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Arthur Ronnie collection of Los Angeles aviation photographs

 Collection
Identifier: 7088

Content Description

A collection of 115 photographic prints and 149 negatives of early Los Angeles aviation, including several of Amelia Earhart, Charles Lindbergh, and other pioneering pilots at the first National Air Meet held in Los Angeles in September of 1928 at Mines Field (now the location of the Los Angeles International Airport). The collection also includes two scrapbooks that cover the National Air Races held between 1935 and 1947 -- along with correspondence between Arthur Ronnie--the collector of the material--and various magazine editors regarding potential use of his collected photographs in publications. Most of the photographic prints in the collection relate to the 1928 National Air Races. However, the negatives in the collection cover a broader range of aviation events and dates, including the Los Angeles stop of the Graf Zeppelin's 1929 round-the-world flight, Charles Lindbergh and actor Will Rogers on a Maddux airlines flight, and events relating to the Los Angeles Examiner's Rickenbacker Club.

A few of the photographs in the collection are inscribed by people featured in the photographs "to Art Ronnie." Among these is a group photograph taken in front of an airplane hangar that pictures actress Mary Pickford holding a large bouquet of roses and standing next to Charles Lindbergh. The photograph is signed by Pickford. Two other photographs of the airplane Yankee Doodle are signed by Captain Art Goebel, who piloted the airplane to west-east and east-west speed records. There is also a group portrait of the "three musketeers" army aerobatic team, which included Lindbergh, Lt. J. A. Woodring, and Lt. W. L. Cornelius. Lastly, the collection holds four copies of a caption sheet that lists descriptions for a portion of the images. The caption sheet is accompanied by a corresponding set of small photo reproductions, which are numbered according to the caption sheet's sequence.

Dates

  • 1920 - 1972
  • Majority of material found within 1928 September 8 - 1928 September 16

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

Advance notice required for access.

Conditions Governing Use

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Manuscripts Librarian. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

Biographical / Historical

Arthur Ronnie (born 1930)--former Los Angeles Herald Examiner reporter and studio publicist--initially collected and identified the material in this collection. Ronnie held a lifelong passion for aviation, beginning with his first job at the age of 14 washing aircrafts at a local flying school and continuing throughout his life as a major collector of books and historic aviation imagery. The Altadena resident wrote in a 1971 letter to a magazine editor, which accompanies this archive, that he acquired the photographs 15 years prior at a local junk shop.

"I do not believe any of these pictures have ever been published before," Ronnie wrote to the editor of American Heritage magazine, who rejected one of Ronnie's proposals for an article that would feature some of the images. Ronnie also described the extent of his personal collection in the letter: "A portion of my library comprises some 4,000 books on aviation which includes almost every book on air racing published in the last 30 years, as well as every book by or about Lindbergh and Miss Earhart. None of these pictures appear in the books."

The National Air Races, which were established in 1920 by publisher Joseph Pulitzer, came to Los Angeles for eight days in September of 1928. The event was organized by a group of Los Angeles business and community leaders, including Los Angeles Mayor George Cryer, Los Angeles Times publisher Harry Chandler, aircraft pioneer Donald Douglas, and Hollywood impresario Sid Grauman. The Races featured daily special themes, such as "World Flight Day" and "Navy Day" as well as events with cash prizes and trophies for such goals as setting new distance or endurance records. Notably, some seventy entrants competed for $40,000 in prizes in a transcontinental air race from New York to Los Angeles. Band concerts, fireworks, parachute jumps, formation flying, and air extravaganzas that included film and theater stars, dancers, and others were held throughout the Races' eight days. The host airport was Mines Field, which was specially built on a former barley field in only 58 days for the event. The California Air Race Association oversaw the establishment of three runways of 7,000 feet length and an exposition building of 20,000 square feet. Following the event, Mines Field was turned over to the City of Los Angeles for operation as a municipal airport, which now operates as the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

Extent

2.44 Linear Feet (5 boxes)

Language of Materials

English

Overview

A collection of 264 early Los Angeles aviation photographs, including several of Amelia Earhart, Charles Lindbergh, and other pioneering pilots at the first National Air Races held in Los Angeles in September of 1928 at Mines Field (now the location of the Los Angeles International Airport). Arthur Ronnie--former Los Angeles Herald Examiner reporter and studio publicist--initially collected and identified the material in this collection. Also included are copies of a caption sheet that lists descriptions of some of the images, correspondence between Arthur Ronnie and various magazine editors, glass plate negatives relating to the Los Angeles stop of the Graf Zeppelin's 1929 round-the-world flight, and two scrapbooks with material covering the National Air Races held between 1935 and 1947.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from Johnson Rare Books and Archives in three separate acquistions: March 27, 2019; October 28, 2019; and June 5, 2020.

Processing Information

Johnson Rare Books and Archives, the seller of the material described under this collection, provided most of the content included in this collection's scope and contents and biographical/historical notes.

Creator

Title
Finding aid for the Arthur Ronnie collection of Los Angeles aviation photographs
Status
Completed
Author
Bo Doub
Date
2019 April
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Revision Statements

  • 2019 November: Finding aid updated by Bo Doub to include accrual of additional photographs and two scrapbooks (housed in box nos. 2-3).
  • 2020 October: Finding aid updated by Bo Doub to include accrual of glass plate and celluloid negatives

Repository Details

Part of the USC Libraries Special Collections Repository

Contact:
Doheny Memorial Library 206
3550 Trousdale Parkway
Los Angeles California 90089-0189 United States