Elizabeth Lippincott McQueen Papers

Aviation pioneer Elizabeth Lippincott (Mrs. Ulysses Grant) McQueen with her parrot, Dick, in 1937. Caption on the back, in Mrs. McQueen’s hand, “My favorite with Dick–He has an intelligent eye.” Dick was known to say “Hello girls! Can you fly? I can fly!”
Among the several collections of aviation materials held by Special Collections are the papers of Elizabeth Lippincott McQueen (1878-1958), a tireless proponent for women in aviation, and founder of the Women’s International Association of Aeronautics (WIAA).
Elizabeth Lippincott was born in New Jersey in 1878, and in 1900 married Ulysses Grant McQueen (1864-1937), a wealthy inventor and manufacturer in New York City. The couple lived in New York City until 1928, when they moved to Beverly Hills, California. During World War I, Mrs. McQueen served in war relief work in Palestine under Field Marshal Allenby. In 1919 she founded the Jerusalem News, the first English-language newspaper in Jerusalem.
Mrs. McQueen became interested in aviation when in 1920 she witnessed seven airplanes “take the place of two British regiments of soldiers” in routing a large number of rebel Arab cavalry in the desert near Aden.

A vision, mental and spiritual, came to me of millions of women with the hands upraised acclaiming: ‘Save my son from war, save my son from war, save my son from war!’ I mentally saw these women’s faces and hands upraised far into space and heard their voices entreating me. This vision has never left me. Then and there I dedicated my life to aeronautics as an instrument for World Peace.

In September 1928, Mrs. McQueen organized the Women’s Aeronautic Association of California, which was soon followed by similar organizations in New York, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Canada, England, France, Germany, Australia, and New Zealand. In May 1929, these various groups coalesced into the Women’s International Association of Aeronautics (WIAA), which became the principal focus of her activities for the rest of her life. Mrs. McQueen served as “founder and honorary president” of the WIAA; presidents of the association were, in turn, prominent British aviator Lady Mary Heath (1929-1932), British reporter Lady Grace Hay Drummond-Hay (1932-1940), educator Dr. Mary Sinclair Crawford (1940-1947), actress Mary Pickford (1947-1949), airplane manufacturing executive Olive Ann Beech (1949-1954), and pioneer aviator Matilde Moisant (1954-). A junior division of the WIAA was organized in 1931; members under 7 years old were called “tailwinds”, those from 7 through 20 years old “zoomers”.
In 1929, Mrs. McQueen and Lady Heath appealed to the Federation Aeronautique Internationale in Paris to have women’s air records recognized, an appeal that was ultimately successful. At the same time, in order to arouse greater interest in women’s flying, Mrs. McQueen conceived the idea and was one of the principal organizers of the first Women’s Air Derby from Santa Monica, California, to the 1929 National Air Races in Cleveland. 19 female aviators took part in this forerunner to the Powder Puff Derby, the winners being Louise Thaden and, in the lighter aircraft category, Phoebe Omlie.
In 1932 and 1933, Mrs. McQueen published a column, “Happy Contacts”, concerning women and aviation, in the monthly magazine Speed; she also published several articles in The Air Pilot in 1933. In July 1933, Mrs. McQueen, who in 1929 had been deputized as the first aerial policewoman in the world by Police Chief Charles Blair of Beverly Hills, organized the Women’s Aerial Police Association, whose members were deputized to assist the civil authorities in times of emergency. From March 1940 to February 1941, she also undertook a Goodwill Tour to Mexico and Central and South America, on which she publicly read a letter from Eleanor Roosevelt and met with many pioneer female flyers.
Ulysses Grant McQueen died in 1937, and about 1955 Mrs. McQueen married Dr. Irving Reed Bancroft, a prominent retired Los Angeles physician. She died at her home in Hermosa Beach, California, on December 24, 1958, aged 80, after a long period of declining health. Her ashes are interred in the Portal of the Folded Wing in Pierce Brothers Valhalla Cemetery, in North Hollywood. Although she had devoted her life to furthering the role of women in aviation, she had never obtained a pilot’s license.
The Elizabeth Lippincott McQueen Papers form a small collection, but it is particularly noteworthy for its materials relating to pioneer women aviators such as Florence Lowe “Pancho” Barnes, Alys McKey Bryant, and Evelyn “Bobbie” Trout. Additional photographs document an undated (but almost certainly 1934) gala luncheon, probably at the Del Mar Club in Santa Monica, attended by many of the leading pioneer women aviators of the day; the 1933 visit of the brothers Auguste and Jean Piccard to the University of Southern California; several breakfasts at the Los Angeles Breakfast Club, honoring, among others, Col. Roscoe Tanner, Clyde Pangborn, Thea Rasche, and Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith; the victory of Louise Thaden and Blanche Noyes in the 1936 Bendix Trophy Race; a 1949 luncheon for Mrs. Amy Otis Earhart; and many events held at the Mission Inn, Riverside, where Mrs. McQueen resided for much of the 1940s, and whose Famous Fliers Wall held a special significance to aviators of her generation. A finding aid of the full collection is available at the Online Archive of California.

