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Archives at The Museum of Flight

William E. Boeing Sr. Papers

Identifier: 2005-10-06-B
The William E. Boeing, Sr. Papers are comprised of visual and textual materials related to the personal life and career of William E. Boeing, Sr. (WEB). The collection holds textual materials, such as correspondence and philately, business-related materials, and clippings and ephemera as well as photographs and illustrations, circa 1783-2008. Major areas of interest include family photographs and extensive personal and business-related correspondence, especially during the founding of The Boeing Company, and several rare pieces of aerophilately. In most instances, materials have been collected by William E. Boeing, Sr. although a few items were likely gathered by family members after his death.

The collection has been arranged into two series, visual materials and textual materials, which have been further arranged into subseries. Materials are arranged chronologically within subseries. See the Note on Arrangement for more details.

Series I, Visual materials, circa 1783-1975, consists of three subseries: photographs, balloon illustrations, and artwork. The photographs subseries includes approximately eighty photographic images and includes primarily vintage prints, two cartes-de-visites (card photographs), and a few modern reprints. It is further divided into six subseries: family and personal, lumber industry, aircraft and aircraft-related, boats (yachts), people, and Alaska hunting expedition. Sizes vary from 3x5" to 11x17". Many photographs include brief captions providing contextual information such as name, date, and/or location. Some duplication occurs.

The family and personal subseries, circa 1868-1955, includes two cartes-de-visite photographs depicting Wilhelm and Marie Boeing, WEB's parents; black-and-white photographs of WEB and family members, such as his sister Caroline and his Uncle Rudie; casual snapshots and portraits of WEB; a black-and-white photograph of a snow-covered "Aldarra," WEB's Seattle home; and portraits of WEB's racehorses, including "Porter's Mite."

The lumber industry subseries, circa 1903-1915, includes black-and-white photographs of WEB and unidentified men in various logging and lumber yards.

Within the aircraft and aircraft-related subseries, circa 1909-1940s, are black-and-white photographs of WEB's Martin Seaplane in the air, on the water, and in the hangar. WEB is often in many of these images. There are also assorted images of a tent hangar on Lake Washington; two images including Eddie Hubbard with Boeing Model C; various images of other aircraft, including a Loening C2, Boeing P-12, Boeing Model 200 Monomail, and Boeing Model 204A; and WEB's Douglas DC-5 "Rover," which includes an inscription from Donald W. Douglas.

The boats (yachts) subseries, circa 1917-1930s, is comprised of a handful of black-and-white pictures of yachts on the water, including WEB's "Taconite." WEB is included in two of the images in this series.

Included in the people subseries, 1915-circa 1950s, is a black-and-white photograph of Floyd Smith, a portrait of Clairmont "Claire" L. Egtvedt inscribed to Bertha and WEB, and two images with unidentified men, likely related to aviation. One of the images shows two men reading a [teletype?] tape in what looks to be a navigational room and the other image shows a man in front of a radio control panel.

The Alaska hunting expedition subseries, circa 1916-1920, contains black-and-white photographs from a trip that WEB had planned to attend but did not; it is unknown who took the photographs. In Box Two, Folder 56 a letter, dated 1916, mentions a "trip to the Arctic that he [WEB] will likely forego," which may be referring to the trip where the photographs were taken. Note that some images depict graphic scenes, including dead animals and burials. Most of the images depict hunting scenes, such as walrus and polar bear kills, animal skins drying on a hillside, and a group of people posing with hunting implements. There are also a few images of Alaska Natives, as well as a wooden structure and a shrouded body on wooden poles, likely as part of a funeral.

In addition to the photographs there are a set of balloon illustrations, circa 1783-1850s, that contain thirteen prints of varying types, including engravings, etchings, and letterpress prints. It is likely that these were collected by WEB. Most have two copies. Several have tags and/or captions which provide context. The images depict early aviation balloons in various scenes, such as in flight over cities and landscapes and in ascent or descent status. The dates given in the inventory reflect the dates of the events illustrated, not necessarily the dates the prints were made. Also present are a few related documents. One piece of artwork, is also present: a painted certificate commemorating the resolution to name Boeing Field after WEB from June 20, 1928.

Series II, Textual materials, 1910-2008, is comprised of three sub-series: correspondence and philately, business-related materials, and clippings and ephemera. The correspondence and philately subseries (circa 1910-1963, bulk dates 1910-1929) is by far the largest and holds assorted correspondence in the form of letters and telegrams, the bulk of which is correspondence between WEB and G.C. Westervelt, particularly during the early years of Boeing Aircraft Company. Note that Westervelt's handwriting is quite difficult to read.

Virtually none of the correspondence is accompanied by the original envelope and none include original enclosed materials. Many letters sent on behalf of WEB, when out of town, include an illegible signature but are likely by Edgar Gott based on replies to these letters. Major topics include the company's early aircraft and searches for pilots, contracts with the military, and partnership with University of Washington in regard to the construction and use of a wind tunnel. Additionally, the birth of air mail is reflected in correspondence and by the many pieces of aerophilately, 1918-1953. This material is primarily in the form of air mail covers [envelopes], although there are a couple of airgrams and postcards as well. First flights, first issues, and commemorative pieces form the bulk of the philatelic material. Some air mail covers include air mail stamps, although not all do. Most of the correspondence with the air mail pieces is simply a quick note for the sake of creating a collectible cover.

