Guide to the William A. Rooney Collection on the "Enola Gay", 1917-2011
H005-99

 Finding aid prepared by Ally Boland.

Collection Overview

Repository
Special Collections Department, History of Aviation Collection.
Creator - Creator
Rooney, William A., Mr.
Title
William A. Rooney Collection on the Enola Gay
ID
H005-99
Date [bulk]
Bulk, 1988-1995
Date [inclusive]
1942-1999
Extent
3.35 Linear feet (Four manuscript boxes, one half-size manuscript box, two non-standard boxes (17.75 x 11.75 x 3.25) and (12.25 x 7.75 x 5.5).)
Language of Materials
Collection is in English.
Abstract
In 1995, the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum (NASM) created an exhibit to feature the Enola Gay, the B-29 bomber that dropped the first atomic bomb in warfare. The initial exhibit was controversial in its nature, with veteran groups claiming that the revisionist historical attitude was omitting the truth behind the reason to drop the atomic bomb and sympathizing too much with the Japanese. Veterans groups and others became involved in campaigns to display the  Enola Gay proudly and have the Smithsonian redesign their exhibit to respectfully display the airplane. William A. Rooney, a WWII veteran, was part of the community who helped change the NASM exhibit through letter writing campaigns and publishing articles on the subject in local papers and magazines. Consequently, Dr. Martin Harwit resigned his position as NASM director during the controversy. The original plan was eliminated and a more straightforward historical exhibit of the  Enola Gay was put in its place.

Citation

William A. Rooney Collection on the Enola Gay, 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
[email protected]

Access Restrictions

Materials in this collection are open for research.

Provenance Statement

The William A. Rooney Collection on the Enola Gay was donated to the History of Aviation Collection, Special Collections Department, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas, by William A. Rooney on March 9, 1999.

Note to the Researcher

Paperclips were removed and replaced with coated paperclips. Documents were separated with archival paper when appropiate. Oversize materials have been removed and placed into a non-standard size box.

Materials Removed List

0.1 linear ft. of duplicate materials were deaccessioned.

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Controlled Access Headings

Personal Name(s)

  • Rooney, William A., Mr.

Subject(s)

  • History of Aviation Collection

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Biographical Sketch

William Albert Rooney, known as Bill, was born on August 29, 1917 in La Corrse, Wisconsin.

Rooney was drafted into military service on June 4, 1941 and was a member of the Army Air Forces until his honorable discharge on points in February 1946. He was an intelligence officer and a member of the 40th Bomb Group and in the 20th Bomber Command, headquartered in India and China. He received a number of military awards plus medals from the Chinese National Government and the People's Republic of China.

After the war, he had a business career in advertising in Chicago until his retirement in 1974. Rooney assisted with the formation of the 40th Bomb Group Association in 1980, and was editor of the organizations newsletter and MEMORIES, a publication of the group member's experiences. He authored one book,  Architectural Ornamentation In Chicago and co-authored  The Enola Gay and the Smithsonian Institution with Charles O'Reilly.

In 1995, the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum planned to create an exhibit on the Enola Gay, the B-29 bomber that dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan and its impact on the world in honor of the fiftieth anniversary of the attack. Numerous veteran groups and others became angered when seeing the initial script for the exhibit, claiming that the exhibit showed too much sympathy for the Japanese and disregarded the American soldiers who sacrificed their lives. These groups insisted that the Smithsonian alter the exhibit to properly reflect the decision making process behind dropping the atomic bomb and displaying the  Enola Gay proudly instead of endorsing the revisionist history theories of the issue. After several months of conversations and compromises, the Smithsonian scrapped its original exhibit and designed a simpler one, focusing on the aircraft and the importance of its place within the greater historical context.

Rooney was a founding member of the Enola Gay Restoration Committee and was earnestly involved in the "Display the  Enola Gay Proudly Campaign," which collected over 12,000 signatures for their cause. He played an important role behind the scenes of the campaign, which included letter writing, collecting signatures and spreading the word about this issue through letters to editors of magazines and newspapers.

