Amelia Earhart was a bright student, a hard worker, and an adventurous spirit who sought to show the world that women could succeed in male dominated careers. In childhood, she enjoyed climbing trees, chasing rats and going on adventures in the neighborhood with her sister. Earhart’s father struggled to support the family so her mother frequently sent the girls to their maternal grandparents during particularly rough periods. Earhart was born in Atchison, Kansas but when she was ten, her father moved the family to Des Moines, Iowa. Despite the instability of her home life, Earhart excelled in school—specifically chemistry—and she graduated from Hyde Park High School in Philadelphia in 1916 after switching schools in her early education due to frequent moves.
After graduation she volunteered as a nurse’s aid for the Red Cross where she met many pilots wounded in World War I and developed an interest in aviation. Earhart visited an airfield with her father in 1920 and got to ride in one of the planes. Even though the flight was only ten minutes, after the plane was only a few hundred feet off the ground she knew she wanted to fly.
To fuel her new dream of flying, Amelia Earhart started working many jobs to pay for lessons from female pilot, Anita “Neta” Snook. She practiced many hours, read books on aviation, and cut her hair short to look like the other female aviators. A few months later, she purchased her first plane. It was a bright yellow biplane which she named “The Canary.”
In 1923 Earhart became the 16th woman to be issued a pilot license. She continued flying and by 1927 she had nearly 500 flying hours logged. The following year she was offered the chance to fly over the Atlantic with Charles Lindbergh and she eagerly accepted. After the flight, Earhart wished even more to conduct a flight of her own, not as just a passenger but as the pilot. She also focused on writing a book about her journey over the Atlantic entitled, 20 Hrs., 40 Mins., which was published in 1928.
In 1931, after a secret courtship with the editor of her book, George Putnam, the two were married. The next year, Earhart took her first solo flight from Newfoundland to Ireland making her the first woman to fly alone over the Atlantic nonstop. In our collection we have a check signed by Amelia Earhart to her husband George Putnam. There is a window in the back of the frame in which you can see Earhart’s signature and a picture of Earhart in the frame as shown below.
In our collection, we have a book written by Earhart on her adventures and travels as a aviator. Published in 1932 by Warren & Putnam, this copy of The Fun of It, is signed by Amelia Earhart on the front end-paper. This book is a first edition copy and it is in near fine condition.
1937 would mark her last flight. Earhart wanted to be the first woman to fly around the world. A team was assembled to help her reach her goal but the plans soon unraveled due to illness, weather conditions, and scheduling conflicts. However, thanks to Earhart’s determination, a second plan was drawn to attempt this feat. She flew from California to Florida, then publicly announced that she would be making the trip around the world. Fred Noonan would serve as her co-pilot. They stopped in Africa, India, and South Asia before coming upon the last 7,000 miles of their journey. It is during this last leg of the flight that Earhart and Noonan were lost.
Our collection includes Soaring Wings, a biography about Earhart by her husband, George Putnam after her death. It recounts the details of her life left out in her two autobiographical works. This is a first edition copy published in 1939 in near fine condition and good dust jacket. Last Flight, by Earhart, published posthumously in 1937, is a collection of notes and diary entries taken down during her attempt to circumnavigate the globe. We have a first edition copy pictured above in near fine condition.
It is unknown what happened to the plane or how long they survived after losing contact with the radio transmission although there are many theories. Some believe they made it to a nearby island and other believe the plane crashed into the ocean before reaching land. The U.S. government spent millions of dollars in the search but to no avail; the disappearance of Amelia Earhart remains a mystery.