Display Status:

This object is not on display at the National Air and Space Museum. It is either on loan or in storage.

Collection Item Summary:

The Paul E. Garber Papers includes material from the personal and professional spheres, and is centered on the following three areas: Garber's personal life; his aviation interests; and his association with the National Air and Space Museum. The following types of materials, dating from 1905 to the present, are included: audio recordings; newspaper clippings; magazine articles; photographic slides; lantern slides; photographs; notes made by Garber on aviation topics; lectures; correspondence; pamphlets; brochures; drawings; diaries; newsletters and scrapbooks.

Collection Item Long Description:


  • Aeronautics
  • Models and modelmaking
  • Museums--Curatorship

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum Archives

Restrictions & Rights

No restrictions on access


Garber, Paul Edward 1899-1992


National Air and Space Museum (U.S.)

Physical description

320 cubic feet ( )

See more items in


  • 1905
  • 1905-1991


Paul Edward Garber (1899-1992) was instrumental in collecting more than half of the 352 Smithsonian-owned aircraft. He fell under the spell of both aviation and the Smithsonian while growing up in Washington, DC. As a 10-year-old, he took a streetcar across the Potomac River to watch Orville Wright fly the world's first military airplane at Fort Myer, Virginia. Alexander Graham Bell, a Smithsonian regent, taught young Paul how to bridle his kite. At the age of 15, Garber built a full-scale biplane glider based on a model he had seen at the Smithsonian. His mother helped him cover the wings with red chintz, after which a group of friends towed him into the air with a clothesline. Garber joined the Army in 1918, and was about to begin flight training at College Park, Maryland, when the war ended. He took a job as a ground crewman and messenger with the Postal Airmail Service. In 1920, he began working at the Smithsonian Institution, building models and preparing exhibitions. For the next 72 years he dedicated himself to the preservation of the nation's aeronautical heritage and to sharing his boundless enthusiasm for flight with Smithsonian visitors. He played a key role in the creation of the National Air Museum in 1946, and was indispensable in the effort to construct the present National Air and Space Museum building, which opened in 1976.

Cite as

Paul E. Garber Papers, Accession 1991-0063, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution

Repository Loc.

National Air and Space Museum, Archives Division, MRC 322, Washington, DC, 20560


  • Audiotapes
  • Collection descriptions
  • Photographs
  • Scrapbooks
  • Slides (photographs)
  • Lectures
  • Correspondence
  • Diaries
  • Printed material

Local number