leipzig, Germany, where her father Walter Grabau was a professor of music. Her mother lived next door to Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin in Baden-Baden.

Her aviation connection began in March of 1914, where she flew in a Thomas flying boat with pilot Captain Walter E. Johnson at Lake Eustis, Florida. In February of 1917, Adams flew 1,000 feet at San Antonio, Texas, with pilot Lieutenant Marjorie Stinson of the Aviation Corps of the United States Army.

In 1924, a letter of introduction from Paul von Hindenburg led to a visit and friendship between Adams and Dr. Hugo Eckener as well as his associate, Dr. Ludwig Duerr. Adams and Dr. Eckener were guest passengers on a test flight of the ZR-3, later known as United States Navy dirigible Los Angeles. While in Friedrichshafen, Germany, home of the Zeppelins, Adams met Dr. Claude Dornier who designed and built the flying boat Do X.

In October of 1928, Adams purchased the first ticket for a female passenger to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. Adams was the only woman who flew from the United States to Germany on the Graf Zeppelin (LZ-127) on its pioneer round trip originating in Germany. The flight lasted 71 hours. Adams visited with President Hoover in April of 1930 to obtain credentials in order to fly on British dirigible R-101 from England to the United States. Unfortunately, the airship crashed in France before the flight.

Adams was the only paying woman to fly on the Dornier Do X from Rio de Janeiro to New York in 1931. To meet the flight, she flew from the U.S. to Rio de Janeiro on Pan American Airways. In May of 1936, Adams was one of eleven women on board the maiden flight of the Hindenburg (LZ-129) from Germany to the United States. In the same year, she flew on the inaugural commercial passenger flight of Pan American's China Clipper across the Pacific Ocean. The 8,200 mile flight from San Francisco to Manila took six days with stops at Honolulu, Midway, Wake Island and Guam. She also flew on the first scheduled passenger flight of Pan American’s Hawaii Clipper to Hawaii. Adams also flew on the first round trip flight of the Bermuda Clipper from New York to Bermuda in 1937.

From June 18th to July 15th, 1939, Adams set a new passenger record for round-the-world flight by regular airlines at sixteen days and nineteen hours with a distance of 24,609 miles covered. She first flew from New York to Marseille in the Dixie Clipper- the first commercial transatlantic clipper flight. She then continued on to Leipzig, Athens, Basra, Jodhpur, Rangoon, Bangkok, Manila, Guam, Wake, Honolulu, San Francisco, and New York.

Adams flew on the inaugural coast to coast flight from New York to Los Angeles on Transcontinental and Western Air Stratoliner in fourteen hours and eight minutes in July of 1940. In September of the same year, Adams flew 8,000 miles on the passenger flight on a Boeing 314 flying boat from San Francisco to New Zealand with overnight stops in Hawaii, Canton Island, and New Caledonia.

To commemorate the 30th anniversary of the first passenger flight across the Pacific in 1966, Adams joined five of the original passengers and officers on a celebratory flight.

In 1968, Adams was one of fifty honored guests at the Explorers Club dinner tribute to the aviation industry.

Clara Adams died on February 10, 1971.


4.2 Linear Feet (Eight manuscript boxes and one non-standard box (11.5x17.5x3.5).)


Adams was associated with many aeronautical figures of international distinction, mainly early women aviators. Her personal friendship with Dr. Hugo Eckener of Germany as well as passage on experimental and inaugural Zeppelin flights, such as the Graf Zeppelin and Hindenburg, led to her becoming a proponent of lighter-than-air travel.

Series Description

All materials were rehoused into new acid-free folders and manuscript boxes at the time of the first revision. The archivist kept the original organization as intact as possible, with only slight changes to non-standard sized items.

Provenance Statement

The Clara Adams Papers were donated to the History of Aviation Archives, Special Collections and Archives Division, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas, in two parts; the first by George Haddaway in 1967 and the second in 1977 by Vice Admiral Charles E. Rosendahl.

Additional Sources

Additional information about this topic can be found in the History of Aviation Archives in the following Collection:

History of Aviation Archives

Image ID

It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission from copyright holders of materials to which this institution does not own copyright.

Images in this collection are identified by a unique number that provides information about the format, record group, collection, series, box, folder, and image numbers. Please use this number when ordering reproductions of images from this collection.

Record Group Code

1 = CAT/Air American Archives

2 = Doolittle Archives

3 = Lighter than Air Archives

4 = George H. Williams, Jr., World War I Aviation Library

5 = History of Aviation Archives (HAC)

6 = University Archives

7 = HAC Stacks

8 = WPRL Stacks

9 = Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Collection

10 = Belsterling Collection

11 = Closed Stacks

12 = Unidentified

13 = Chance Vought Archives

14 = Twirly Birds Archives

Image Format Code

P = Photograph/Postcard

S = Slide

N = Negative

T = Positive Transparency

B = Black and White

C = Color

Example: 05CA-01-01-PC001

05 = History of Aviation Archives (HAC)

CA = Clara Adams Papers

01 = Box Number

01 = Folder Number

P = Photograph/Postcard

C = Color

001 = Image Number

Images archived in plastic image holders may also have a location code in the format: 1/TL. In this example, the number is the sheet number and the letters indicate the top left position on the sheet. Position indicators are T = top, L = left, R = right, M = middle, and B = bottom. Position indicators may be combined to describe the position on the sheet, as shown in this example.

Guide to the Clara Adams Papers, 1884-1971
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
English (eng)
Edition statement
First revision by Cassandra Zawojek, 2018-09-28. Second revision by Patrizia Nava, CA, 2022-05-04.

Revision Statements

  • 2018-09-28: 1st revision was a migration to ArchivesSpace by Cassandra Zawojek.
  • 2022-05-04: 2nd revision was an update of the Image ID number. More materials were discovered and added to the finding aid by Patrizia Nava, CA.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and Archives Division, History of Aviation Archives. Repository

3020 Waterview Pkwy
Suite 11.206
Richardson Texas 75080 US