Map of Namibian diamond fields in the William L. Honnold papers

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Honnold/Mudd Special Collections holds materials from all over the world. This map of the diamond regions of what is now Namibia is part of a report compiled in 1921 for Consolidated Diamond Mines of South West Africa, Ltd. (since 1994 Namdeb Diamond Corporation), founded by Mr. (later Sir) Ernest Oppenheimer.
The report is part of the papers of William Lincoln Honnold (1866-1950), mining engineer and together with Oppenheimer co-founder of Anglo American Corporation. Born in Illinois, Honnold lived in South Africa from 1902 until 1915, when he moved to London to serve as London director of his friend Herbert Hoover’s Committee for Relief of Belgium (in 1917, he returned to the United States to serve as New York director for the same organization). Upon retiring in the early 1920s, Honnold moved to California, where he and his wife, Caroline, became dedicated supporters of higher education, in particular Caltech and the Claremont Colleges. Honnold was a member of the first Board of Fellows of Claremont College, and also served as a member of the Pomona College Board of Trustees. He and his wife provided the funds to build Honnold Library. Honnold was also a close friend and colleague of the Mudd family, some of whose papers are also in Special Collections.
The Honnold papers contain a wealth of papers and photographs documenting mining in the United States and Southern Africa in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, life in Southern California in the 1920s and 1930s, famous individuals such as Oppenheimer and Hoover, and the history of the Claremont Colleges. The collection is currently being processed, and a finding aid will be available shortly.

