Guide to the Clara Adams Addition Papers, 1884-1971
H001-07

 Finding aid prepared by Paul A. Oelkrug, CA

Collection Overview

Repository
Special Collections and Archives Division, History of Aviation Collection.
Creator - Collector
Adams, Clara, Mrs., 1884-1971
Title
Clara Adams Addition Papers
ID
H001-07
Date [bulk]
Bulk, 1936-1939
Date [inclusive]
1913-2004
Extent
2.2 Linear feet (One manuscript box, one non-standard box (10.5x12.5x3), and one non-standard box (12x16x3).)
Language of Materials
Collection is in English and German.
Abstract
Clara Adam’s main claim to fame is that she holds many firsts for women in aviation, not as a pilot, but as a paying passenger. Her first flight came in March 1914 at Lake Eustis, Florida where she went up in a Thomas Flying Boat piloted by Walter E. Johnson. This flight sparked an interest in aviation that lasted the rest of her life. Clara was introduced to Lighter-Than-Air transportation through a letter of introduction by General Paul von Hindenburg to Dr. Hugo Eckener. She was given a ride on the ZR III during one of her test flights. During her many years of flying, Clara Adams flew in free balloons, gliders, Zeppelins, and various passenger aircraft. Although not a pilot, Clara helped to contribute to the advancement of commercial aviation.

Citation

Clara Adams Addition Papers, Document name or type, Folder number, Box number, Series number, History of Aviation Collection, Special Collections and Archives Division, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Special Collections and Archives Division, History of Aviation Collection. 6 April 2007

800 West Campbell Road, MC33
Richardson, TX, 75080-3021
972-883-2570
[email protected]

Revision Description

 The first revision was a conversion to HTML Format. 13 November 2015

Access Restrictions

Materials in this collection are open for research.

Literary Rights Statement

Permission to publish material from this collection in any form, current or future, must be obtained from the Special Collections and Archives Division, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas.

Provenance Statement

The Clara Adams Addition Papers were purchase from Charles Apfelbaum, Rare Manuscripts and Archives by the History of Aviation Collection, Special Collections and Archives Division, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas, on December 8, 2006.

Note to the Researcher

This collection is a separate collection from the existing Clara Adams Collection located in the History of Aviation Collection. If using both collections, please be sure to cite the respective collections accordingly.

The metal fasteners were removed and replaced by coated paper clips.

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Controlled Access Headings

Personal Name(s)

  • Adams, Clara, Mrs., 1884-1971

Subject(s)

  • History of Aviation Collection

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Biographical Sketch

Clara Adams was born on December 3, 1884 in Cincinnati Ohio. Her parents were Walter and Ida Grabau and her paternal grandmother was Augusta von Hindenburg, a distant relative of German President, Paul von Hindenburg. Her mother, Ida, lived next door to Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin in Baden-Baden, Germany.

Clara received training at the Conservatory of Music in Leipzig, Germany, where her father was a professor of music. While studying there, Clara became an accomplished piano player. She also learned to speak several languages and had some artistic talent as well.

Clara married George Lincoln Adams of Boston, Massachusetts, a man forty years her senior. They built a home in Tannersville, Pennsylvania where her husband owned and operated a chain of tanneries in that state. Partly because of the age difference, their marriage was a short one. George passed away in 1929 making Clara a wealthy widow.

Clara Adam’s main claim to fame is that she holds many firsts for women in aviation, not as a pilot, but as a paying passenger. Her first flight came in March 1914 at Lake Eustis, Florida where she went up in a Thomas Flying Boat piloted by Walter E. Johnson. This flight sparked an interest in aviation that lasted the rest of her life.

Clara was introduced to Lighter-Than-Air transportation through a letter of introduction by General Paul von Hindenburg to Dr. Hugo Eckener. She was given a ride on the ZR III during one of her test flights. The Zeppelin Company built the ZR-III for the United States Navy as war reparations for WWI. When the ZR-III was delivered to the Navy, the ship was christened the USS Los Angeles.

One of Clara’s most memorable journeys took place in 1928 when the Graf Zeppelin made its first trip from Europe to the United States and back. Clara was the first woman to buy a ticket to fly across the Atlantic, paying the price of $3,000.00. She was the only woman on the trip with the flight lasting seventy-one hours.

In 1931 she again became the first woman to purchase a ticket to fly on, what was then the largest aircraft ever built, the Dornier DO-X flying boat. The DO-X had left Germany for a multi-continent trip. Clara joined the DO-X’s journey in Rio de Jenario where the DO-X was to continue on to New York.

