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Manuscripts by Subject - Transportation - #10052

Title:   Carl Ben Eielson Papers

Dates:  1919-1930

Collection Number: 10052

Quantity: 2 feet 

Abstract: Scholarship application, examination papers, airline records, posthumous memorials, postal covers, documents, correspondence, awards and published materials. The scholarship application dates from 1919 to 1920 and consists of recommendation letters and forms for a Rhodes scholarship. The examination papers consist of two short papers submitted for entrance to an officer's training program. The airline records include schedules, agreements, reports, and correspondence from the Farthest-North Airplane Company and the Alaskan Air Transport Corporation. The posthumous memorials were written by friends and acquaintances relating Eielson's exploits. The postal covers consist of airmail covers from first flights in Alaska. The documents date from 1926 to 1929 and consist of pilot's licenses, a passport, and membership card. The correspondence dates from 1925 to 1930, and consists of personal letters from Eielson to Joe Snowfield, recommendation letters from military personnel, Arctic exploration congratulatory letters and telegrams, and letters to Ole Eielson concerning his son, Carl Ben. The awards date from 1928 to 1929 and consist of menus, speeches, and invitations to banquets honoring the arctic flight with Wilkins. The published materials consist of a booklet, periodicals, published federal documents, and newspapers. He had been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Harmon Trophy.

Provenance:  The State Historical Society of North Dakota acquired the Carl Ben Eielson Papers as a gift from Mrs. Elmer Osking, 1944; Beatrice Johnstone, 1932; Warren Clark, 1964; and Eric Sletten, 1976. Juliann Henriksen prepared the inventory to the Carl Ben Eielson Papers in December 1983.

Property rights: The State Historical Society of North Dakota owns the property rights to the collection.

Copyrights:  Copyrights of the Carl Ben Eielson Papers have been dedicated to the public. Consideration of all other copyrights is the responsibility of the author and publisher.

Access: This collection is open under the rules and regulations of the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

Citation: Researchers are requested to cite the collection title, collection number, and the State Historical Society of North Dakota in all footnote and bibliographic references.

Transfer: Two hundred ninety photographs were transferred to the Photo Archives on December 20, 1983.

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

Carl Benjamin Eielson was born on July 20, 1897 in Hatton, North Dakota. He attended the University of North Dakota from 1914 to 1916 and transferred to the University of Wisconsin to study law. He enlisted in the air service of the United States Army in January 1917, was made a second lieutenant, and mustered out in March 1919. Eielson was employed by the Farmer's Mercantile Company in Hatton, North Dakota from April 1919 to May 1920 and organized the Aero Club of Hatton, a stunt and passenger flying company, in the spring of 1920. After an airplane crash in Climax, Minnesota, Eielson decided to return to school and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in the spring of 1921 from the University of North Dakota.

In the fall of 1922 Eielson moved to Fairbanks, Alaska to work in the school system. He organized the Farthest North Aviation Club which carried passengers and medical supplies, and featured exhibition flying. Eielson contracted with the government to carry mail from Fairbanks to McGrath on an experimental basis He fulfilled the required ten trips but failed to receive another contract. Eielson re-enlisted in the United States Army and served as inspector of airplanes at Langley Field, Virginia.

Eielson was recommended to fly with George Wilkins on a flight from Alaska to Spitzbergen. The trip was planned for February 1926 but due to several mishaps the trip was cancelled. A second expedition was planned for February 1927. Several short flights over the Arctic were followed by a forced landing on an ice floe. Eielson and Wilkins walked eighteen days to reach Beechy Point where they were met and transported to Point Barrow. A third expedition was planned for April 1928. Eielson and Wilkins left Point Barrow, April 15, 1928 and landed at Green Harbor, Spitzbergen on April 21, 1928. They received worldwide recognition on their successful flight.

Eielson and Wilkins explored the Antarctic in November and December 1928. Their efforts resulted in the entire Antarctic area being remapped. Eielson, on his return, was summoned to Washington and presented with the Distinguished Flying Cross. On April 8, 1929, Eielson received the Harmon Trophy from President Hoover.