Bill Rooney was married to Roberta, with whom he had one child, Timothy (Susan) Rooney. He passed away at the age of 94 on September 3, 2011.

Source
 O'Reilly, Charles T. and William A. Rooney. The "Enola Gay" and the Smithsonian Institution. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co., 2005. (Call Number HAC D 767.25.H6 O74 2005)
Source
 William A. Rooney Collection on the Enola Gay, Folder 1, Box 1, Series I, History of Aviation Collection, Special Collections Department, McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas.
Source
 "WILLIAM A. ROONEY's Obituary on Chicago Tribune." Chicago Tribune. September 7, 2011. Accessed January 29, 2015. http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/chicagotribune/obituary.aspx?pid=153500530.

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Scope and Content

This collection contains an autobiography, correspondence, newspaper and magazine articles, bound articles, minutes, transcripts, personal notes, bibliographies, audio cassettes, stamps, memorabilia, essays, other materials that were created and collected by William Rooney to document his participation in the campaign against the 50th anniversary Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (NASM) exhibit on the Enola Gay.

The collection arrived in excellent condition and well organized by the donor/creator. From this initial arrangement, the archivist arranged the collection into six series in four manuscript boxes, one half-size manuscript box, and two non-standard boxes, totaling 3.35 linear ft.

Series 1 contains personal materials. It contains three items that were part of the accessioning process. The first is an autobiography by Rooney, detailing his life with a heavy emphasis on his military career. The second is a letter to former curator of the History of Aviation Collection (HAC) of The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD), C.V. Glines, concerning the explanatory notes that Rooney included throughout the collection. Lastly is another letter to C.V. Glines about shipping information and tracking numbers for packages containing his collection.

The second series is correspondence that Rooney wrote and received before, during, and after the Enola Gay controversey.

Subseries 1 contains letters that Rooney received. The majority of these letters are about the Enola Gay and the issues surrounding the Smithsonian exhibit. Some of these letters are not addressed to him, but were forwarded to him after the fact. The main senders are W. Burr Bennet, Jr., Don Rehl, Frank Rabbitt, and J. Ivan Potts, Jr.

Subseries 2 is the letters written from Rooney to others. The content is mostly about the proper restoration of the Enola Gay and encouraging others to assist with the movement. Rooney wrote to senators, authors, editors, and various friends and acquaintances in his efforts. This subseries also contains the primary letter to the Smithsonian Secretary Robert Adams that Rooney claimed sparked the initial debate concerning the aircraft in 1986.

Subseries 3 contains assorted letters neither addressed to Rooney nor sent by him. All are concerned with the Enola Gay and the effort that was being undertaken to have her displayed proudly at the Smithsonian Institution.

The third series, "Publications" is a large series containing four subseries: Bound Materials, News Articles, Website, and Support Materials.

Subseries 1 contains a variety of bound materials, including magazines such as the Friends Journal, which includes a explanatory note from creator with the quarterly journal produced by the Air Force Museum Foundation, Inc. from spring 1992, the  Air Force Magazine,  Journal of American History, and  The New Criterion. Four bound groups of materials concerning the  Enola Gay debate with the Smithsonian are in the subseries. These bound journals include correspondence, news articles, scripts, lists of television and radio coverage, and other diverse materials.

Subseries 2 contains news clippings concerning the Enola Gay that appeared in a variety of news sources between 1942-1998.

Subseries 3 is just one folder containing a print out of a website with bibliographic information about the Enola Gay Controversy.

Subseries 4 contains support materials. The Enola Gay Restoration Committee folder contains documents relating to the short lived organization, including correspondence, meeting minutes, blank stationery, membership cards, memership applications, and a proposal to the National Air and Space Museum for cooperative effort in 1988. Also in this subseries is a folder containing papers written by Dennis Giangreco, who was a publications editor at the Military Review at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, and was in the forefront against the revisionist history template. The last two folders in the series contain various support materials that do not quite fit into any other section and include proposals, quotes, testimony, high school essays, notes, and speeches mainly about the  Enola Gay and the controversy.

