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Archives at The Museum of Flight

Wilhelm Böing letters

 Collection — Box: Assorted rare collections, Box 1, Folder: 1-6
Identifier: 2018-00-00-154
The collection contains six handwritten letters ranging from February 26, 1869 to April 18, 1883 between William E. Boeing, Sr. (WEB) and his father, Wilhelm Böing. It is not always clear who is writing to whom in the letters, since father and son shared the same name. Additionally, not all of the letters have accompanying envelopes which could provide clarification based on the address. The letters are in German and have not been translated.


  • 1869-1883


Language of Materials

All materials are in German.

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are very fragile and may not be handled by researchers. Digitized versions are available. 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.


0.1 Cubic Feet ( 6 letter-sized file folders)

Biographical Note: Wilhelm Böing

Wilhelm Böing was the father of William Edward Boeing (WEB), Sr., founder of the Boeing Company. Born in the North Rhine-Westphalia area of Germany on May 3, 1846,. Böing was a veteran of the Austro-Prussian War. He immigrated to the United States in 1868 settling in Detroit, Michigan, and started working as a laborer. He soon was hired by Karl Ortmann, a local lumberman and immigrant from Vienna.

Böing married Ortmann's daughter, Marie, on December 25, 1880 and they had two children, William and Caroline. He Anglicized his name to William Boeing. He built his fortune from land, timber, and mineral rights on lands in Minnesota doing very well financially and able to help fund Detroit's first art museum in 1883.

Boeing died from influenza circa 1889-1890 (sources differ) at the age of 42, leaving behind his wife Marie (Ortmann) Boeing and their children.


Wikipedia, and
Biographical Note: William E. Boeing, Sr. William E. Boeing was an aviation pioneer who founded The Boeing Company in 1916.

William Edward Boeing, Sr. was born in Detroit, Michigan on October 1, 1881 to Marie Ortmann and Wilhelm Böing. After leaving Yale University in 1903, Boeing relocated to Washington state to go into the lumber business. In 1909, he saw a manned flying machine for the first time and a new interest was born. Boeing took flying lessons from Glenn Martin at the Martin Flying School in Los Angeles, California and bought a Martin aircraft. His interest grew and, in partnership with his friend, U.S. Navy Commander George Conrad "G.C." Westervelt, he decided to build an aircraft. This resulted in the B & W biplane seaplane, also known as the Boeing Model 1, which was such a success that Boeing decided to go into the aircraft business.

He purchased Heath Shipyard along the Duwamish River in Seattle, Washington, later to be known as the "Red Barn" or Boeing Plant 1, and began manufacturing aircraft. During World War I, Boeing Airplane Company built 50 planes for the United States Navy. After World War I, Boeing earned contracts to supply air mail service. Air mail service grew and later added passenger service, which evolved into United Airlines.

In 1929, Boeing helped form United Aircraft and Transport Corporation, which bought several small airlines and merged them into United Air Lines. In 1934, due to the Air Mail Act and post-Depresson legislation that required the dispersion of the corporation, Boeing sold his interests in the Boeing Airplane Company but continued to work on other business ventures, spending most of his time involved in property development and the breeding of thoroughbred race horses.

In 1921, Boeing married Bertha Marie Potter Paschall (1891-1977). A year later, the couple had their son, William E. Boeing, Jr. (1922-2015). William E. Boeing, Sr. remained in the Seattle, Washington area until his death on September 28, 1956.

Sources and Further Reading:

Boeing. "Executive Biography of William E. Boeing." Accessed October 23, 2019.

Wikipedia. "William E. Boeing." Accessed October 17, 2019.

Custodial History

The letters were given to Achim Scheuneurt by Bill Boeing, Jr. Scheunert donated the letters to the Museum in 2009.


No further accruals are expected.

Existence and Location of Copies

Digitized versions are available. For more information contact us.

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

Related Materials at The Museum of Flight

Additional collections related to the Boeing family with an online finding aid:

The following collections also relate to the Boeing family, but are not currently accessible online. Please contact us for more details.

  • Peter M. Wood Film Collection (Accession 2004-07-28). Film collection comprised of six rolls of 16mm film, one roll contains footage of a party with Bill Boeing, Sr.; seven rolls of 35mm film, end of film has footage of Bill Boeing, Sr. with military and PW-9.
  • Jack Towern Letter to Bertha Boeing (Accession 2014-00-00-4). Handwritten letter from Jack Towern [?] to Bertha Boeing, May 14, 1929. Discusses personal news.
  • Jerry MacDonald Collection of Boeing Correspondence (Accession 1987-08-25). Collection consists of three letters to the MacDonald's and a number of Boeing family holiday cards from 1925-1939 as well as negatives of the card artwork.
Guide to the Wilhelm Böing letters
Completed - Level 2
Description rules
Language of description
Edition statement
1st edition

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