Guide to the Frank Rabbitt Collection on Enola Gay
H011-03

 Finding aid prepared by Renee Bell.

Collection Overview

Repository
Special Collections Department, History of Aviation Collection
Creator - Creator
Rabbitt, Frank K., Mr.
Title
Frank Rabbitt Collection on Enola Gay
ID
H011-03
Date [bulk]
Bulk, 1994-1996
Date [inclusive]
1988-2001
Extent
3.1 Linear feet (Five manuscript boxes, one photo print box (5.5 x 7.5 x 12), and one CD storage box, long (5.5 x 6 x 12.5).)
Language of Materials
Collection is in English.
Abstract
For the 50th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum (NASM) created an exhibit about the historic first use of atomic weaponry in war. Part of the exhibit was the display of the Enola Gay, the plane flown by then-Colonel Paul Tibbets during the Hiroshima mission. The exhibit drew criticism for its perceived censure of the bombings, a perceived disrespect for the  Enola Gay itself, and alleged involvement of the Japanese government in selecting content for display. One vocal opponent was Frank K. Rabbitt, whose two-year letter-writing campaign against the exhibit enlisted the aid of Tibbets, a number of U.S. elected officials, several journalists, and many members of the public. During the controversy, Dr. Martin Harwit resigned his position as NASM director, and the exhibit was altered to display only the  Enola Gay, a video of the pilots, and a small amount of explanatory text.

Citation

Name of Collection, Document name or type, Folder number, Box number, Series number, History of Aviation Collection, Special Collections Department, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Special Collections Department, History of Aviation Collection

800 West Campbell Road, MC33
Richardson, TX, 75080-3021
972-883-2570
LIBSPCO@utdallas.edu.

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 Department, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas.

Provenance Statement

The Frank Rabbitt Collection on Enola Gay was donated to the History of Aviation Collection, Special Collections Department, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas, by Frank K. Rabbitt in multiple ascessions on February 4 and February 11, 2003.

Note to the Researcher

Paper clips and staples were removed and replaced with coated paper clips, newspaper clippings were separated with archival paper or photocopied onto archival paper where appropriate. Photographs were placed in archival sleeves.

Material Removed List

0.1 linear ft. of duplicate materials were removed. Some original newspaper clippings were photocopied onto acid-free paper and then removed.

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Controlled Access Headings

Personal Name(s)

  • Rabbitt, Frank K., Mr.

Subject(s)

  • History of Aviation Collection

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Biographical Sketch

Frank K. Rabbitt worked for American Airlines in various capacities – including ticketing liaison to the White House Travel office - for nearly 30 years before retiring. After retirement, Rabbitt served as a volunteer docent at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum (NASM). It was while working in this capacity that he learned of the proposed NASM exhibit commemorating the Enola Gay and the 50th anniversary of the first use of atomic weapons. His campaign to have the museum cancel or change the exhibit lasted for several years and cost him his docent position; he was given a 3-month suspension on March 14, 1994, after which he was asked to leave permanently. His efforts were ultimately successful, however, and the exhibit went forward in a reduced format.

Frank Rabbitt was married to Winifred Rabbitt (née Williams). He passed away in Virginia on August 30, 2003.

Source
 "Frank K. Rabbitt, Death Notice," accessed October 29, 2013, The Washington Post, http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/washingtonpost/obituary.aspx?n=frank-k-rabbitt&pid=1364459
Source
 The Frank Rabbitt Collection on Enola Gay, memo, Martin Harwit, “At your request[…]” Folder 1, Box 3, Series II., History of Aviation Collection, Special Collections Department, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas.
Source
 The Frank Rabbitt Collection on Enola Gay, personal note, Frank Rabbitt, "American Airlines.” Folder 1, Box 3, Series II., History of Aviation Collection, Special Collections Department, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas.
Source
 The Frank Rabbitt Collection on Enola Gay, letter, Frank Rabbitt, "Here it is, after over two years in the making[…],” Folder 3, Box 1, Series I., History of Aviation Collection, Special Collections Department, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas.
Source
 "In Memory of Winifred Williams Rabbit," accessed November 4, 2013, DignityMemorial.com http://obits.dignitymemorial.com/dignity-memorial/obituary.aspx?n=Winifred-Rabbitt&lc=4855&pid=159723435&mid=5232282&locale=en_US

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Scope and Content

The collection contains personal notes, correspondence, museum exhibit scripts, reports of Senate hearings, a government committee report, photographs, memorabilia, ephemera, video and audio tapes, newspaper and magazine articles, minutes, transcripts, and other materials that were created and/or collected by Frank Rabbitt to document his campaign against the 50th anniversary Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (NASM) exhibit on the Enola Gay and the atomic bombings of World War II.

