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William J. Powell Collection

Topic:
Craftsmen Aero News (journal)
Creator:
Powell, William J., 1899-1942  Search this
Names:
"Five Blackbirds" Demonstration Team  Search this
Bessie Coleman Aero Club  Search this
Craftsmen of Black Wings, Inc.  Search this
United States. Army. American Expeditionary Forces  Search this
Powell, William J., 1899-1942  Search this
Extent:
0.31 Cubic feet (1 shared legal-size box 1 flat box 1 oversize folder)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Photographs
Clippings
Logs (records)
Date:
1917 - 1942
Summary:
The William J. Powell Collection consists of materials concerning the career and personal life of African-American entrepreneur and pilot William J. Powell, including his service in the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in World War I, his automobile business in Chicago, and his advocacy for African-American aviation as the founder of Craftsmen of Black Wings, Inc., author of Black Wings, and a primary organizer of the Bessie Coleman Aero Club and the "Five Blackbirds" demonstration team. Materials include identification and membership cards, flight logs and officer records, newspaper clippings, advertisements, and photographs.
Scope and Contents:
This collection contains materials concerning the career and personal life of African-American entrepreneur and pilot William J. Powell, including his service in the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in World War I, his automobile business in Chicago, and his advocacy for African-American aviation as the founder of Craftsmen of Black Wings, Inc., author of Black Wings, and a primary organizer of the Bessie Coleman Aero Club and the "Five Blackbirds" demonstration team.

The following types of materials are included: AEF identification card and records book, advertisements for his automobile business, his 1938-1939 flight logs, legal documents, marriage license, diploma, membership cards, burial and funeral records, and newspaper clippings. The collection also includes photographs from his time with the AEF and Bessie Coleman Aero Club, as well as portraits of Powell and his family. Materials found in the collection seem to indicate that some photographs have come from individuals other than Powell.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged into three categories: Aviation Career (American Expeditionary Forces and African-Americans in Aviation), Personal Materials (marriage and death records, automobile business, and memberships), and Photographs (AEF, aviation, portraits and family, and albums). Within these categories, materials are arranged chronologically.
Biographical Note:
William J. Powell (1899-1942) was a prominent African-American entrepreneur and pilot who urged African-Americans to become part of the future aviation industry.

Powell was born in Henderson, Kentucky, on July 29, 1899. He moved to Chicago at the age of eight. He entered the University of Illinois in 1916. He went to Officers' Training Camp in Fort Des Moines, Iowa, in June 1917, and was commissioned as a First Lieutenant in the American Expeditionary Forces at the completion of training camp. He served with the 317th Engineers and 365th Infantry during World War I. After his honorable discharge in 1919, he returned to the University of Illinois, graduating with honors and a degree of Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering in 1922.

He worked as an electrical engineer and electric welding instructor for Rock Island Railroad for two years. In 1924, he opened his first filling station and in two years' time, he had built a successful automobile business in South Chicago before moving to Los Angeles in 1928.

During the late 1920s and 1930s, Powell worked tirelessly to promote airmindedness in the black community. Under his umbrella organization, Craftsmen of Black Wings, Inc., Powell wrote a thinly disguised autobiography, Black Wings, in 1934; wrote and directed a 1935 documentary film, Unemployment, the Negro and Aviation; and published a trade journal entitled Craftsmen Aero News (1937-1938). Powell was also instrumental in organizing the Bessie Coleman Aero Club and the "Five Blackbirds" demonstration team. William J. Powell died in July 1942.
Provenance:
Donated by William H. Powell, III, gift, in 1999. Materials found in the collection seem to indicate that some photographs have come from individuals other than Powell.
Restrictions:
No restrictions on access
Rights:
Permissions Requests
Topic:
African Americans in aeronautics  Search this
Aeronautics -- Societies, etc.  Search this
Aeronautics  Search this
Genre/Form:
Photographs
Clippings
Logs (records)
Citation:
William J. Powell Collection, Accession 1999-0049, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
NASM.1999.0049
See more items in:
William J. Powell Collection
Archival Repository:
National Air and Space Museum Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nasm-1999-0049
Online Media:

American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) Officer's Record Book

