On July 14, 1918, Quentin Roosevelt, son of President Theodore Roosevelt, died outside of Chamery, France, his Nieuport 28 shot down by a German pilot. To American aviators and soldiers, the grave of Quentin Roosevelt became a shrine, his death a touchstone for service and sacrifice, appearing in many World War I era scrapbooks and collections held by the National Air and Space Museum Archives.
A new National Air and Space Museum Archives collection documents the story of Helen James, a member of the United States Air Force who was arrested and discharged as part of a campaign to remove LGBTQ people from government employment in the 1950s.
Letters home from the front reveal the personal side of wars. On Armistice Day, November 11, 1918, marking the end of World War I, many American soliders serving abroad were instructed to write victory letters to their fathers. As we move towards the celebration of the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, a pair of victory letters from France and Connecticut illustrate a different understanding between home and the front, armistice and peace.
While Bessie Coleman never realized her dream of opening a flight school for African American pilots, her legacy as the first African American woman to earn a pilot’s license has impacted and inspired flight students for decades.
The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum has the world’s premier collection of aviation and space artifacts. Less well-known is that the museum also has an outstanding collection of aerospace models.
When a team accomplishes what, at times, seemed impossible, it becomes a victory for all—an entire city or country, or all humankind. We see this in milestones throughout aviation history, and we celebrate those shared victories throughout our Museum. And when a sports team brings a championship to a city that hasn’t seen one in 25 years, the whole city comes out to celebrate.