For decades women faced tremendous hurdles in their desire to become pilots. In the early years they weren’t allowed to enter into competitions such as the National Air Race because these races were thought to be too dangerous for women. In 1929 women pilots held their first National Women’s Air Derby. Humorist Will Rogers, who was the starter for the race, referred to the women pilots as “petticoat pilots and flying flappers” and nicknamed the race the Powder Puff Derby.
This photograph shows a group of women welcoming Petticoat Pilots to the airport at Greenville, North Carolina, in August of 1965. I don’t know what the occasion was for this group of women pilots gathering, but it is interesting that the nickname for women pilots in 1929 was still being used in 1965.
Information about the Powder Puff Derby came from Karen Bush Gibson’s book titled, Women Aviators: 26 Stories of Pioneer Flights, Daring Missions, and Record-Setting Journeys.
Source: John B. Green Collection #380.2.b
Staff Person: Jonathan Dembo
Description: Seen in the photograph above are four, unnamed, concrete-hulled river steamers at the Newport Shipping Corporation shipyard, in New Bern, North Carolina. They are obviously incomplete and unnamed. Built to solve the desperate shortage of steel for shipping during World War I, they were just one of the many innovations, from flame-throwers to tanks to aerial warfare, inspired by the “War to End All Wars”. During the first World War, steel had become so scarce that the U. S. Shipping Corporation which controlled all American shipping during the war, recommended that President Woodrow Wilson approve the construction of 24 such concrete ships. Of the 24, only 12 were built, at a total cost of $50 million. The Newport Shipbuilding Corporation of New Bern, NC was one of the companies selected to build the ships. Not one of the ships was finished in time to contribute to the war effort and were launched only in 1921, just when a huge surplus of now-unneeded shipping was beginning to flood the market. By the time the ships were completed, the war was already long over and the nation was still mired in a deep postwar recession. Just what happened to the ships built in New Bern is a matter of some conjecture. Most of the others sank or were converted to other purposes such as breakwaters, hotels, and fishing piers. It is unclear what happened to some of them. Please contact the author if you know the present location of any of the New Bern built concrete ships.
Take a step back in time to 1914 Greenville, N. C., in this C. E. Weaver Series, “Illustrated Cities”, by Central Publishing Co., Inc., in Richmond, Virginia. Greenville was growing and changing: The Center Brick Warehouse was selling Bright Leaf Tobacco (93,762 pounds avg. at $24.55 per hundred). The Flanagan Buggy Co. distributed products throughout Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Alabama. The Greenville Ice and Coal Co. was a necessity for this community. The R.L. Smith Stables sold and exchanged horses and mules. The East Carolina Teachers Training School is now called East Carolina University; the campus consisted of the Power House, Dining Hall, Infirmary, Dormitories and the Administration Building and the soon to be erected library, gymnasium and the President’s Residence. These are just a few highlights from the pamphlet from the Junius D. Grimes Papers #571.
Description: Today’s staff pick features a Spring and Summer 1912 Hat Sales Brochure for clothing manufacturer, Dunlap & Co. Inside the cover is printed the local sales agency, Sole Agency, Hampton Roads Hat Co., Norfolk, VA. Interestingly, this street scene features both a horse-driven carriage and a “horseless carriage.”
The entire catalog can be found at the following link:
Description: This image offers a nice view of the Barbour Boat Works factory in New Bern, North Carolina. The business ended in the mid-1980s. Included in the Barbour Boat Works, Inc. Records are important ship drawings, correspondence and photos. We plan to add descriptions of all photos in this collection very soon. Check the finding aid at the following link for future updates. http://specialcollections.ecu.edu/special/ead/findingaids/0758/
General Motors Corporation (GMC) has flourished throughout much of its history as a major American automobile manufacturer. Considered “one of the big three,” alongside Ford and Chrysler, GMC was created in 1908. The great Wall Street crash in 1929 put a quick halt to all expansion plans for GMC, as its stock price quickly fell. In 1930, GMC bought Electro-Motive Corporation, the internal combustion engine railcar builder. For several years to come, GMC-powered diesel locomotives were heavily used on American railroads. During the early 1930’s GMC continued its recovery and bought the Yellow Coach Bus Company. In 1955 GMC became the first company to make more than a billion dollars in one year. At one time GMC was also the largest corporation in the United States and the single largest employer in the world. However, in 2005 GMC posted a loss of $4 billion, laid off approximately 30,000 employees, and closed 12 plants. GMC largely flourished as a company for nearly a century before officially declaring bankruptcy in June 2009.
Today’s staff pick offers a glimpse into the golden age of GMC. This is a foldout brochure poster advertising GMC’s line of work trucks for 1956. The brochure was sent from Craven Motor Co., Inc. in New Bern, N.C. to Barbour Boat Works (also in New Bern).
For more information on the Barbour Boat Works Records or any other collections we hold, please contact us for further details.
This week’s staff pick celebrates the twentieth anniversary of the completion of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Originally a Depression-era public works project, the original groundbreaking took place in September 1935. In 1987 the last section was completed near Grandfather Mountain. The parkway is an official part of the United States National Park System. Sources: http://www.nps.gov/blri/ and http://www.blueridgeparkway.org/
The two photographs below represent very early development of the parkway. The photos have the following inscriptions: “Blue Ridge Parkway. Section 2c. Perry McGlone Contractor. Construction at ‘Ice Rock.’ 8/5/36″
Blue Ridge Parkway construction at Ice Rock
“Blue Ridge Parkway. Section 2c. Taken at ‘Ice Rocks.’ Waynick-Ross-Browning-Cates. 8/12/36″
N.C. Highway Commission officials visiting Ice Rock section during construction of Blue Ridge Parkway
From accompanying correspondence, it is pretty certain that “Cates” is J. R. Cates, claim adjuster for the North Carolina State Highway and Public Works Commission. “Waynick” is Capus Waynick, Chairman of the commission. Waynick served in this position from 1934-1937.
Waynick was a native of Rockingham County, NC and had a long career as a journalist, legislator, administrator, diplomat and arbiter. His papers document this career and can be found here in the East Carolina Manuscript Collection. A finding aid is available at Manuscript Collection 421 Please contact us with any questions or comments you may have.
Description: 1953 Ford Sunliner Indy 500 Pace Car Convertible 1953 Ford Crestline Sunliner Indianapolis 500 Pace Car Convertible, rumored to be just one of 10 known to exist. The date, May 30, 1953 was permanently stenciled on its rear fender, as well as the words ‘official pace car’ on the driver’s door. 1953 was Ford’s 50th year. Driven in the 1953 race by William Clay Ford, Sr. He was the 4th member of the Ford family to be a pace car driver. Bill Vukovich (Fresno Ca.) won the 1953 Indy 500, he endured searing heat and led for 195 laps to win the 500, one of only five drivers that year to finish the race without relief. His average speed was 128.74 mph. His qualifying speed is 138.392 mph.