Collection Creator:
Powell, William J., 1899-1942  Search this
Container:
Box 62 (Shared), Folder 3
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1917 - 1919
Collection Restrictions:
No restrictions on access
Collection Rights:
Permissions Requests
Collection Citation:
William J. Powell Collection, Accession 1999-0049, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
William J. Powell Collection
Archival Repository:
National Air and Space Museum Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nasm-1999-0049-ref10

Advertisement, Powell's Service Station, in The Heebie Jeebies

Collection Creator:
Powell, William J., 1899-1942  Search this
Container:
Box 62 (Shared), Folder 10
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
January 31, 1925
Collection Restrictions:
No restrictions on access
Collection Rights:
Permissions Requests
Collection Citation:
William J. Powell Collection, Accession 1999-0049, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
William J. Powell Collection
Archival Repository:
National Air and Space Museum Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nasm-1999-0049-ref11

Advertising Brochure, Powell's Service Station

Collection Creator:
Powell, William J., 1899-1942  Search this
Container:
Box 62 (Shared), Folder 11
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
circa 1926
Collection Restrictions:
No restrictions on access
Collection Rights:
Permissions Requests
Collection Citation:
William J. Powell Collection, Accession 1999-0049, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
William J. Powell Collection
Archival Repository:
National Air and Space Museum Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nasm-1999-0049-ref12

Legal Documents for the "Five Blackbirds"

Collection Creator:
Powell, William J., 1899-1942  Search this
Container:
Box 62 (Shared), Folder 4
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
November 1931
Collection Restrictions:
No restrictions on access
Collection Rights:
Permissions Requests
Collection Citation:
William J. Powell Collection, Accession 1999-0049, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
William J. Powell Collection
Archival Repository:
National Air and Space Museum Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nasm-1999-0049-ref13

Pilot's Flight Log

Collection Creator:
Powell, William J., 1899-1942  Search this
Container:
Box 62 (Shared), Folder 5
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1938 - 1939
Collection Restrictions:
No restrictions on access
Collection Rights:
Permissions Requests
Collection Citation:
William J. Powell Collection, Accession 1999-0049, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
William J. Powell Collection
Archival Repository:
National Air and Space Museum Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nasm-1999-0049-ref14

Advertisement, Craftsman Aero News

Collection Creator:
Powell, William J., 1899-1942  Search this
Container:
Box 62 (Shared), Folder 6
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
circa 1937
Collection Restrictions:
No restrictions on access
Collection Rights:
Permissions Requests
Collection Citation:
William J. Powell Collection, Accession 1999-0049, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
William J. Powell Collection
Archival Repository:
National Air and Space Museum Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nasm-1999-0049-ref15

Newspaper Clippings, African-American pilots

Collection Creator:
Powell, William J., 1899-1942  Search this
Container:
Box 62 (Shared), Folder 7
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
undated
Collection Restrictions:
No restrictions on access
Collection Rights:
Permissions Requests
Collection Citation:
William J. Powell Collection, Accession 1999-0049, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
William J. Powell Collection
Archival Repository:
National Air and Space Museum Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nasm-1999-0049-ref17

Marriage License [reproduction, original in Shared Box 132]

Collection Creator:
Powell, William J., 1899-1942  Search this
Container:
Box 62 (Shared), Folder 8
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
February 12, 1921
Collection Restrictions:
No restrictions on access
Collection Rights:
Permissions Requests
Collection Citation:
William J. Powell Collection, Accession 1999-0049, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
William J. Powell Collection
Archival Repository:
National Air and Space Museum Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nasm-1999-0049-ref18

Diploma, University of Illinois [reproduction, original in Shared box 132]

Collection Creator:
Powell, William J., 1899-1942  Search this
Container:
Box 62 (Shared), Folder 9
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
June 14, 1922
Collection Restrictions:
No restrictions on access
Collection Rights:
Permissions Requests
Collection Citation:
William J. Powell Collection, Accession 1999-0049, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
William J. Powell Collection
Archival Repository:
National Air and Space Museum Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nasm-1999-0049-ref19

University of Illinois yearbook, The Illio

Collection Creator:
Powell, William J., 1899-1942  Search this
Container:
Box 1, Item 1
Type:
Archival materials
Books
Date:
1923
Collection Restrictions:
No restrictions on access
Collection Rights:
Permissions Requests
Collection Citation:
William J. Powell Collection, Accession 1999-0049, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
William J. Powell Collection
Archival Repository:
National Air and Space Museum Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nasm-1999-0049-ref20

