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Archives at The Museum of Flight

Wilbur D. Kennedy Collection

Identifier: 2014-06-04
The Wilbur D. Kennedy Collection contains materials dating from 1911-1944 primarily related to the World War I career of Wilbur D. Kennedy, a reconnaissance pilot for the 12th Aero Squadron (American Expeditionary Force). The collection includes a diary of Kennedy's preceding his time in the military; extensive personal correspondence, primarily letters to Carmelite Kennedy; identification cards; military service papers, orders and memos; financial materials; assorted ephemera, such as pamphlets and souvenirs received while in service, as well as postcards and clippings; Veteran's Administration papers; sixty-seven (67) loose photographs including aerial views, people and scenes in Germany; and oversized materials including a certificate, several issues of The Stars and Stripes newspaper, and photograph album. The large photograph album with six hundred five (605) images traces his time from training in Minnesota and Ohio to service abroad along the French-German border and includes significant views of aircraft, artillery, and wartime scenes.

Please note the photograph album contains some graphic images of wartime casualties.


  • circa 1911-1944 (bulk dates 1911-1925)
  • Majority of material found within 1911 - 1925


Language of Materials

Some materials in French. The rest of the materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research and is accessible in the Dahlberg Research Center by appointment. For more information contact us.

Conditions Governing Use

The Museum of Flight (TMOF) Archives is the owner of the physical materials in the archives and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from TMOF archives before any publication use. TMOF does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.


1.75 Cubic Feet (2 full-width legal size document box and 1 oversize flat box)


Wilbur D. Kennedy, 1893-1943, was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and served as a pilot in the 12th Aero Squadron during World War I. Collection contains photographs, correspondence, military records, and other assorted materials relating to his World War I service.

Biographical Note: Wilbur D. Kennedy

Wilbur D. Kennedy was born August 6, 1893 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa to Mary and James Kennedy.

Wilbur D. Kennedy originally enlisted in the infantry on May 14, 1917 at Ft. Snelling, Minnesota. He was sent to aviation ground school at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio and graduated in August. Kennedy was assigned to the 12th Aero Squadron of the Signal Reserve Corps Aviation Section as a 1st Lieutenant in late 1917 and shipped out to Europe shortly thereafter. The 12th Aero Squadron participated in the second battle of the Marne in July 1918. After the war, Kennedy remained in the area of the French and German border. He was commissioned a temporary captain in April 1919. Kennedy was sent home in June and honorably discharged, still a captain, in July.

After his return, Kennedy owned a women's clothing store in Champaign, Illinois. He died November 27, 1943.

Biographical information derived from collection materials.
Biographical Note: Carmelite Miller Kennedy Carmelite "Carl" Miller was Wilbur Kennedy's sweetheart whom he wrote to often while he was serving overseas in World War I. In June 1920, a year after Wilbur returned to the U.S., he and Carmelite were married and remained together until Wilbur's passing in 1943. No further information is known.

Biographical information derived from collection materials.

Accruals Note

No further accruals are expected.

Existence and Location of Copies

Materials from this collection have been digitized and are available at The Museum of Flight Digital Collections.

Related Archival Materials at Other Institutions

The following issues of Collier's Weekly are mentioned in Kennedy's correspondence and are available online:
  • Volume 61, April 6, 1918;view=1up;seq=131;size=125 , section 34-86

  • Volume 61, April 12, 1918;view=1up;seq=174;size=125 , section 45-12
Related Archival Materials at the Museum of Flight Nancy Harkness Collection of World War I Photograph Albums. Three albums of World War I photographs depicting various U.S. Air Service squadrons stationed along the French-German border during and after the war, including Kennedy's squadron, the 12th. Many of the images in the Kennedy and Harkness collections are the same or from a slightly different angle; there is a possibility that the photographs were taken and/or curated by the same person.

Separated Materials

The following objects have been separated from the archival component of this collection and are kept in Objects storage:

  • Uniform (jacket and pants) for American Expeditionary Forces
  • One Sam Browne belt
  • Two military pins
  • Two Army Air Service insignia pins
  • One Victory medal
  • One leather puttee (military legwrap)
  • Three flight helmets
  • One pair of flight goggles
  • One map distance converter
  • One identification bracelet
  • One tie tack
Guide to the Wilbur D. Kennedy Collection
Completed - Level 4
A. Demeter and J. Parent
2017, 2019
Description rules
Language of description
Processing, cataloging and digitization of this collection was made possible by a Council on Libraries and Information Resources (CLIR) "Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives" grant.
Edition statement
2nd Edition

Revision Statements

  • November 2018: Finding aid migrated to ArchivesSpace.
  • July 2019: Finding aid revised to reflect addendum materials.

Repository Details

Part of the The Museum of Flight Archives Repository

9404 East Marginal Way South
Seattle Washington 98108-4097

The Museum of Flight | 9404 E. Marginal Way South | Seattle WA 98108-4097 | 206-764-5874
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