The Frank Rabbitt Collection on Enola Gay arrived in two accessions and is in good condition. The bulk of the collection was organized by Rabbitt into fifteen manila envelopes, excluding three exhibit scripts, three video cassettes, and a baseball cap. From these, six series were identified. The collection is housed in five manuscript boxes and two nonstandard boxes, totaling 3.1 linear feet.

The first series, "Personal Papers," contains personal travel notes; a cartoon entitled "The Ten Commandments of Helicopter Flying;" personal notes criticizing a previous Smithsonian exhibit; personal notes about the donation of the collection to the History of Aviation Collection, Special Collections Department, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas; and personal notes on his contacts developed during the campaign.

The second series, "Smithsonian Records," contains copies of the NASM’s exhibit The Last Act, selected minutes from NASM staff meetings regarding the exhibit and Rabbitt, and a personal record of Frank Rabbitt’s relationship with the Smithsonian. This series is subdivided into three subseries.

The first subseries includes three copies of the Smithsonian’s Enola Gay exhibit script from three different dates. Scripts include copies of displayed photographs and accompanying text. Select portions of the scripts include annotations.

The second subseries includes minutes of NASM staff meetings, other NASM internal communication, correspondence distributing same to acquaintances of Frank Rabbitt, and correspondence between acquaintances of Rabbitt and Dr. Martin Harwitt (NASM director). Select portions of the NASM minutes are annotated by Rabbitt. Correspondence distributing NASM documents suggests an element of risk involved in obtaining them. The third subseries includes personal notes, correspondence, photographs, and newspaper and magazine articles about the Enola Gay exhibit controversy. Several newspaper articles mention or quote Rabbitt. Notable inclusions are photographs of Rabbitt and his acquaintances at various social functions, and a letter of commendation to Rabbitt following a tour of the NASM given to an officer of the Thai Air Force.

The third series, "Correspondence," primarily contains Frank Rabbitt’s personal correspondence with a variety of people and organizations. It is subdivided into seven subseries.

The first subseries contains correspondence with and between members of the United States Congress, and other notable figures. Notable correspondents include Congressmen Peter Blute (MA), Thomas S. Foley (WA), Sam Johnson (TX), and Tom Lewis (FL); Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX); NASM Secretary I.M. Johnson and Smithsonian Institute Secretary Robert McAdams; and actor Charlton Heston.

The second subseries contains letters from the public to Rabbitt in response to several newspaper articles in which he was quoted. Copies of the articles are also included. Letters resulting from a Biloxi Sun Herald article by Brig. Gen. Paul Tibbets were separated out by Rabbitt.

The third subseries contains newspaper articles and correspondence with several journalists who wrote about the exhibit controversy. Of interest is a letter to Eugene Meyer of the Washington Post annotated “This started it all.” Correspondence with Jerry Hannifin of the  Washington Post was separated out by Rabbitt.

The fourth subseries contains correspondence with two World War II pilots: Brigadier General Paul Tibbits, who flew the original Hiroshima mission; and Don Rehl, who was slated to pilot the third (ultimately cancelled) atomic bombing mission. Photographs include Rehl and three members of the Hiroshima mission’s flight crew: Tibbets, Theodore Van Kirk, and Thomas Ferebee; Rehl and William Rooney, a correspondent of Rabbitt’s; and Tibbets at a reunion of the 509th Composite roup.

The fifth subseries contains press releases, flyers, photographs, newspaper articles, and correspondence with members of the Smithsonian/NASM staff, including then-director Dr. Martin Harwit and senior curator Dr. Tom Crouch. Included is a copy of a proposal for a USA/Discovery Channel documentary about the atomic bombings and about the NASM exhibit. Also included is a certificate of stock in the Custer Channel Wing Corporation, gifted to Rabbitt by Jim Eaton. Photographs depict Rabbitt at work as a docent.