Darlene Nicgorski papers

The papers of Darlene Nicgorski, a leader of the Sanctuary movement for Central American refugees in the United States in the early 1980s, have been processed by Honnold/Mudd Special Collections staff, and a finding aid is now available online at the Online Archive of California (OAC).
Darlene Nicgorski was born and educated in Wisconsin. She first became involved with the people of Central America in 1980, when, as a member of the School Sisters of St. Francis, she answered the call to help members of her congregation in Guatemala set up a preschool program there. Forced to flee Guatemala after the assassination of her mentor, Padre Tulio, barely six months after her arrival, Sister Darlene, while visiting her family in Phoenix, Arizona, became involved with the Sanctuary movement. The Sanctuary movement, which at its height in 1985 had approximately 500 member sites across the United States, had begun in 1980, when a handful of residents of Tucson, Arizona, in violation of United States law, began providing legal, financial, and material aid to Central American refugees. In March 1982, on the second anniversary of Archbishop Oscar Romero’s assassination, the Rev. John Fife declared his congregation, the Southside Presbyterian Church in Tucson, the first public sanctuary in the United States. In 1983, Sister Darlene was asked by the Chicago Religious Task Force on Central America to coordinate the movement of refugees to Sanctuary congregations throughout the country. Less than two years later, the Immigration and Nationalization Service cracked down on the Sanctuary Movement, and in January 1985, Sister Darlene was among 16 arrested and charged with 71 counts of conspiracy and encouraging and aiding illegal aliens to enter the United States. The trial in Tucson, which attracted considerable national attention, ran from October 1985 to May 1986. Sister Darlene was convicted of conspiracy to violate immigration law and two counts each of transporting and aiding and abetting the harboring of illegal aliens. Facing a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison, she was given a suspended sentence and five years’ probation.
A popular spokesperson for the Sanctuary movement since her arrest, Sister Darlene fulfilled over 200 speaking engagements between 1985 and 1988. She also received many awards, including Ms magazine’s 1986 Woman of the Year, the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California’s Earl Warren Civil Liberties Award for 1986, and the Women’s Ordination Conference Prophetic Figure Award for 1987. She was the first Roman Catholic to receive Union Theological Seminary’s Union Medal.
After the trial, Sister Darlene relocated to Massachusetts, where she continued to write about her experiences from a feminist faith perspective. After increasingly questioning the Roman Catholic Church’s attitudes regarding sexuality and women, she left the School Sisters of St. Francis in 1987. After leaving the religious life, Nicgorski held positions as a teacher and educational consultant; she retired in 2011 after 22 years in human resources. She and her life partner, Chris, plan to move to Claremont in the near future.
Darlene Nicgorski’s papers comprise writings, correspondence, newspaper and periodical clippings, legal papers, flyers, programs, photographs, audiotapes and videotapes, and graphic and other materials relating to her life and career. The materials fall into three broad groups:
The materials documenting the trial of Nicgorski and her co-defendants in Federal District Court in Tucson, Arizona (the “Arizona Sanctuary Trial”), their conviction and sentencing, and their unsuccessful appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (1985-1989) include relatively few court documents, or documents relating to the defendants as a group, but focus on Nicgorski and her defense, prepared and undertaken by Michael Altman. Especially noteworthy are the original microcassettes and transcripts of Nicgorski’s daily reflections on the course of the trial; her statements to attorneys and the other defendants, and her public statements during the trial; and interviews of Nicgorski and several witnesses by defense counsel Michael Altman. Other significant materials include post-conviction letters concerning Nicgorski addressed to Judge Carroll for his consideration when determining her sentence; a large number of letters of support addressed to Nicgorski; and two extensive collections of clippings from newspapers and periodicals, one prepared by Nicgorski herself, the other by the Sanctuary Defense Fund’s media office.
Materials documenting Nicgorski’s involvement with the Sanctuary movement (1981-1987) include studies, flyers, pamphlets, and special issues of periodical publications, that investigate and report on the issues confronting refugees from Central America, their attempts to escape repression in their homeland, the movement in the United States to provide asylum and sanctuary for these refugees, United States government policy on Central America, and the actions of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Materials of particular significance include audiotaped interviews in the early 1980s with refugees; photographs documenting Nicgorski’s work in Central America and with Central American refugees in Arizona; and extensive records–including some audiotapes and videotapes–of Nicgorski’s speaking engagements. Other significant materials include publicity, programs, and liturgies for prayer and worship services for the movement; the Freedom Train Sanctuary caravan from Phoenix to Northampton, Massachusetts, in the summer of 1987; posters, newspaper political cartoons, and other graphics concerning the movement; and writings by, and correspondence with, others working with Central American refugees.
Materials documenting Nicgorski’s relationship with the order of School Sisters of St. Francis (1970-1987) include a substantial number of records relating to the order’s support for the Sanctuary movement and for Nicgorski during her trial. Among these records are official letters of support from the order, private letters from individual members of the order, and a detailed media packet that carefully summarizes Nicgorski’s life, the circumstances that led Central Americans to seek refuge in the United States, the Sanctuary movement, and the Roman Catholic Church’s support for the movement. Materials documenting Nicgorski’s personal relationship to the order include her profession, personal papers, and materials relating to her 1987 separation from the order.
The Darlene Nicgorski papers, while documenting an important 20th century social movement, also have special contemporary relevance in a time when Arizona, the birthplace of the movement welcoming political refugees from Central America, is now at the heart of the heated debate on the problem of illegal immigration, and when the social activism of Roman Catholic women religious is being criticized by the church hierarchy. We thank Darlene Nicgorski for sharing the records of her experiences with us, and invite anyone interested in using the collection to sign on to Aeon, our new Special Collections Request System, and click on the “Register as a reader and make your Reading Room requests” button), to access the collection.