Series 4, "Media" consists of two cassette tapes from a 1995 session on "Presenting History: Museums in a Democratic Society." The first tape on side one has the "The Enola Gay Exhibit: A Case Study in Controversy" recorded on it.

Series 5 contains one folder of six sheets of unofficial stamps. In 1995, the 50th anniversary of the defeat of Japan, the United States Postal Service was preparing to release a commemorative stamp. However, the Japanese government objected and the stamp was cancelled. Veterans and other groups became angry and decided to print their own commemorative stamps, two of which are shown in this folder.

Series 6 is comprised of one item, a trucker hat from the Enola Gay Restoration Association.

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Series Description

The William A. Rooney Collection on the Enola Gay is arranged into six series:

Series I. Personal 0.1 linear ft. (one folder), 1999.

Arranged by topic.

Series II. Correspondence 0.56 linear ft. (sixteen folders), 1984-1997.

Subseries 1. Received 0.16 linear ft. (six folders), 1984-1997.

Arranged chronologically.

Subseries 2. Sent 0.15 linear ft. (five folders), 1986-1997.

Arranged by alphabetically by recipient's last name.

Subseries 3. Other 0.25 linear ft. (five folders), 1953-1997.

Arranged chronologically.

Series III. Publications 1.6 linear ft. (twenty-seven folders), 1942-1998.

Subseries 1. Bound Materials 0.5 linear ft. (ten folders), 1992-1998.

Arranged chronologically.

Subseries 2. News Articles 0.47 linear ft. (twenty-one folders), 1942-1998.

Arranged chronologically.

Subseries 3. Website 0.1 linear ft. (one folder), 1996.

Arranged chronologically.

Subseries 4. Support Materials 0.18 linear ft. (four folders), 1987-1998.

Arranged alphabetically.

Series IV. Media 0.1 linear ft. (one folder), 1995.

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

Series VI. Memorabilia 0.7 linear ft. (one non-standard 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.

William E. Cooper Collection on Enola Gay.

Frank Rabbitt Collection on Enola Gay.

And these outside repositories:

Air Force Historical Foundation, Enola Gay Exhibition Records at the Smithsonian Instituion Archives.

Alfred Fabian Young papers, 1963-1995. at the Wisconsin Historical Society Library and Archives.

Oral history interview with Mello Stapleton, [sound recording], 1994. at the Wisconsin Veterans Museum Research Center.

Presenting history [videorecording] : museums in a democratic society. at the Washington State University - Holland Library.

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Collection Inventory

Series I. Personal 

Personal. 1999 February-March   Biography and correspondence.


    Box Folder
Text   1 1

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Series II. Correspondence 

Subseries 1. Received 

Correspondence. 1984-1986 


    Box Folder
Text   1 2

Correspondence. 1987-1989 


    Box Folder
Text   1 3

Correspondence. 1990-1993 


    Box Folder
Text   1 4

Correspondence. 1994  


    Box Folder
Text   1 5

Correspondence. 1995-1997 


    Box Folder
Text   1 6

Correspondence. Undated 


    Box Folder
Text   1 7

Subseries 2. Sent 

Letters A-D. 1986-1997 


    Box Folder
Text   1 8

Letters, E-K. 1986-1996 


    Box Folder
Text   1 9

Letters, L-P. 1986-1995 


    Box Folder
Text   1 10

Letters, R-Y. 1986-1996 


    Box Folder
Text   1 11

Letters, Other. 1986-1997 


    Box Folder
Text   1 12

Subseries 3. Other 

Correspondence. 1953-1993 


    Box Folder
Text   1 13

Correspondence. 1994 January-June 


    Box Folder
Text   2 1

Correspondence. 1994 July-December 


    Box Folder
Text   2 2

Correspondence. 1995-1997 


    Box Folder
Text   2 3

Correspondence. Undated 


    Box Folder
Text   2 4

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Series III. Publications 

Subseries 1. Bound Materials 

Friends Journal, vol. 15 no. 1. 1992   Note and magazine.