The sixth subseries contains correspondence with representatives of several American veterans’ organizations, including the American Legion, the Hump Pilots Association, the American Defenders of Bataan & Corregidor, and the Bombardiers, Included is a document by American and Canadian POWs seeking reparations from the Japanese government for alleged inhumane treatment of prisoners.

The seventh subseries contains contains correspondence relating to the admission of The Frank Rabbitt Collection on Enola Gay to the History of Aviation Collection (HAC) at UT Dallas. Major correspondents are author and historian Col. C. V. Glines; and author, publisher, and HAC founder Maj. George Haddaway.

The fourth series, "Interviews," contains personal notes, correspondence, a transcript, video and audio tapes, and a selection of business cards. Video and audio tapes, and transcript, contain interviews given by Rabbitt regarding his campaign to Nightline, PBS NewsHour, and local cable news program  The Other Side of the Story. Business cards contain contact information for people in various media outlets, as well as personal acquaintances.

The fifth series, "Government Documents," contains a United States Government Accounting Office report, requested by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, regarding the operations of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum (NASM). The report concludes that the museum’s efforts at preserving the Enola Gay were not adequate at the time.

The sixth series, "Memorabilia," contains a baseball cap with a design celebrating the deployment of atomic weapons in Japan during World War II.

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Series Description

The Frank Rabbitt Collection on Enola Gay is organized in six series:

Series I. Personal Papers 0.1 linear ft. (three folders), 1994.

Arranged by topic.

Series II. Smithsonian Records 1 linear ft. (nineteen folders), 1990-1999.

Arranged into three subseries: 1. The Last Act, 2. Selected Minutes, 3. Frank Rabbitt and the Enola Gay.

Subseries 1. The Last Act 1 linear ft. (fourteen folders), 1941-1988.

Arranged chronologically.

Subseries 2. Selected Minutes 0.1 linear ft. (one folder), 1994-1995.

Arranged chronologically.

Subseries 3. Frank Rabbitt and the Enola Gay 0.2 linear ft. (four folders), 1990-1999.

Arranged chronologically.

Series III. Correspondence 1 linear ft. (one manuscript box, eleven folders in a manuscript box), 1994.

Arranged into seven subseries: 1. Congressional Contacts, 2. Article Responses, 3.Newspaper Contacts, 4. Pilots, 5. Smithsonian, 6. Veterans’ Organizations, and 7. George Haddaway and UT Dallas.

Subseries 1. Congressional Contacts 0.2 linear ft. (five folders), 1994-1995.

Arranged by sender and recipient, then chronologically.

Subseries 2. Article Responses 0.1 linear ft. (three folders), 1994-1995.

Arranged chronologically, then by sender name.

Subseries 3. Newspaper Contact s 0.1 linear ft. (two folders), 1994-1995.

Arranged by document type, then chronologically.

Subseries 4. Pilots 0.2 linear ft. (three folders), 1994-1997.

Arranged by sender and recipient, then chronologically.

Subseries 5. Smithsonian 0.2 linear ft. (three folders), 1988-1998.

Arranged by topic, then chronologically.

Subseries 6. Veterans’ Organizations 0.2 linear ft. (three folders), 1993-1998.

Arranged by document type, then chronologically.

Subseries 7. George Haddaway and UT Dallas 0.1 linear ft. (one folder), 1994-1995.

Arranged by sender and recipient, then chronologically.

Series IV. Interviews 0.5 linear ft. (one nonstandard box, one folder in a manuscript box), 1994.

Arranged chronologically.

Series V. Government Documents 0.1 linear ft. (one folder), 1995.

One item.

Series VI. Memorabilia 0.7 linear ft. (one nonstandard box), undated.

One item.

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Related Materials

Additional Sources

Additional information about this topic can be found in the History of Aviation Collection, in the following collections.

W. Burr Bennett, Jr. Collection on the Enola Gay Controversy.

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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 : 5FR-1-1-PC1

5 = History of Aviation Archives (HAC)

FR = Frank Rabbitt Collection on Enola Gay

1 = Box Number

1 = Folder Number

P = Photograph/Postcard

C = Color

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. Personal Papers 

Africa. Undated   List of sightseeing items.


    Box Folder
Text   1 1

Cartoon. Undated   Cartoon entitled "Ten Commandments for Helicopter Flying."


