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Descriptive Finding Guide for Commander Henry James White Personal Papers SDASM.SC.0015
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Collection Details
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  • Biographical/Historical note
  • Conditions Governing Access note
  • Conditions Governing Use note
  • Scope and Contents note
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition note
  • Preferred Citation note
  • Related Archival Materials note

  • Title: Henry James White Personal Papers
    Identifier/Call Number: SDASM.SC.0015
    Contributing Institution: San Diego Air and Space Museum Library and Archives
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 0.58 Cubic feet 13” x 15.5 x 5"
    Date (bulk): Bulk, 1939-1953
    Date (inclusive): 1892-1962
    Abstract: Commander Henry James White (1892-1962) was a naval aviator, linguist, translator, inventor, flight instructor and Commander of Naval Air Station Ream Field.
    Language of Materials note: English
    creator: White, Henry J., 1892-1962

    Biographical/Historical note

    He was born on October 7, 1892 in Catonsville, MD. He was educated at St. George’s school in Newport, RI. Appointed to the Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, he qualified as a pilot at just 19 years of age. His earliest license was signed by Orville Wright. He served in the Navy from 1916 to 1920 and again from 1940 to 1945. He was also a United States Naval seaplane pilot. He instructed the famed Charles Lindbergh in seaplane operations. He was the test pilot for Sikorsky’s giant amphibian which weighed about 9,000 pounds. He set an unofficial altitude record with passenger load when he flew to a height of 18,500 feet with nine people on board. He was also the test pilot for the self-landing plane, which was a success in his demonstrations to the public.
    Commander White was a linguist and served as a Naval Air Attache in Berlin in the 1940’s. He last served the military as Commander of Ream Field in San Diego, California. He was the translator for Dr. Wernher von Braun for the books “The Mars Project” and “Life on Mars” and wrote fluently in German to Dr. von Braun in many of his letters. His inventions included devices for improvement of spark plugs and propellers.
    Commander White was a salesman and flight instructor for Lockheed, Mack Truck and Socony Vacuum and as a test pilot and sales manager for the Sikorsky Company. He retired in 1945.
    Commander White died on May 31, 1962, and was survived by his wife, Kathleen, son Henry J. White, Jr., brother Walter W. White, and a sister Mrs. Norman Schaff.

    Conditions Governing Access note

    The collection is open to researchers by appointment.

    Conditions Governing Use note

    Some copyright may be reserved. Consult with the library director for more information.

    Scope and Contents note

    One box, 13” x 15.5 x 5”, of Commander Henry J. White includes the personal and business letters written in both English and German. Also included are certificates and civilian identification such as a driver’s license, pilot’s licenses, mechanics licenses and National Aeronautical Association badges as well as various manuscripts and a scrapbook. There are also newspaper clippings and maps in written in German, English, and Spanish.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition note

    The materials in this Collection were donated to the San Diego Air and Space Museum.

    Preferred Citation note

    [Item], [Filing Unit], [Series Title], [Subgroups], [Record Group Title and Number], [Repository “San Diego Air & Space Museum Library & Archives”]

    Related Archival Materials note

    Naval Air Stations Subject Files.
    Selected digitized images from this collection on Flickr.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Lindbergh, Charles A. (Charles Augustus), 1902-1974
    Sikorsky, Igor Ivan, 1889-1972
    von Braum, Wernher, 1912-1977
    Lockheed Aircraft
    Ream Field (NAS Imperial Beach)
    Sikorsky helicopters