|Scope and Content Note|
Rudy Arnold (1902-1966) was a commercial aviation photographer. He began his career by studying at the New York School of Photography in New York City, New York. Arnold worked for both The New York Journal-American and The New York Graphic as a photographer. By 1928 he had developed an interest in aviation photography and started his photography business. He primarily worked out of Floyd Bennett Field, Roosevelt Field and LaGuardia Airport in New York for aviation magazines and newspapers and aviation industry house organs. Arnold photographed both civil and military aircraft, including airplanes, airships, and helicopters. While Arnold took images on the ground, he used air-to-air photography extensively. Rudy ArnoldŐs photography was and still is considered to be artistic as well as a great documentary source. His photography was widely published during his career and still is today. Rudy ArnoldŐs aviation photography career is documented in the book Images of Flight: The Aviation Photography of Rudy Arnold by E.T. Woodridge (Smithsonian Institution, 1986).
The bulk of the images were taken between circa 1920 through 1940 on Long Island, New York. The majority of these images are of American aircraft. Some of the represented manufacturers are Grumman, Douglas, Lockheed and Curtiss. In addition, the collection contains images Arnold took of aviation personalities including Douglas Corrigan, Amelia Earhart, Wiley Post and Howard Hughes. There are also images of United States military personal, armaments and vehicles, Atlantic coastal defense, as well as aircraft models and civilian vehicles, among other topics.
The collection was held by the Arnold family for many years. It suffered water damage prior to being accessioned by the Archives Division. The damage is more noticeable in the color material where there are color variations. However, in most cases the aircraft in the image is not disfigured. This collection was housed in the Aeronautics Division of the National Air and Space Museum for several years before being transferred the Archives Division. Prior to the Archives Division rehousing the collection, the materials were in acidic paper jackets and housed in shoes boxes. These jackets had ArnoldŐs original caption and negative number. Most of the jackets were intact but a few were missing or has been damaged by moisture. After capturing the information on these jackets, the Archives Division has rehoused the collection and the individual items are now in mylar enclosers in acid free jackets and boxes.
The Rudy Arnold Photo Collection consists of 25.37 linear feet (10.91 cubic feet) of original photographic material. It contains 9,579 original photographic items: Series I contains 5,303 black and white negatives, Series II contains 3,058 color transparencies, Series III contains 447 black and white glass plate negatives and Series IV contains 769 120 mm format negatives and two 8 x 10 inch color transparencies. Each series is organized alphabetically starting with the aircraft company name and designation followed by personalities and various other subjects. The last item is a 3-ring binder with 369 35mm copy slides of a variety of ArnoldŐs images. While these copy slides are part this collection, they are not counted in the total number of items because they are copies of the Arnold originals.
The Rudy Arnold Photo Collection was a gift to the National Air and Space Museum. The copyright to the images in the Rudy Arnold Collection has been transferred to the National Air and Space Museum.
All of the 9,579 original photographic items in this collection are cataloged in the NASM photographic database. Researchers need to contact the Archives Division for access to the information contained in this database. Limited access to the database can be provided to researchers. Please note that 30 of the glass plate images are broken; only digital scans of these are available from the NASM Archives Division for research. Each Rudy Arnold database entry contains a section title, subject, original Rudy Arnold negative number when available, format and condition information, ArnoldŐs original description when available, and the NASM caption. Original Rudy Arnold negative numbers and descriptions are provided when they are known. Following the box listing is a Rudy Arnold database print-out for the format types in the collection: 4 x 5 inch black and white negatives, 4 x 5 inch color transparencies, glass plates, 120 mm black and white negatives, 120 color transparencies and 8 x 10 inch color transparencies.