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Hans Groenhoff (1906-1985) was born and educated in Germany, but emigrated to the United States in 1927. Residing in New York City, Groenhoff pursued his interest in aviation and photography. Following in the footsteps of his brother Günther, a famous aviator and pioneer glider pilot in Germany, Hans Groenhoff became an active glider pilot in the nearby Elmira, New York, area, nurturing a lifelong fascination with clouds and aerial photography. Groenhoff's photography career took off when he inherited two cameras following the death of his brother in a glider accident in 1932; he went on to work as a photographer, journalist, editor, and correspondent, with his photographs and articles published in mainstream magazines such as Life, Colliers, Esquire, National Geographic, and The Saturday Evening Post, as well as aviation publications such as Air Trails Pictorial, Sportsman Pilot, Aero Digest, and especially Flying and Popular Aviation, for whom he was a regular correspondent. Groenhoff also shot advertising and publicity photography for aircraft manufacturers and the U.S. Army Air Forces. Following the death of his first wife, Fridel Barth, in 1954, Groenhoff moved to the Miami, Florida, area to take advantage of better weather for photographing aircraft. In 1956, Groenhoff married Frances Semman, who assisted him in his work. In his retirement years, Groenhoff was employed by the Bahamas Government to promote the Islands as a tourist destination for private and sport aviation, founding their popular "Bahamas Flying Treasure Hunt" events which ran annually for several years. 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).



Processing Information

Initial arrangement and description by Kristine L. Kaske-Martin, 2005. Encoded by Rihoko Ueno, January 2012. Revised arrangement and description by Melissa A. N. Keiser, 2019.


Groenhoff, Hans




Hans Groenhoff, Purchase, 1962, 1984, NASM.XXXX.0359, NASM


5.27 Cubic feet (41 boxes)


Hans Groenhoff (1906-1985) was a celebrated American aviation photographer from the 1930s through the 1960s, also working as a pilot, journalist, editor, correspondent, and—in his retirement years—as an aviation tourism publicist for the Bahamas. This collection of 25,550 images consists of Groenhoff's collection of negatives and transparencies, spanning his career from 1933 to 1975.


Physical access to film originals (negatives, transparencies, and slides) requires notice a minimum of two business days in advance of visit to allow for retrieval of materials from cold storage.


Collection descriptions

Archival materials


Aerial photographs

Arrangement note

Series 1: 1962 Acquisition, approximately 24,250 images; photography made by Groenhoff in the period 1933 to 1962, consists of mixed medium format black-and-white negative single-sheet or cut-frame roll film (Subseries 1, HGA), 35mm black-and-white roll film (Subseries 2, HGD), and mixed medium format color transparency (positive) film (Subseries 3, HGC), as well as black-and-white print enlargements made by the Smithsonian of selected images. Also included in this series are a small number of posed portraits of Groenhoff at work. Series 2: 1984 Acquisition (HGB), approximately 1,300 images; photography made by Groenhoff in the 1960s and 1970s, primarily during his employment with the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, consists of mixed format black-and-white and color roll film and a small number of 35mm color slides. Series 3: "Focus On Flight" Exhibit and Book Materials. This small series consists of mixed materials (copy photography and documents) used in the creation of the NASM exhibit, Focus on Flight: Four Decades of Aerial Photography (Rudy Arnold and Hans Groenhoff) (November 1984 through September 1985), and the related book by curator E. T. (Tim) Wooldridge, Focus on Flight: The Aviation Photography of Hans Groenhoff, published for the National Air and Space Museum by Smithsonian Institution Press (Washington, D.C.), 1985.

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of Groenhoff's collection of negatives and transparencies, spanning his career from 1933 to 1975, and includes images of military and civilian aircraft and events, glider and sailplane activities, air shows and races, airlines and airports, weather (clouds) and aerial images.



Aerial Photographs


Material is subject to Smithsonian Terms of Use. Should you wish to use NASM material in any medium, please submit an Application for Permission to Reproduce NASM Material, available at Permissions Requests.


Groenhoff, Hans

Topics Aeronautics, Commercial -- United States
Aerial photography
Aeronautics, Military
Aeronautics -- Competitions
Air pilots
Women air pilots
World War, 1939-1945


Hans Groenhoff Photographic Collection, Acc. XXXX.0359, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.

Archival Repository

National Air and Space Museum Archives