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Archives at The Museum of Flight

The Boeing Story Exhibit Collection

Identifier: 2022-00-00-17
The Boeing Story Exhibit Collection consists of archival items acquired by the Museum of Flight for use in the "The Boeing Story: 1916-1958" exhibit, on permanent display in the Museum's Red Barn. This collection only represents archival items purchased for use in the exhibit; the exhibit also includes artifacts and library materials as well as items from other accessions which are not included in this collection.

The collection is organized by theme following the layout of the exhibit. Materials include printed ephemera, photographic postcards, and airmail envelopes. William Boeing's early years are represented with items related to Yale University, where he studied. The early development of the Boeing Company is placed in context of Seattle, Washington in the early 20th century with brochures and postcards and an early company shop tag. Wong Tsoo (an associate of William Boeing and Conrad Westervedlt) and aviation in China is represented with an airmail envelope from the China National Airmail Corporation. An airmail envelope also represents early aviation. There is some ephemera related to food and gasoline rationing during World War II.


  • 1901-1937

Language of Materials

One item (CNAC airmail envelope) is partially in Chinese. All other items are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research although many items are on display in the Museum's galleries. Items not on display are accessible in the Dahlberg Research Center by appointment. Digital surrogates are available for items on exhibit. 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 Cubic Feet (1 letter-size half-width document box)

Biographical Note: William E. Boeing

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." Last modified October 17, 2019.

Physical Location

Many items are on display in the Boeing Story exhibit in the Red Barn Galleries at the Museum of Flight.

Custodial History

The items in this collected were purchased from various sources.


Accruals are expected. Many items currently on display have not yet been added to the finding aid but will be added in the future as the galleries are refreshed and items removed from display.

Processing Information

This collection is only partially processed and the finding aid only represents a small portion of the archival items on display in the exhibit. In the future, as the galleries are refreshed and items removed from display, additional materials will be added to the finding aid.
Guide to the Boeing Story Exhibit Collection
Completed - Level 1
N. Davis
2022; 2024
Description rules
Language of description
Edition statement
2nd edition

Revision Statements

  • 2024-01-11: World War II materials added to collection.

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