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Tag: walt disney

A WASP’s Story

Today’s post comes from Ashley Mattingly, an archivist at the National Archives in St. Louis.

The year was 1943, and Elizabeth “Betty” Maxine Chambers was a young mother and a widow. Betty’s husband, Army pilot Lt. Robert William Chambers, had died in 1942 when his P-38F Lightening aircraft crashed at Mills Field in San Mateo, California. Undaunted, Betty applied to be among the first female pilots in the newly formed Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) program.

Elizabeth Chambers's WASP portrait from her official personnel folders (OPF).

Elizabeth ​”Betty” Maxine Chambers, WASP Class of 44-W-3. Photograph from her official personnel folders (OPF), held at the National Archives in St. Louis.

A native of Hollywood, California, Betty worked for the Walt Disney Company inking cartoon celluloid cells and for Universal Studios inking cells for “picture process work.” After the death of her husband, Betty and her baby moved in with her parents; she also acquired a more stable job as a telephone operator at Southern California Telephone Company.

Betty wanted more. Like more than 1,000 other women, she took to the skies to find it.

Betty and her comrades applied to an innovative civilian program designed to employ women to ferry wartime aircraft, serve as flight instructors, tow targets for live antiaircraft practice, transport cargo, and fly experimental aircraft. These female pilots relieved men from domestic duties so they could fight overseas in the war.

The WASP program … [ Read all ]

Archives Spotlight: The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum is located in Simi Valley, California—about 40 miles northwest of Los Angeles—and holds over 60 million pages of documents, 1.6 million photographs, hundreds of thousands of feet of audiovisual material, and 40,000 artifacts.

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, California (Reagan Library)

In the Air Force One Pavilion, you can tour Air Force One (tail number 27000). This airplane carried Presidents Nixon, Carter, Ford, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush all over the world and the United States. This “Flying White House” was integral to Reagan’s presidency: he wrote many speeches, signed legislation, and relaxed while traveling in Air Force One.

Reagan putts a golf ball on Air Force One, November 16, 1985 (ARC 198571)

You can also visit an exhibit on Presidential motorcades. Vehicles include one of Reagan’s presidential limousines, Secret Service suburbans, and a Marine One helicopter that flew President Johnson.

Air Force One Pavilion (Reagan Library)

The Museum also features a reconstructed Oval Office, showing how President Reagan decorated using warm, earthy colors. He even displayed a collection of bronzed saddles.

The Oval Office in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum (Reagan Library)

One of President Reagan’s greatest goals while in office was to end the Cold War. He held many diplomatic talks with Mikhail Gorbachev. … [ Read all ]

War Comes to America

Sixty-nine years ago today, the Congress of the United States declared war following the delivery of a speech by Franklin Delano Roosevelt that included these words:  “Yesterday … a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked … With confidence in our armed forces–with the unbounding determination of our people–we will gain the inevitable triumph–so help us God.”

When the House cast the vote to declare war on the Japanese Empire, only one voice rose in dissent, that of House Representative Jeanette Rankin, the first woman to serve in Congress who represented the state of Montana before women could even vote (read our POH post, “Women can’t vote, but they can run for Congress“). As the lone voice in the 388-1 vote, Rankin only said “as a woman I can’t go to war, and I refuse to send anyone else.”

While Rankin may not have been eligible to go to war, men were, and many needed convincing. It was imperative that the nation knew what caused the conflict and why America had entered it. Part of the solution to this was the “Why We Fight” series, an acclaimed look at who America was and why it was at war against the Axis powers.

The series was a who’s who of Hollywood. Frank Capra, who … [ Read all ]