    Box Folder
Graphic materials   1 2

Personal Notes. 2001 February 4   Correspondence, essays, and personal notes.


    Box Folder
Mixed materials   1 3

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Series II. Smithsonian Records 

Subseries 1. The Last Act

The Last Act, Part 1 (copy 1). 1994 January 12-14   Script of Smithsonian exhibit "The Last Act."


    Box Folder
Mixed materials   1 4

The Last Act, Part 2 (copy 1). 1994 January 12-14   Script of Smithsonian exhibit "The Last Act."


    Box Folder
Mixed materials   1 5

The Last Act, Part 3 (copy 1). 1994 January 12-14   Script of Smithsonian exhibit "The Last Act."


    Box Folder
Mixed materials   1 6

The Last Act, Part 4 (copy 1). 1994 January 12-14   Script of Smithsonian exhibit "The Last Act."


    Box Folder
Mixed materials   1 7

The Last Act, Additional Materials, I (copy 1). 1994 January-June   Advertisement, loose pages of script of Smithsonian exhibit "The Last Act."


    Box Folder
Mixed materials   1 8

The Last Act, Additional Materials, II (copy 1). 1994 January 14   Loose pages from script of Smithsonian exhibit "The Last Act."


    Box Folder
Mixed materials   1 9

The Last Act, Part 1 (copy 2). 1994 May 31   Script of Smithsonian exhibit "The Last Act."


    Box Folder
Mixed materials   1 10

The Last Act, Part 2 (copy 2). 1994 May 31   Script of Smithsonian exhibit "The Last Act."


    Box Folder
Mixed materials   1 11

The Last Act, Part 3 (copy 2). 1994 May 31   Script of Smithsonian exhibit "The Last Act."


    Box Folder
Mixed materials   2 1

The Last Act, Part 4 (copy 2). 1994 May 31   Script of Smithsonian exhibit "The Last Act."


    Box Folder
Mixed materials   2 2

The Last Act, Part 1 (copy 3). 1994 Oct 26   Script of Smithsonian exhibit "The Last Act."


    Box Folder
Mixed materials   2 3

The Last Act, Part 3 (copy 3). 1994 Oct 26   Script of Smithsonian exhibit "The Last Act."


    Box Folder
Mixed materials   2 5

The Last Act, Part 2 (copy 3). 1994 Oct 26   Script of Smithsonian exhibit "The Last Act."


    Box Folder
Mixed materials   2 4

The Last Act, Part 4 (copy 3). 1994 Oct 26   Script of Smithsonian exhibit "The Last Act."


    Box Folder
Mixed materials   2 6

Subseries 2. Selected Minutes 

Selected Minutes of NASM Staff Meetings. 1994-1995   Minutes and correspondence.


    Box Folder
Text   2 7

Subseries 3. Frank Rabbitt and the Enola Gay. 

Frank Rabbitt and the Enola Gay I, Part 1. 1994-1995   Correspondence, newspaper and magazine articles, and personal notes.


    Box Folder
Text   3 1

Frank Rabbitt and the Enola Gay I, Part 2. 1995-1999   Image number 5FR-3-2-PC1 and 5FR-3-2-PC2 depicting Frank Rabbit with friends at a dinner and the Enola Gay exhibit, respectively. Correspondence, newspaper and magazine articles, stamps and first day cover, and personal notes.


    Box Folder
Mixed materials   3 2

Frank Rabbitt and the Enola Gay II, Part 1. 1990-1994   Image number 5FR-3-2-PC3 depicting stacks of petitions. Correspondence, newspaper and magazine articles, and personal notes.


    Box Folder
Mixed materials   3 3

Frank Rabbitt and the Enola Gay II, Part 2. 1995    Image number 5FR-3-2-PC4 depicting Frank Rabbitt and friends at a party. Correspondence, newspaper and magazine articles, and personal notes.


    Box Folder
Mixed materials   3 4

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Series III. Correspondence 

Subseries 1. Congressional Contacts. 

Congressional Contacts, Part 1. 1994 January-November   Correspondence, newspaper articles, and personal notes.


    Box Folder
Mixed materials   3 5

Congressional Contacts, Part 2. 1995-1996   Correspondence, newspaper articles, press releases, and minutes.


    Box Folder
Text   3 6

Congressional Contacts, Part 3 - Sen. Ted Stevens I. 1995 March-May   Documentation of congressional hearings, correspondence, and newspaper articles.