Clara was among the passengers that made the maiden flight of the Hindenburg in 1936, a sixty-one hour flight from Germany to Lakehurst, New Jersey. In the same year she made the maiden voyage on board of the  Hindenburg, Clara made another historic flight, the inaugural flight of Pan American’s  China Clipper; flying from California across the Pacific. All together in 1936 Clara flew 27,000 miles.

During her many years of flying, Clara Adams flew in free balloons, gliders, Zeppelins, and various passenger aircraft. Along the way she met many famous flyers such as Amelia Earhart, Hugo Eckener, Edwin Musik, and the Stinson sisters to name a few. Her hobby was being a “historic first flighter,” as she is sometimes called. She was never associated with any commercial concern or publications and was always a private passenger.

According to her passport, Clara Adams listed her occupation as “lecturer and writer,” no doubt a vocation that grew from her many flying firsts. On her travels, she always kept the collector in mind. She purchased and signed many first day covers, programs, schedules, menus, and other airline memorabilia.

Her flying came to an abrupt halt with the outbreak of WWII and although she may have continued flying, she made no more inaugural flights. It would not be until 1966 when she again made news. She flew with five of the original passengers and officers to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the first passenger flight across the Pacific.

Clara Adams died 10 February 1971 with her passing relatively unnoticed. However, she did plan her last plane ride. She had her body cremated and her ashes scattered over the ocean from an airplane.

Although not a pilot, Clara helped to contribute to the advancement of commercial aviation. Today, flying is taken for granted, but at a time when commercial aviation was in its infancy, she and other brave souls like her who believed in the future of mass passenger service braved the dangers and flew over great distances in aircraft whose airworthiness was questionable.

Source
 Clara Adams Collection, Finding Aid, History of Aviation Collection, Special Collections and Archives Division , Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas.
Source
 Provan, Jon. Clara Adams. Kelkheim, West Germany, New York: Luftschiff-Zeppelin Collection, Jon Provan, 1985.

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Scope and Content

This collection contains baggage tags, route maps, schedules, menus, and a patch from the Graf Zeppelin’s envelope. Photographs include images of some famous aviators, some signed; post cards, some signed by Clara Adams; aircraft such as the Dornier DO-X, the China Clipper, and other aircraft. There is also an album that contains photographs and clippings.

The collection was purchased and arrived in good condition. The processing archivist imposed order and identified five series with the first series being the Documents Series containing background information on the Graf Zeppelin,  Hindenburg, LZ-130, women firsts, and August Post.

The personal history of Clara Adams is reflected through History of aviation “firsts” by Clara Adams and her passport with the last entry showing her arrival at Lakehurst, New Jersey on the Hindenburg; the personal correspondence contains a letter from August Post to Adams; the diaries include photographs and artwork and give a day-to-day account of Adams' travel.

The second series is the Clippings Series featuring articles from the New York Herald, Monday, November 10, 1919, describing Clara Adams’ surprise greeting to her returning husband, a German language newspaper clipping about the  Hindenburg disaster, and a clipping about the record world passenger flight in 1929 featuring Clara Adams.

The third series is the Ephemera Series, which comprises baggage tags, schedules, brochures, menu cards, and route maps that were collected by Adams.

The fourth series is the Artifact Series showcasing a patch from the envelope of the Graf Zeppelin, a piece of stationary bearing the signature of Hugo Eckener, two sketches by Clara Adams, and a Zeppelin scarf.

The fifth series is the Images Series depicting aircraft that Adams flew in, her portraits, people, beached ship, a sailing yacht in dry dock, a large oval table set for dinner with a model of an airport in the center, and postcards. The album depicts the Panama Canal, "Doc" Allen, Thea Rascha and Eleanor Smith as well as Havana, Cuba.

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Series Description

The Clara Adams Addition Papers are arranged in five series:

Series I. Documents 0.2 linear ft. (five folders), 1913-1933.

Arranged by topic.

Series II. Newspaper Clippings 0.1 linear ft. (one folder), 1919-1929.

Arranged chronologically by date.

Series III. Ephemera 0.1 linear ft. (nine folders), 1934-1939.

Arranged by topic.

Series IV. Artifacts 0.1 linear ft. (one folder), undated.

Arranged by topic.

Series V. Images 1.8 linear ft. (two non-standard boxes), 1917-1928.

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Related Materials

Additional Sources

For related materials view within the History of Aviation Collection, Special Collections and Archives Division, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas the following collections: Erik Hildes-Heim Collection,  Vice Admiral Charles E. Rosendahl Collection,  Douglas Robinson Collection,  Edwin C. Musick Collection, and  Stella Randolph Collection on Gustave Whitehead.

