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Nelson U. Rokes Collection

Identifier: H015-81

Scope and Content

The collection arrived in fair condition and was initially processed with only a container list as description. Due to a change of the content management system, further description proved to be necessary.


  • 1930 - 1982
  • Majority of material found within 1935 - 1978

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

Nelson U. Rokes was born in 1914 in Rockland, Maine. Interested in flying as a teenager, he took his first lessons in 1928. Shortly after learning to fly he purchased his own plane and traveled around the east coast of the United States as a barnstormer. Afterwards, he flew for both Trans World Airways (TWA) and Braniff Airlines.

At the start of World War II, Rokes was assigned to be the personal pilot to Army Air Corps General Hume Peabody. Later in the war, he received flight duties with the top-secret Manhattan Project. There he flew scientists and payloads to various locations around the United States. After the war, he settled in Canton, Ohio and went to work as a corporate pilot for Sam Keener and the Salem Engineering Company.

Rokes was the pilot for an epic around the world journey while he was flying for Salem Engineering Company. In 1947, Sam Keener had gone to Europe (with Rokes as his pilot) to investigate potential markets for Salem Engineering Company products in countries rebuilding from the devastation of World War II. Keener decided to follow this successful trip up with an around the world sales trip. In 1948, Sam Keener, Nelson Rokes, a co-pilot, navigator, a secretary, a reporter for the Canton Economist, and a photographer for Life Magazine started out on a flight that took them from the United States to Japan, Australia, the Middle East, into the heart of Europe, and back to the United States. After the successful completion of this trip, Rokes continued to fly for Salem Engineering Company.

In early 1950, he left Salem to manage the New York based travel agency Travel Services, Inc. Rokes was a part owner of this business. However, Rokes’ true joy was flying and in 1950, he left Travel Services, Inc. for a pilot’s job in Proctor and Gamble’s Corporate Aviation Division. Rokes spent the next 28 years with the company, both as a pilot and administrator of the corporate fleet. Rokes retired from Proctor and Gamble in 1978, but continued to remain an active flyer until his death in 1982.


Nelson U. Rokes Collection, Box 1, Folder 5, History of Aviation Archives, Special Collections and Archives Division, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas.
Melanie Tucker. “Flight of a Lifetime: Pilot’s Wife Recalls Hardships, Chance Meetings with Famous Faces”. The Daily Times (Maryville, TN), April 23, 2005.
Serling, Robert J. Howard Hughes Airline: An Informal History of TWA. St. Martin’s Press, 1983.


7.4 Linear Feet (One envelope, four record center boxes, four manuscript boxes, and one non-standard box (20.5x16.5x3).)


The Nelson U. Rokes Collection contains material pertaining to his career in the fields of corporate, commercial, and military aviation. The bulk of the material in the collection relates to the 1947 trip to Europe and the 1948-1949 around the world trip that he took with Sam Keener. The material in the collection includes charts, log books, landing clearances, flight plans, meteorological reports, and various navigational tools. Photographs and newspapers clippings are also present in the collection.

Series Description

The archivist kept the original organization intact without any further arrangement.

Provenance Statement

The Nelson U. Rokes Collection was donated to the History of Aviation Archives, Special Collections and Archives Division, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas, by Jean Rokes in 1981.

Additional Sources

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

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

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: 5NUR-1-1-PC1

5 = History of Aviation Archives

NUR = Nelson U. Rokes Collection

= Series Number

1 = Box Number

1 = Folder Number

P = Photograph/Postcard

C = Color

1 = 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 Nelson U. Rokes Collection, 1914-1982
Thomas Allen, PhD, CA
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Edition statement
First revision by Madeline Hoff, 2018-11-05.

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
972-883-4590 (Fax)