    Box Folder
Text   2 5

The Enola Gay Debate. 1995   Bound articles.


    Box Folder
Text   2 6

Enola Gay Coverage. 1994   Bound articles.


    Box Folder
Text   2 7

Enola Gay Coverage. 1994   Bound articles.


    Box Folder
Text   3 1

Air Force Magazine. 1994-1995   John T. Correll, "Revisionism Gone Wrong: Analysis of the 'Enola Gay' Controversy," 1994.


    Box Folder
Text   3 2

Enola Gay Coverage. 1995   Bound articles.


    Box Folder
Text   3 3

"Presenting History: Museums in a Democratic Society." 1995   Symposium summary.


    Box Folder
Text   3 4

The Journal of American History, vol. 82 no. 3. 1995 


    Box Folder
Text   3 5

The New Criterion, vol. 15 no. 9. 1997 


    Box Folder
Text   3 6

A Brief History of the Enola Gay. 1998   Pamphlet.


    Box Folder
Text   3 7

Subseries 2. News Articles 

Media. 1942-1986   Loose news clippings.


    Box Folder
Text   3 8

Media. 1987   Loose news clippings.


    Box Folder
Text   3 9
    Box Folder
Text   7 1

Processing Information note

Oversize materials from Box 3 have been moved to Box 7.

Media. 1988   Loose news clippings.


    Box Folder
Text   3 10
    Box Folder
Text   7 2

Processing Information note

Oversize materials from Box 3 have been moved to Box 7.

Media. 1989   Loose news clippings.


    Box Folder
Text   3 11
    Box Folder
Text   7 3

Processing Information note

Oversize materials from Box 3 have been moved to Box 7.

Media. 1990   Loose news clippings.


    Box Folder
Text   4 1
    Box Folder
Text   7 4

Processing Information note

Oversize materials from Box 4 have been moved to Box 7.

Media. 1991-1993   Loose news clippings.


    Box Folder
Text   4 2
    Box Folder
Text   7 5

Processing Information note

Oversize materials from Box 4 have been moved to Box 7.

Media. 1994   Loose news clippings.


    Box Folder
Text   4 3
    Box Folder
Text   7 6

Processing Information note

Oversize materials from Box 4 have been moved to Box 7.

Media. 1995   Loose news clippings.


    Box Folder
Text   4 4
    Box Folder
Text   7 7

Processing Information note

Oversize materials from Box 4 have been moved to Box 7.

Media. 1996   Loose news clippings.


    Box Folder
Text   4 5
    Box Folder
Text   7 8

Processing Information note

Oversize materials from Box 4 have been moved to Box 7.

Media. 1997   Loose news clippings.


    Box Folder
Text   4 6

Media. 1998   Loose news clippings.


    Box Folder
Text   4 7

Media. Undated   Loose news clippings.


    Box Folder
Text   4 8
    Box Folder
Text   7 9

Processing Information note

Oversize materials from Box 4 have been moved to Box 7.

Subseries 3. Website 

Enola Gay Perspectives Website. 1996   Printout of website bibliography.


    Box Folder
Text   4 9

Subseries 4. Support Materials 

Enola Gay Restoration Committee. 1987-1993   Correspondence, meeting minutes, reports, and stationery.


    Box Folder
Text   4 10

Giangreco Papers. 1995-1998   Publications of Dennis Giangreco.


    Box Folder
Text   4 11

Support Material. 1989-1995   Notes, testimony, speeches, and quotes.


    Box Folder
Text   5 1

Support Material. 1988-1994   Proposals, quotes, notes, applications, and speeches.


    Box Folder
Text   5 2

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Series IV. Media 

"Musems in a Democratic Society". 1995 


    Box Folder
Audio   5 3

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Series V. Philately 

Unofficial Stamps. 1995   Sheets of unpublished stamps.


    Box Folder
Ephemera   5 4

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Series VI. Memorabilia 

Enola Gay Restoration Association. Undated   Trucker hat.


    Box Object
Realia   6 1

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