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Image ID

It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission from copyright holders of materials to which this institution does not own copyright.

Images in this collection are identified by a unique number that provides information about the format, record group, collection, box, folder, and image numbers. Please use this number when ordering reproductions of images from this collection.

Record Group Code

1 = CAT/Air American Archives

2 = Doolittle Archives

3 = Lighter than Air Archives

4 = George H. Williams, Jr., World War I Aviation Library

5 = History of Aviation Archives

6 = University Archives

7 = HAC Stacks

8 = WPRL Stacks

9 = Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Collection

10 = Belsterling Collection

11 = Closed Stacks

12 = Unidentified

13 = Chance Vought Archives

14 = Twirly Birds Archives

Image Format Code

P = Photograph/Postcard

S = Slide

N = Negative

T = Positive Transparency

B = Black and White

C = Color

Example : 5CA-5-3-4PB1

5 = History of Aviation Archives (HAC)

CA = Clara Adams Addition Papers

5 = Series V

3 = Box Number

4 = Folder Number

P = Photograph/Postcard

B = Black and White

1 = Image Number

Images archived in plastic image holders may also have a location code in the format: 1/TL. In this example, the number is the sheet number and the letters indicate the top left position on the sheet. Position indicators are T = top, L = left, R = right, M = middle, and B = bottom. Position indicators may be combined to describe the position on the sheet, as shown in this example.

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Collection Inventory

Series I. Documents 

Background Information. 2004 December 12   Online excerpts.


    Box Folder
Text   1 1

Personal History. 1935-1936   Narrative and passport.


    Box Folder
Text   1 2

Correspondence. 1933 January 26 


    Box Folder
Text   1 3

Diaries. 1913-1915 


    Box Folder
Text   1 4

Diaries. 1917-1919 


    Box Folder
Text   1 5

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Series II. Clippings 

Newspaper Clippings. 1919-1929   "New York Herald."


    Box Folder
Text   1 6

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Series III. Ephemera 

Baggage Tags. Undated   Three identical baggage tags from the Luftschiffbau Zeppelin-Hamburg- Amerika Linie. Tags have a blue background with white lettering and trimmed in yellow.


    Box Folder
Ephemera   1 7

Schedules. Undated   Six schedules from the Luftschiffbau Zeppelin-Hamburg-Amerika Linie showing flights by the "Graf Zeppelin" to South America dated 1934. All schedules are signed by Clara Adams.


    Box Folder
Ephemera   1 8

Brochure. Undated   Brochure signed by Clara Adams by the Luftschiffbau Zeppelin-Hamburg-Amerika Linie depicting interior scenes of the "Graf Zeppelin."


    Box Folder
Ephemera   1 9

Schedule. 1936   Schedule published by the Deutsche Zeppelin-Reederei showing flights from Europe to North and South America with the "Graf Zeppelin" flying the South American routes and the "Hindenburg" flying the North American routes.


    Box Folder
Ephemera   1 10

Schedule. 1936 August   Schedule published by the Deutsche Zeppelin-Reederei in English showing North Atlantic Service by the airship "Hindenburg." Signed “Clara Adams cabin 19.”


    Box Folder
Ephemera   1 11

Baggage Tags. Undated   Three baggage tags from Deutsche Lufthansa, Deutsche Zeppelin-Reederei, and Imperial Airways.


    Box Folder
Ephemera   1 12

Time Tables and Passenger Fares. 1939 August   Two Pan American Airways System and Associated Carriers time tables and passenger fare brochures. Both show route maps to Europe and South America.


    Box Folder
Ephemera   1 13

Menu. 1939-1940   Luncheon menu with “Trip No. 309” and “Captain Nixon” typed across the top and PAA Airways Inn on Canton Island and is a breakfast menu.


    Box Folder
Ephemera   1 14

Route Map and Schedule. 1939 June 16   Pan American Airways System route map of the Flying Clipper Ships and connection airline schedule prepared for Clara Adams.


    Box Folder
Ephemera   1 15

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Series IV. Artifacts 

Artifacts. Undated   Patch from the envelope of the "Graf Zeppelin," stationary bearing the signature of Hugo Eckener, two sketches by Clara Adams, and a Zeppelin scarf.


    Box Folder
Realia   1 16

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Series V. Images 

Aircraft. Undated   Image number 5CA-5-2-1-PB1 through 5CA-5-2-1-PB34.


