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Archives at The Museum of Flight

The Douglas Aircraft Company Records

Identifier: 1995-06-23-15
The Douglas Aircraft Company Records contain business records relating to the Douglas Aircraft Company from 1921-1945. The documents all relate to the business dealings of the Douglas Aircraft Company; the collection contains no documents relating to aircraft design. The collection consists of corporate documents, ledgers, and business correspondence relating to the three iterations of the Douglas Aircraft Company: The Davis-Douglas Company, the Douglas Company, and the Douglas Aircraft Company. Each iteration has its own series for the corresponding documents.

Series I, Davis-Douglas Company, contains only a few docments related to the company’s 1921 resolution to transfer all assets to the Douglas Company.

Series II, The Douglas Company records, contains administrative records including the company’s bylaws, board meeting minutes, time books, and employee rosters; legal contracts, notably ones with the U.S. Navy; and financial records. The time books contain employee information, such as pay rates and production tasks. In the financial records subseries, the folders of general financial statements include ledger sheets, notes, memorandums, and correspondence, some in relation to transactions with suppliers. The balance ledger primarily covers time under the Douglas Company but does include some information dating to the period after the company was reorganized as the Douglas Aircraft Company.

Series III, the Douglas Aircraft Company records, includes paperwork produced when The Douglas Company became the Douglas Aircraft Company, Inc. in 1929. This series is comprised of administrative records including documents pertaining to the company’s reorganization and correspondence; and financial records including balance sheets, related correspondence, and business ledgers relating to property, depreciation, and general business.


  • 1921-1945


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.


5.3 Cubic Feet (1 full-width legal box, 9 11.5x17.5" oversize boxes, 1 16.5x20.5" oversize box)


The Douglas Aircraft Company was a pioneer in early aviation and is best known for its DC-3 transport aircraft. The Douglas Aircraft Company Records contain administrative, financial, and legal records relating to the Douglas Aircraft Company from 1921-1945.

Historical Note: Douglas Aircraft Company

The Douglas Aircraft Company was a pioneer in early aviation and is best known for its DC-3 transport aircraft.

The Douglas Company was founded by Donald Douglas, Sr. on July 22, 1921 in Santa Monica, California. The company was originally part of the Davis-Douglas Company, but the partnership dissolved in 1921 when financial backer David R. Davis lost interest in the projects being completed by the company. This opened the door for the founding of The Douglas Company, after Donald Douglas secured the financial backing of several California businessmen for his new company.

The Douglas Company had early success, particularly after the Douglas World Cruiser completed the first circumnavigation of the globe by air in 1924. The company held many contracts with the United States Army Air Service and the United States Navy. In 1932, John K. Northrop rejoined Douglas Company, Inc., which he had been part of from 1923-1927. Northrop founded his own subsidiary at Douglas, called the Northrop Corporation (this separate subsidiary was later fully absorbed into Douglas Aircraft in 1937).

The Douglas Company grew by leaps and bounds in the 1920s, mainly thanks to military contracts, and soon needed to grow and change. This led to the reorganization of the company, which was completed on November 30, 1928 with the help of brokerage firms E. A. Pierce and Co. and Bancamerica Blaire Corp. The new company, Douglas Aircraft Company, Inc., bought out all of the shares of The Douglas Company and moved to new facilities at Clover Field in Santa Monica.

The Douglas Aircraft Company weathered the Depression well enough to expand into the passenger transport market during the 1930s. The company then made significant contributions to the war effort with its transport planes and bombers, such as the C-47 Skytrain, SBD Bomber, and the A-26 Invader. Its success during World War II placed them in a prime position to provide transport to the post-War world. The company contended well at first, but ultimately faltered in part because of the DC-8 jetliner's failure to compete with the Boeing 707.

The company was struggling with both its backlog and the ability to keep pace with its rivals, and the ultimate solution was the merger of The Douglas Aircraft Company and McDonnell Aircraft Corporation in 1967. McDonnell Douglas later merged with its rival Boeing in 1997. Boeing combined the Douglas Aircraft Company with the Boeing Commercial Airplanes division, ending more than 75 years of Douglas Aircraft Company history.


Francillon, Rene J. McDonnell Douglas Aircraft since 1920: Volume I. London: Putnam Aeronautical Books, 1995.

Maynard, Crosby. Flight Plan for Tomorrow: The Douglas Story, a Condensed History. Santa Monica: The Douglas Aircraft Company, 1966.


This collection has been organized into three series: I. The Davis-Douglas Company, II. The Douglas Company, and III. The Douglas Aircraft Company.

Within these three series, items are organized into subseries based on record type, including administrative, legal and financial records.

The Douglas Company records have three subseries: administrative records, legal contracts, and financial records. Administrative records are divided further by record type, into bylaws, minutes, employee information, and legal contracts. Items within these categories are arranged chronologically. The Douglas Aircraft Company records contain two subseries: administrative records and financial records. Items within these categories are arranged chronologically.

Custodial History

This collection came to the Museum of Flight as part of the Hatfield Collection donation from the Museum of Flying in Santa Monica, California, in 1995.


No further accruals are expected.

Related Materials

This collection represents a small part of the body of work produced by the Douglas Aircraft Company. The majority of the Douglas Aircraft Company records are held by the Boeing Corporate Archives.

Separated Materials

This collection originally came to the Museum with a set of library books. These books have been transferred to the library collection at The Museum of Flight.

Approximately 1400 tightly rolled drawings of Douglas and Davis-Douglas aircraft on vellum and on paper have been separated into their own collection (1995-06-23-15-Drawings); however, the drawings have not been processed and there is limited access to them.

For more information contact us.
Guide to the Douglas Aircraft Company Records
Completed - Level 4
L. Zaborowski, H. Kolesar
Description rules
Language of description
Edition statement
2nd edition

Revision Statements

  • 2019-11-20: The finding aid was brought up to current processing and cataloging standards.

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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