    Box Folder
Text   3 7

Congressional Contacts, Part 4 - Sen. Ted Stevens II. 1995 May   Statements heard at congressional hearings.


    Box Folder
Text   3 8

Congressional Contacts, Part 5 - Sen. Ted Stevens III. 1995 January-August   Image number 5FR-3-9-PC1 Depicting Frank Rabbitt, Walt Reilly, Gen. Sweeney at congressional hearing. Correspondence.


    Box Folder
Mixed materials   3 9

Subseries 2. Article Responses. 

Article Responses, Part 1 - Petition Letters I. 1994 May-June   Correspondence.


    Box Folder
Text   4 1

Article Responses, Part 2 - Petition Letters II. 1994 July-August   Correspondence and newspaper articles.


    Box Folder
Text   4 2

Article Responses, Part 3 - The Sun Herald. 1994-1995   Correspondence and newspaper articles.


    Box Folder
Mixed materials   4 3

Subseries 3. Newspaper Contacts. 

Newspaper Contacts, Part 1. 1994-1995   Correspondence and newspaper articles.


    Box Folder
Mixed materials   4 4

Newspaper Contacts, Part 2 - Jerry Hannifin. 1994-1995   Correspondence and newspaper articles.


    Box Folder
Mixed materials   4 5

Subseries 4. Pilots. 

Pilots, Part 1 - Gen. Paul Tibbets I. 1994-1997   Image number 5FR-4-6-PC1 depicting Gen. Tibbits and others at a convention. Correspondence and drawings.


    Box Folder
Mixed materials   4 6

Pilots, Part 2 - Gen. Paul Tibbets II. 1994-1995   Newspaper and magazine articles, essays, and personal notes.


    Box Folder
Mixed materials   4 7

Pilots, Part 3 - Don Rehl. 1985-1996  (Bulk, 1994-1996)   Image number 5FR-4-8-PC1 and 5FR-4-8-PC2 depicting Don Rehl & Bill Rooney, and Paul Tibbets, respectively. Correspondence, newspaper articles, and letterhead.


    Box Folder
Mixed materials   4 8

Subseries 5. Smithsonian. 

Smithsonian, Part 1. 1988-1997   Annotated Smithsonian/NASM documents, newspaper and magazine articles.


    Box Folder
Mixed materials   4 9

Smithsonian, Part 2. 1990-1996   Correspondence, memos, and newspaper articles.


    Box Folder
Text   5 1

Smithsonian, Part 3 - Gerber Docents. 1988-1998   Image number 5FR-5-2-PC9 and 5FR-5-2-PC10 depicting Frank Rabbitt at volunteer work. Correspondence, newspaper articles, certificate of stock, and a funeral program.


    Box Folder
Mixed materials   5 2

Subseries 6. Veterans' Organizations. 

Veterans' Organizations, Part 1 - Correspondence. 1993-1998  (Bulk, 1993-1996)   Correspondence, newspaper and magazine articles.


    Box Folder
Mixed materials   5 3

Veterans' Organizations, Part 2 - Publications. 1995-1996   Newspaper and magazine articles, newsletters, and a contact list.


    Box Folder
Mixed materials   5 4

Veterans' Organizations, Part 3 - Reparations Documents. 1993-1994   Correspondence.


    Box Folder
Text   5 5

Veterans' Organizations, Part 4 - J. Gorman. 1994-1995   Correspondence.


    Box Folder
Text   5 6

Subseries 7. George Haddaway and UT Dallas. 

George Haddaway and UT Dallas. 1994-2001  (Bulk, 1994-1998)   Correspondence and newspaper articles.


    Box Folder
Mixed materials   5 7

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Series IV. Interviews. 

Interviews. 1994 August-December   Video and audio tapes, transcripts, business cards, correspondence, and newspaper articles.


    Box Folder
Text   5 8

Material Removed List

Video and audio tapes moved to Box 6.

Box

VHS and Audio Tapes. 1994 August-November 

Material Removed List

Audio and video tapes moved from box 5, folder 8.

6

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Series V. Government Documents. 

Government Documents. 1995 October 15   GAO report to Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.


    Box Folder
Text   5 9

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Series VI. Memorabilia. 

Box

Baseball cap. Undated 

7

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