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Archives at The Museum of Flight

James D. Griffin Photograph Collection

Identifier: 2015-08-25
The James D. Griffin Photograph Collection documents Douglas Aircraft Company (DAC) aircraft manufactured during the 1910s-1970s. The collection contains five hundred and ninety-six (596) photographs, likely collected and notated by Griffin, featuring primarily DAC aircraft models but also, to a lesser extent, other manufacturer aircraft models: Aero Spacelines, Boeing, Consolidated, and Northrop.

Aircraft are shown in flight and on the ground, as well as in production at DAC plants. Photographs also feature aircraft interiors (cabins, cockpits, and instrumental panels), a small number of crashes, and DAC production facilities. Employees are also depicted, including women working on the aircraft assembly line. Some photographs show documents or items, including Donald Douglas' appointment to Assistant in Aeronautical Engineering from MIT and DAC airline partner service pins. A few images depict non-Douglas related happenings, such as a 1941 labor strike at North American Aviation, the Graf Zeppelin, and a 1909 Bleriot airplane on display.

Notable people include D.W. Douglas, Donald Douglas Jr., William Douglas, John K. Northrop, as well as managers, test pilots, and engineers for Douglas Aircraft Company (DAC) and Northrop, some of who are identified on the photographs. Notable locations include the Douglas plants in El Segundo, Santa Monica, and Long Beach (California) and Tulsa (Oklahoma).

The majority of photographs have typed captions on front of image, identifying specific aircraft models, dates of production, people, and locations. Some captions provide additional background on the aircraft including who the airplane was made for and how many were made. Many photographs have handwritten notes on front and/or back, DAC official stamps and/or numbers. There are some duplicate images.

The collection also includes a small amount of textual documentation: newspaper clippings related to Douglas Aircraft Company; obituaries for both Donald Douglas and John Northrop; several issues of Yesteryear, a feature column written by Bob Williams that discusses DAC models; booklets relating to DAC organization and aircraft; and several photocopied documents that include a letter suggesting a Douglas library and museum, an announcement for the Douglas library and museum, and photographs of unidentified people.


  • circa 1910s-1970s
  • Majority of material found within ( dates 1920s-1950s)


Language of Materials

All 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.


2.03 Cubic Feet (4 full-width legal-size document boxes and 1 oversize folder)


James D. Griffin was an engineer for McDonnell Douglas Corporation. The collection contains five hundred and ninety-six (596) photographs, likely collected and notated by Griffin, featuring primarily Douglas Aircraft Company airplanes manufactured during the 1910s-1970s but also, to a lesser extent, other manufacturer models; including Aero Spacelines, Boeing, Consolidated, and Northrop. There is also a small amount of clippings, newsletters, and articles.

Historical Note: Douglas Aircraft Company

Douglas Aircraft Company (DAC) was founded in 1921 in southern California by Donald Wills Douglas. The first large production plant was established at Clover Field in Santa Monica, California. In 1931, Douglas joined with John "Jack" K. Northrop to found Northrop Corporation, located in El Segundo, California, which produced several successful designs, including the Northrop Gamma and Northrop Delta. However, the corporation was dissolved in 1937 by Douglas due to difficulties and the plant became the El Segundo Division of Douglas Aircraft. Northrop later re-established the Northrop Corporation.

At the height of DAC's production during World War II, Douglas operated six large aircraft production facilities, including the Clover Field (Santa Monica) plant, Douglas El Segundo (California), Douglas Long Beach (California), Douglas Tulsa (Oklahoma), Douglas Oklahoma City (Oklahoma), and Douglas Chicago (Illinois). DAC also teamed with Boeing to produce the B-17 Flying Fortress. After the war, Douglas built another Boeing design under license, the B-47 Stratojet turbojet-powered bomber.

Post-war, DAC suffered with an end to government aircraft orders, but continued to develop new aircraft, including the Douglas DC-6 and then the more "jet age" style Douglas F4D-1 (F-6A) Skyray in 1951. Also in the 1950's, DAC entered into the missile business. In 1967, struggling to meet demand, DAC merged with McDonnell Aircraft to form McDonnell Douglas (MD). In 1997, MD merged with Boeing, essentially putting an end to Douglas Aircraft Company.

Sources and Further Reading:

Stelpflug, Steve. 1995. McDonnell Douglas Douglas Aircraft Company 1st 75 Years. Long Beach: South Coast Publishing, Inc.
Biographical Note: James D. Griffin James D. Griffin was hired as an engineer for Douglas Aircraft Company in 1942 and worked at the El Segundo, California plant. No further information is known.


Upon acquistion by The Museum of Flight the James D. Griffin Photographs had no discernible original order; roughly half of the photographs were loose and half were housed in plastic binders. The binders were disassembled for preservation reasons and all photographs were sleeved in protective enclosures. The collection was then arranged by aircraft manufacturer, then by model name as listed in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (NASM) Directory of Airplanes: Their Designers and Manufacturers.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was donated by Michael A. Shaw, a friend of a relative to James D. Griffin.


No further accruals are expected.

Related Archival Materials at Other Institutions: The Museum of Flying

Originally established as the Douglas Museum and Library in 1974, the Museum of Flying is located in San Diego, California. The collection consists primarily of artifacts and the ephemera of Donald Wills Douglas Sr., the Founder and President of the Douglas Aircraft Company, and many vintage aircraft with an emphasis on World War II fighter aircraft.

Related Archival Materials at The Museum of Flight The following extensive collections at The Museum of Flight also contain photographs of various manufacturers and their aircraft:

Norm Taylor Photographs Collection.

Peter M. Bowers Collection.

General Aircraft Files.

Separated Materials

The following item has been removed from the archival component and is kept in the Library:

- Army Air Forces. 1945. Pilot's Flight Operating Instructions for Army Models B-24G, H, J, L and M, Navy Model PB4Y-1, British Model Liberator GRVI and BVI Airplanes.


Guide to the James D. Griffin Photograph Collection
Completed - Level 3
J. Parent
Description rules
Language of description
Edition statement
1st Edition

Revision Statements

  • December 2018: Finding aid migrated to ArchivesSpace.

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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