Newspaper Clippings, Powell's Service Station

Collection Creator:
Powell, William J., 1899-1942  Search this
Container:
Box 62 (Shared), Folder 12
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1920s
Collection Restrictions:
No restrictions on access
Collection Rights:
Permissions Requests
Collection Citation:
William J. Powell Collection, Accession 1999-0049, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
William J. Powell Collection
Archival Repository:
National Air and Space Museum Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nasm-1999-0049-ref21

Membership Cards

Collection Creator:
Powell, William J., 1899-1942  Search this
Container:
Box 62 (Shared), Folder 13
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1933 - 1938
Collection Restrictions:
No restrictions on access
Collection Rights:
Permissions Requests
Collection Citation:
William J. Powell Collection, Accession 1999-0049, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
William J. Powell Collection
Archival Repository:
National Air and Space Museum Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nasm-1999-0049-ref22

Service Award, Los Angeles Fellowship League

Collection Creator:
Powell, William J., 1899-1942  Search this
Container:
Box 62 (Shared), Folder 14
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1936
Collection Restrictions:
No restrictions on access
Collection Rights:
Permissions Requests
Collection Citation:
William J. Powell Collection, Accession 1999-0049, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
William J. Powell Collection
Archival Repository:
National Air and Space Museum Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nasm-1999-0049-ref23

Burial Record and Funeral Card

Collection Creator:
Powell, William J., 1899-1942  Search this
Container:
Box 62 (Shared), Folder 15
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
July 1942
Collection Restrictions:
No restrictions on access
Collection Rights:
Permissions Requests
Collection Citation:
William J. Powell Collection, Accession 1999-0049, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
William J. Powell Collection
Archival Repository:
National Air and Space Museum Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nasm-1999-0049-ref24

Photographs, American Expeditionary Force

Collection Creator:
Powell, William J., 1899-1942  Search this
Container:
Box 62 (Shared), Folder 16
Type:
Archival materials
Photographs
Date:
1917 - 1919
Collection Restrictions:
No restrictions on access
Collection Rights:
Permissions Requests
Collection Citation:
William J. Powell Collection, Accession 1999-0049, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
William J. Powell Collection
Archival Repository:
National Air and Space Museum Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nasm-1999-0049-ref25

Photographs, Aviation

Collection Creator:
Powell, William J., 1899-1942  Search this
Container:
Box 62 (Shared), Folder 17
Type:
Archival materials
Photographs
Date:
1920s and 1930s
Collection Restrictions:
No restrictions on access
Collection Rights:
Permissions Requests
Collection Citation:
William J. Powell Collection, Accession 1999-0049, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
William J. Powell Collection
Archival Repository:
National Air and Space Museum Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nasm-1999-0049-ref26

Photographs, Portraits and Family

Collection Creator:
Powell, William J., 1899-1942  Search this
Container:
Box 62 (Shared), Folder 18
Type:
Archival materials
Photographs
Date:
1920s
Collection Restrictions:
No restrictions on access
Collection Rights:
Permissions Requests
Collection Citation:
William J. Powell Collection, Accession 1999-0049, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
William J. Powell Collection
Archival Repository:
National Air and Space Museum Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nasm-1999-0049-ref27

Photographs, Delores Brown Album

Collection Creator:
Powell, William J., 1899-1942  Search this
Container:
Box 62 (Shared), Folder 19
Type:
Archival materials
Photographs
Date:
undated
Collection Restrictions:
No restrictions on access
Collection Rights:
Permissions Requests
Collection Citation:
William J. Powell Collection, Accession 1999-0049, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
William J. Powell Collection
Archival Repository:
National Air and Space Museum Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nasm-1999-0049-ref28

Photographs, Pamela Jean Murphy Album

Collection Creator:
Powell, William J., 1899-1942  Search this
Container:
Box 62 (Shared), Folder 20
Type:
Archival materials
Photographs
Date:
undated
Collection Restrictions:
No restrictions on access
Collection Rights:
Permissions Requests
Collection Citation:
William J. Powell Collection, Accession 1999-0049, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
William J. Powell Collection
Archival Repository:
National Air and Space Museum Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nasm-1999-0049-ref29

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