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Colonel Edgar S. Gorrell (1891-1945) was a pilot and an advocate for aviation safety. He graduated from West Point in 1912 and then spent two years as an infantryman in Alaska before transferring to the Signal Corps, where he joined the 1st Aero Squadron, serving under Gen. John J. Pershing in Mexico. On one of his flying missions in Mexico, Gorrell ran out of gas and was stranded in the desert for several days before being rescued. Upon returning to his unit, he began to criticize the poor equipment US pilots were forced to use, both in terms of actual aircraft components and the signals and communication equipment used on land. In 1917 he was promoted to Captain, and in World War I he became the Chief Engineering Officer for the Air Service, and eventually the Chief of Staff for the Air Service, with the rank of Colonel. After the war, Gorrell remained in Europe representing the US at conferences and peace talks. In March 1920, he resigned his commission in the Army and joined the automobile business. He served as the vice president of Marmon Motor Car Company until 1925. Then he became vice president, director, and general manager, and later president, of the Stutz Motor Car company of America. In January 1936, Gorrell again switched fields when he was elected the first president of the Air Transport Association of America, shortly after its conception. It was with this organization that he was known for his role in promoting safety in civil aeronautics. He was a strong advocate for the Civil Aeronautics Act of 1938 which provided government control and regulation of civil aeronautics, and he provided testimony before congressional committees several times. Gorrell continued to support civil aeronautics, especially through his role as president of the Air Transport Association of America, until his death, in 1945.



Processing Information

Encoded by Tyler Love, 2013; Elizabeth Borja, 2019.


Gorrell, Edgar S. (Edgar Staley), 1891-1945




No donor information, gift, unknown, XXXX-0057


3.95 Cubic feet (9 boxes)


This collection contains documents relating mainly to Gorrell's activities as president of the Air Transportation Association of America. The materials include copies of Gorrell's addresses and Congressional testimony, as well as press clippings concerning Gorrell's activities. The collection also includes albums of World War I vintage photographs collected by or presented to Gorrell.


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Collection descriptions

Archival materials




Arrangement note

Arranged into two series: Series 1: GENERAL. This series contains correspondence, addresses delivered by E.S. Gorrell, and publications and newspaper articles, some written by Gorrell. There are also Congressional hearings and reports, and some miscellaneous material. The documents are arranged in chronological order. Series 2: PHOTOGRAPHS/ALBUMS. This series contains photographs and photo albums. Many of these are aerial photographs of trenches taken c. 1916 --1918, but there are also many photographs of aerial and land transport equipment.

Scope and Contents

The Edgar S. Gorrell Collection is largely comprised of material relating to Gorrell's career as president of the Air Transport Association of America. The material includes his correspondence and speeches, the Congressional hearings and reports for the bills he advocated, and publications and newspaper articles about him and his career. Also in the collection are several photographs and photograph albums from World War I and other miscellaneous material. Note: The digital images in this finding aid were repurposed from scans made by an outside contractor for a commercial product and may show irregular cropping and orientation in addition to color variations resulting from damage to and deterioration of the original objects.






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Air Transport Association of America

United States. Army. American Expeditionary Forces

Gorrell, Edgar S. (Edgar Staley), 1891-1945

Topics Aeronautics
Aeronautics, Commercial -- United States
Aeronautics, Military
World War, 1914-1918


Edgar S. Gorrell Collection, Acc. XXXX-0057, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.

Archival Repository

National Air and Space Museum Archives

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