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"Katherine Stinson preparing biplane for takeoff," 1908. Courtesy of the Missouri History Museum via the Missouri Hub. 

Credits

This exhibition was created as part of the DPLA’s Digital Curation Program by the following students as part of Professor Debbie Rabina’s course "Information Services and Sources" in the School of Information and Library Science at Pratt Institute: Megan DeArmond, Diana Moronta, Laurin Paradise.

Citation

DeArmond, Megan, Diana Moronta, and Laurin Paradise. Women with Wings: American Aviatrixes. Digital Public Library of America. March 2015. http://dp.la/exhibitions/exhibits/show/american-aviatrixes.

Throughout the early twentieth century, women looked to break new ground in ways never before possible, and the sky literally became the limit. As the nation moved into the aviation age, many women saw flying as a way to break out of traditional societal roles. It gave women not just an opportunity for adventure and excitement, but a way to earn a living outside of the home that demanded respect.

Aviatrix Ruth Bancroft Law described it, after defeating the cross-country distance record: "There is an indescribable feeling which one experiences in flying; it comes with no other form of sport or navigation. It takes courage and daring; one must be self-possessed, for there are moments when one's wits are tested to the full. Yet there is an exhilaration that compensates for all one's efforts."

In this exhibition we explore the early history of aviation and the courageous women who took to the skies—aviatrixes who found freedom, broke new ground, and inspired generations of women along the way.