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Archives at The Museum of Flight

Herman Butler Collection

Identifier: 1985-12-27-A
The Herman Butler Collection contains correspondence, photographs, and ephemera relating to the World War I career of Herman Butler. Letters and postcards from Butler to his aunt and uncle along with a collection of black and white photographs trace his wartime activities from training in California to travel across the country to New York, shipping out to England, service in France, and postwar service in Virginia. Additional materials include military and wartime ephemera, the bulk of which is from the U.S.A. School of Aerial Photography in Langley Field, Virginia.


  • Majority of material found within circa 1917-1940s ( dates 1917-1920)
  • Majority of material found within 1917 - 1920


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.


0.2 Cubic Feet (1 half width letter size document box)


Herman Butler, originally of Belleville, Washington, served as a pilot during World War I and after with the U.S.A. School of Aerial Photography at Langley Field. The collection contains materials relating to the Butler's wartime and postwar service.

Biographical Note

Herman Butler was born circa 1899. He was the adopted son of his uncle Curtis N. and aunt Lela A. Butler of Belleville, Washington. Curtis Butler was a partner with his two brothers in the Butler Brothers Lumber and Shingle Mill in the first part of the 20th century.

Herman Butler enlisted in February 1917 and trained at the Signal Corps Aviation School at the North Island base near San Diego, California. In September he was transferred to the 135th Aero Squadron, and traveled to Garden City, New York in November. He arrived in Europe in early 1918 and for unknown reasons (possibly a training injury) was confined to a convalescent hospital in Mablethorpe, England in May 1918. He was sent to the front in France just in time to participate in the battle at St. Mihiel. He remained in Europe after the armistice to travel, returning to the United States some time around the end of 1919. He was stationed at the United States Army School of Aerial Photography at Langley Field, Virginia in 1919-1920.

On February 12, 1924, Butler was killed in a logging accident in Whatcom County, Washington.

Sources and further reading:

Biography derived from donor notes, collection materials, and

Lawrence L. Smart, The hawks that guided the guns. Privately printed, circa 1968.


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 The Museum of Flight

Colin Hunter Collection of U.S.A. Aerial Photography School Photograph Albums. This World War I-era collection also contains materials relating to another U.S.A. School of Aerial Photography in Rochester, New York.

Separated Materials

The following item has been separated from the archival component of this collection to be kept in Objects storage:

  • One (1) blue star flag
Guide to the Herman Butler Collection
Completed - Level 4
A. Demeter
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 2020: Updated bio note and related agents.

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
Contact us with a research request