    Box Folder
Graphic materials   2 1

Image Description

Aircraft include photographs of the Dornier DO-X seaplane, Avion Potez IX single engine passenger plane, Thomas Flying Boat, Boeing 314 Clipper, Sikorski Flying Boat, Short Brothers seaplane, Douglas DC-4 with triple tail, and the LZ-127 Hindenburg.

Aircraft (8x10). Undated   Image number 5CA-5-2-2-PB1 through 5CA-5-2-2-PB17.


    Box Folder
Graphic materials   2 2

Image Description

Aircraft include the Granville Brothers G.E.D.; Short Brothers Cavalier; images of the Boeing 314 Yankee Clipper including interior views of the cockpit, wing interior, flight engineer’s station, and radio operator’s station; and image of a Union Pacific passenger train.

Clara Adams (8x10). Undated   Image number 5CA-5-2-3-PB1 through 5CA-5-2-3-PB19.


    Box Folder
Graphic materials   2 3

Image Description

Clara Adams in various poses and scenes.

People. Undated   Image number 5CA-5-2-4-PB1 through 5CA-5-2-4-PB118.


    Box Folder
Graphic materials   2 4

Image Description

Portrait of Lady Drummond-Hay; photographs of Clara Adams with various personalities including the Stinson sisters, Amelia Earhart, Hugo Eckener, Lady Grace Drummond-Hay; Howard Hughes, Charles A. Lindberg, and others. Several images of Clara Adams are signed.

Miscellaneous. Undated   Image number 5CA-5-2-5-PB1 through 5CA-5-2-5-PB6.


    Box Folder
Graphic materials   2 5

Image Description

Images of a beached ship, sailing yacht in dry dock, and a large oval table set for dinner with a model of an airport in the center.

Postcards. Undated   Image number 5CA-5-2-6-PC1 through 5CA-5-2-6PC-94.


    Box Folder
Graphic materials   2 6

Image Description

Multiple postcards of the Dornier DO-X in flight and signed by Clara Adams, the Dornier DO-X taxing in the water, the DO-X at anchor (radial engine version), interior views of the DO-X, United Airlines Boeing passenger aircraft, Pan American Airways China Clipper in color,  Graf Zeppelin and  Hindenburg signed by Hugo Eckener, Tempelhof Airport, postcard to Clara Adams signed by Thea Rasche, and multiple images of Clara Adams in Athens.

Album, Panama Canal. Undated   Image number 5CA-5-3-1-PB1 through 5CA-5-3-1-PB21.


    Box Folder
Graphic materials   3 1

Image Description

Photographs of Clara Adams and others visiting the Panama Canal while under construction.

Album, “Doc” Allen. 1923   Image number 5CA-5-3-2-PB1 through 5CA-5-3-2-PB3.


    Box Folder
Graphic materials   3 2

Image Description

Images of “Doc” Allen in flight gear in Atlantic City.

Album, Thea Rasche and Eleanor Smith (8x10). Undated   Image number 5CA-5-3-3-PB1.


    Box Folder
Graphic materials   3 3

Image Description

Clara Adams, Thea Rasche and Eleanor Smith.

Album, Havana. 1922   Image number 5CA-5-3-4-PB1 through 5CA-5-3-4-PB28.


    Box Folder
Graphic materials   3 4

Image Description

Snapshots taken by Clara Adams during flights over Cuba.

Album, Luft-Hansa. 1928 November 16   Image number 5CA-5-3-5-PB1 through 5CA-5-3-5-PB7.


    Box Folder
Graphic materials   3 5

Image Description

Clara Adams guest of German airline Luft-Hansa at Tempelhof, Berlin. Flight was in a Dornier Merkur.

Album, Opal Kunz. Undated   Image number 5CA-5-3-6-PB1 through 5CA-5-3-6-PB4.


    Box Folder
Graphic materials   3 6

Image Description

Fitzmaurice Field Dedication contains clippings and photographs with many personalities identified and flight in Opal Kunz’s “Betsey Ross” Travelair plane at Newark Airport.

Album, Captain William Sullivan. 1919 November 9   Image number 5CA-5-3-7-PB1 through 5CA-5-3-7-PB11.


    Box Folder
Graphic materials   3 7

Image Description

Captain William Sullivan, Clara Adams, and Wesley Scharp.

Album, Margaret Stinson. 1917 February 12   Image number 5CA-5-3-8-PB1 through 5CA-5-3-8-PB4.


    Box Folder
Graphic materials   3 8

Image Description

Clara Adams in San Antonio, Texas 12 February 1917 for a flight in a Wright Flyer with Margaret Stinson as the pilot.

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