The business-related materials subseries, 1917-circa 1965, is a relatively small set of items consisting of documents created by The Boeing Company at various points, including meeting minutes, company news briefs, and an aircraft model chronology sheet. There is also a list of Boeing Company promotional films available for loan to outside agencies. Note that the company name changed slightly over time and this is reflected in folder titles. Some of the material is referenced in the correspondence sub-series.

Lastly, the clippings and ephemera subseries, 1910-2008, holds original and photocopied newspaper clippings from an assortment of newspapers, including the Seattle Times,Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and the Wall Street Journal, among others. Topics include aviation in general, Boeing Company, and WEB. Other materials include a Boeing Air Transport passenger ticket, a 1927 program reception booklet for Charles Lindbergh, a blank "Nookey ration card," and a November 1956 leather-bound issue of Boeing magazine with a memorial article about WEB. Additionally, there is a photocopy of a map which depicts the Boeing family homestead in Germany and an undated caricature of WEB flying a biplane.


  • circa 1783-2008
  • Majority of material found within 1900s-1930s


Language of Materials

The Boeing family homestead maps are in German, some illustration captions are in French, and one airline timetable is in Chinese. Several philatelic pieces include other languages such as French, German, Thai, and Russian. 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. 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.


2.85 Cubic Feet (1 full-width letter size document box, 3 full-width legal size document boxes, and 1 flat box )


William E. Boeing, Sr. (1881-1956) was an aviation pioneer and founded The Boeing Company in 1916. The collection holds textual materials, such as correspondence, philately, business-related materials, clippings, and ephemera, as well as photographs and illustrations related to his personal and business life, circa 1783-2008. Major areas of interest include family photographs and extensive personal and business-related correspondence.

Biographical Note: William E. Boeing, Sr.

William E. "Bill" 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. "Bill" Boeing, Jr. (1922-2015). Bill 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.

Note on Arrangement

  • Series I: Visual materials, circa 1783-1975
    • Subseries A: Photographs, circa 1868-1955
      • Subseries: Family and personal, circa 1868-1955
      • Subseries: Lumber industry, circa 1903-1915
      • Subseries: Aircraft and aircraft-related, circa 1909-1940s
      • Subseries: Boats (yachts), circa 1917-1930s
      • Subseries: People, 1915-circa 1950s
      • Subseries: Alaska hunting expedition, circa 1916-1920
    • Subseries B: Balloon illustrations, circa 1783-1850s, 1975
  • Series II: Textual materials, 1910-2008
    • Subseries: Correspondence and philately, circa 1910s-1963
    • Subseries: Business-related materials, 1917-circa 1965
    • Subseries: Clippings and ephemera, 1910-2008, undated

Custodial History

The collection was donated to The Museum of Flight in 2005 by Boeing's son, Bill Boeing, Jr.


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 Materials at The Museum of Flight

Wilhelm Boing (Boeing) Letters (Accession 2018-00-00-154). Small collection of six letters; one from Wilhelm Boeing, Sr. to Wilhelm Boeing, Jr.; the other five from Wilhelm Boeing, Jr. to Boeing, Sr.

Bertha Boeing Application for Home-Canning Sugar Allowance (Accession 2014-00-00-05). Collection consists of an "Application for Home-Canning Sugar Allowance" for 60 pounds of sugar from Bertha Boeing on behalf of William Boeing and William Boeing, Jr., dated July 22, 1944. A no. 37 sugar war ration stamp is applied next to each family member's name. The application is signed by Bertha Boeing.

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.

Prentice Arthur Kusabs Boeing B & W (Model 1) photographs (Accession 2017-02-05A). Collection is comprised of 23 black-and-white photographs of the Boeing B & W (Model 1). The images were taken by Prentice Arthur Kusabs, circa 1919, and depict the two Boeing Model 1 aircraft that were sold to the Walsh Brothers' New Zealand Flying School.

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.

For more information on additional collections that relate to the Boeing family, please contact us.

Separated Materials

The following material has been separated from the archival component and is kept in the Library:

  • Aero Club of America Bulletin, multiple issues from 1915-1916, includes issue number 69-70, 72-74, 76-79, 83, 90-92, 94-97, 103, 106, 114, 119, 124-125, 133, 136, 154, 157, 179, 208

Additionally, the following items are kept in Objects storage:

  • Flight helmet, circa 1919
  • Canvas mailbag from first international airmail, 1919

  • Bookmark from the silk fabric of Explorer II balloon, signed by Captain A.W. Stevens

Processing Information

Photographs, some fragile textual materials, and smaller ephemera, such as membership cards, have been sleeved. Some items have been removed from frames for preservation reasons. Large items have been unfolded and original newspaper clippings have been copied onto acid-free paper.
Guide to the William E. Boeing Sr. Papers
Completed - Level 4
A. Enders, J. Parent
2014, 2019
Description rules
Language of description
Edition statement
4th Edition

Revision Statements

  • 2021 August: Two documents on display in Red Barn were removed from exhibit and returned to collection
  • 2022 April: Boeing Field resolution removed from frame and transferred from objects collection to archives.

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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