Skip to main content

Archives at The Museum of Flight

Marc A. Lagen World War I Collection

Identifier: 1996-11-18
The Marc Lagen World War I Collection contains military documents, photographs, correspondence, and ephemera relating to the military service of Captain Marc Aloysius Lagen in the Balloon Section of the U.S. Air Service during the war. The collection is organized into two series: photographs and textual materials.

Photographs include many aerial reconnaissance images taken by both French and American airmen, as well as portraits and candid views of soldiers and officers in France, aircraft, and war ruins. Other materials include a number of documents related to post-war issues including the return of supplies and a claim for lost property from a barracks fire, a notebook from Lagen's training, some personal correspondence, financial records, and ephemera. Please note that some of the items in Box One, Folders 3 and 5 contain graphic images of wartime casualties.

In series II, a substantial number of military orders, memos, and other communications trace Lagen's travels and transitions from the National Guard and a brief stint on the Mexican border to his commission with the Signal Corps and assignment to the front in France. The papers reflect Lagen's simultaneous work with the French and American militaries.


  • 1914-1948
  • Majority of material found within 1918-1919


Language of Materials

A few items are in French. All other materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research and is accessible in the Dahlberg Research Center by appointment. NItrate negatives are restricted from use; digital copies should be referenced instead. 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.


1.5 Cubic Feet (1 full width letter size document box, 2 full width legal size document boxes, and 1 oversize folder)


Marc Aloysius Lagen (1882-1946), originally from Dubuque, Iowa, was a theatrical manager who served as Captain in the Balloon Section of the U.S. Army Air Service during World War I. The collection contains documents, photographs, correspondence, and ephemera relating to his World War I career.

Biographical Note

Marc Lagen served as a World War I Balloon Observer (1918-1919) for three tours, with both the French Army and the American Air Service. The role of the observer was often a dangerous one, since the tethered balloons filled with highly flammable gas were an easy - and tempting - target for German pilots.

Marc Aloysius Lagen was born in Dubuque, Iowa, July 11, 1882. He enlisted in the National Guard prior to the U.S. entry into World War I and was briefly stationed at the Mexican border in 1916. In 1917, he was discharged from the National Guard in order to join the Army, and in November he accepted a commission as First Lieutenant in the Air Service, Signal Officers' Reserve Corps. He arrived in France in late December and served with the French 54th Aerostiers for several months before his assignment to the U.S. Air Service's Third Balloon Section. He was promoted to captain in late October 1918 shortly before the armistice, and continued in the Balloon Service post-war for several more months before returning home in March 1919.

Before the war as well as after, Lagen was a theatrical manager in New York, managing such artists as “Lada” (stage name of Emily Schupp), an interpretive dancer. Schupp was the daughter of William Schupp and Emily Kugler Schupp, born May 24, 1889. She and Marc Lagen were married on July 7, 1922; their child, William, was born in July 1923. Shortly thereafter the family moved to Seattle, where Marc became the manager of his father-in-law's whaling company. Lagen was a founding member of the Meydenbauer Bay Yacht Club. He died in 1946.


Biography derived from collection materials.

Location Note

The following items are on display in the World War I Gallery of the Personal Courage Wing (PCW): one (1) black and white photo postcard of Marc Lagen; and one (1) membership identification card, American Balloon Corps Veterans.

Custodial History

The collection was donated to the museum by Marc Lagen's son, William S. Lagen.


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

The following collections also relate to balloon companies in World War I:

Samuel E. White Collection. Samuel Elbert White served in various balloon companies of the U.S. Army Air Service during World War I. The collection documents his training in the United States and his service overseas.

James George Burton Photographs. Two panoramic photographs relating to the Balloon School at Ross Field, Arcadia, California.
Related Archival Materials at Other Institutions The University of Washington holds several collections relating to the Lagen family:

William S. Lagen Papers, 1894-2002 (Collection No. 2292). Special Collections, University of Washington Libraries. Correspondence, financial records, journals, ledgers, catch records, reports and blueprints relating to the Lagen family's whaling companies. Also includes family letters and photographs, diaries, memorabilia, publications and other items about whaling; related materials of the Schupp and Lagen families and their business interests; business records of William S. Lagen in Akutan, Alaska and in the Seattle area; and interviews with W. S. Lagen. A finding aid for the collection is available here:

William Lagen Family Home Movies, 1925-1962 (Collection No. PH1207). Special Collections, University of Washington Libraries. The films document various family events and vacations, and comprise the bulk of the collection, with Alaska featuring prominently as a leisure and business destination for the Lagens. A finding aid for the collection is available here:

Separated Materials

The following items have been separated from the archival component of this collection and are kept in Objects storage:
  • Uniform pants for 1st Army Air Service

  • One (1) Sam Browne belt

The following items are currently on display in the World War I Gallery of the Personal Courage Wing:

  • Uniform jacket for 1st Army Air Service
  • Two (2) bronze Air Service insignia pins [still on jacket collar]
  • Two (2) U.S. Army officer insignia pins [still on jacket]
  • Two (2) identification tags on a string
  • One (1) Identification bracelet
  • One (1) document case made from balloon skin

The following books have been transferred to the library:
  • The Plattsburger, 1917
  • The Balloon Buster, 1928
Guide to the Marc A. Lagen World War I Collection
Completed - Level 4
L. Zaborowski and A. Demeter
Description rules
Language of description
Edition statement
4th Edition

Revision Statements

  • 2023 June: Two books were transferred to the library; collection title updated

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