|Scope and Content Note|
Hans Herman Hugo Ernest Wilhelm von Groenhoff (1906-1985) was an aviation photographer. He was born in Hamburg, Germany, to a Lutheran minister and his wife on October 15, 1906. He attended law school in Germany briefly prior to leaving for the United States in 1927. He married Freda Groenhoff in 1928 and became a naturalized American citizen in 1936. Hans Groenhoff followed in his brother Gunther's professional footsteps by learning to fly. He did so at Bendix Field in New Jersey and at Flushing Airport in New York. His professional life was spent as an aviation photographer, writer, editor, and correspondent. Hans Groenhoff was most well known for his aviation photography that appeared in such publications as Life, Colliers, Esquire, National Geographic and the Saturday Evening Post. Those included Flying, Flying and Popular Aviation, Air Trails Pictorial, Sportsman Pilot, and Aero Digest. Groenhoff spent most of his career in the New York area. He later lived and worked in Florida. His last major photography contract was with the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, which led him all over the Caribbean and then to Europe to promote the Bahamas as a tourist destination. Hans Groenhoff's aviation photography career is documented in the book Focus on Flight: The Aviation Photography of Hans Groenhoff by E. T. Woodridge (Smithsonian Institution, 1985).
The images in the Hans Groenhoff Photographic Collection are primarily of American aircraft and were taken from 1933 to 1967. Most were taken while he worked under contract for aircraft manufacturers shooting publicity photography. Some of the represented manufacturers are Curtiss, Piper, Beech, Grumman, and Aeronca. Groenhoff also took many images of gliders during soaring and gliding contests in Elmira, New York.
The Hans Groenhoff Photographic Collection was a gift to the National Air and Space Museum. The copyright to the images in the collection has been transferred to the Museum. Additional collection items were obtained for the Smithsonian in 1984. Upon donation in 1962, the collection was held in the Museum's Aeronautics Division. In 1985, curator E. T. Wooldridge and the Museum staff produced an exhibit of Groenhoff's work. That same year, Wooldridge's book, Focus on Flight, was published. The collection was then transferred to the Archives Division, where it is now housed. The collection has been transferred from acidic paper jackets to mylar enclosers and acid free boxes.
The Hans Groenhoff Photographic Collection consists of 8 linear feet (4.5 cubic feet) of photographic material. It contains a total of 2630 single items and 343 rolls of film for an approximate total of 14,900 original images. The collection is in good condition with very little deterioration. It is organized into five series: Series I: Hans Groenhoff A (HGA), Series II: Hans Groenhoff (HGB), Series III: Hans Groenhoff (HGC), Series IV: Hans Groenhoff (HGD), and Series V: Copies.
The images in Series I and II were taken in the Bahamas and other locations in the Caribbean during the latter part of Groenhoff's career. The remainder of the collection relates to aviation topics. The images in HGC and HGD are cataloged in the NASM photographic database. Every HGC 4x5 image and every piece of HGD roll film has an entry in the NASM image database. Each database record contains the image's subject, Groenhoff image number, format and condition information, and NASM caption. Researchers may wish to contact the Archives Division in order to obtain access to the information contained in this database. Limited access to the database can be provided to researchers in our Reading Rooms, and written queries will be answered. In addition there is a written index of HGD at the beginning of that series.