Eielson decided to return to Alaska in August 1929. He successfully merged several independent air companies into Alaskan Airways, Inc. and served as vice president and general manager of the new company. In November 1929, Eielson responded to a ship distress signal. He made one successful trip, rescuing six passengers and a cargo of furs. His second attempt ended in a crash with no survivors. Search parties from the United States, Canada, and Russia located the aircraft wreckage in January 1930. Carl Ben Eielson was buried in Hatton, North Dakota on March 26, 1930.

Source:
Ben by H.G. Wambheim, 1930.

SCOPE AND CONTENT

The Carl Ben Eielson Papers date from 1919 to 1930 and occupy two cubic foot and two oversize folders. The papers consist of personal memorabilia and published materials.

The personal memorabilia dates from 1919 to 1930 and consists of a scholarship application, examination papers, airline records, posthumous memorials, postal covers, documents, correspondence and awards. The scholarship application dates from 1919 to 1920 and consists of recommendation letters and forms for a Rhodes scholarship. The examination papers consist of two short papers submitted for entrance to an officers’ training program. The airline records, 1924 to 1926, include schedules, agreements, reports, and correspondence from the Farthest North Airplane Company and the Alaskan Air Transport Corporation. The posthumous memorials were written by friends and acquaintances relating Eielson's exploits. The postal covers consist of airmail covers from first flights in Alaska.

The documents date from 1926 to 1929 and consist of pilot's licenses, a passport, and a membership card. The correspondence dates from 1925 to 1930 and consists of personal letters from Eielson to Joe Snowfield, recommendation letters from military personnel, arctic exploration congratulatory letters and telegrams, and letters to Ole Eielson concerning his son, Carl Ben. The awards date from 1928 to 1929 and consist of menus, speeches, and invitations to banquets honoring the arctic flight with Wilkins.

The published materials consist of a booklet, periodicals, published federal documents, and newspapers. The booklet relates the story of Eielson’s life. The periodicals contain articles written about Eielson's exploits over the arctic. The federal documents contain speeches memorializing Eielson1s accomplishments in Congress. The English and Norwegian language newspapers contain articles about Eielson.

Series I.           Personal Memorabilia, 1919 to 1930

Consists of scholarship application, examination papers, airline records, posthumous memorials, postal covers, documents, and awards.

Series II.          Published Materials, 1924 to 1930

Consists of a booklet, periodicals, federal documents, and newspapers.

BOX / FOLDER INVENTORY

Series I.           Personal Memorabilia

Box 1:
1 Rhodes Scholarship Application, 1919-1920
2 Officer Training Examination, n.d.
3 Aero Club of Hatton, n.d.
4 Farthest-North Airplane Company Records, 1923-1924
5 Military Letters, 1925
6 Flight Book, 1924-1927
7 Army Officer Commissions, 1925, 1929
8 Infantry Drill Regulations Book
9 Alaskan Air Transport Corporation Records, 1926
10 Arctic Exploration - Correspondence, 1926-1928
11 Arctic Exploration - Honors and Awards, 1928-1929
12 Arctic Exploration - Miscellaneous, 1926-1928
13 Posthumous Memorials, 1930
14 Ole Eielson - Correspondence, 1928-1930
15 Joe Snowfield - Correspondence, 1925-1926
16 Documents, 1926-1929
17 Postal Covers, 1926, 42 items

Box 2:
1 Postal Covers, 1926, 32 items
2 Miscellaneous

Series II.          Published Materials

3 Ben 1930
4  The Literary Digest, May 5, 1928
5  A Half Century of Progress
6 Normands Forbundet, May 1929
7 Federal Documents
8 Scrapbook
9 Newspaper Clippings, 1924
10 Newspaper Clippings, 1924
11 Newspaper Clippings, Norwegian
  
Oversize
1 Documents
2 Newspapers

 

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