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A guide to the Mary Janislawski papers, 1908-2005
HDC1649 (SAFR 23806)  
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Collection Details
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  • Access
  • Publication and Use Rights
  • Processing Note
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Historical or Biographical Note
  • Collection Scope and Content
  • Collection Arrangement

  • Title: Mary Janislawski papers
    Date: 1908-2005
    Date (bulk): 1935-1998
    Identifier/Call Number: HDC1649 (SAFR 23806)
    Teacher: Janislawski, Mary
    Physical Description: 61 linear feet
    Repository: San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, Historic Documents Department
    Building E, Fort Mason
    San Francisco, CA 94123
    Abstract: The Mary Janislawski papers, 1908 - 2005 (SAFR 23806, HDC 1649) document the teaching career and professional associations of Mary Janislawski.
    Physical Location: San Francisco Maritime NHP, Historic Documents Department
    Language(s): In English.


    This collection is open for use unless otherwise noted.

    Publication and Use Rights

    Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the researcher's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.

    Processing Note

    Note on Description: The descriptions in this collection guide were compiled using the best available sources of information. Such sources include the creator's annotations or descriptions, collection accession files, primary and secondary source material and subject matter experts. While every effort was made to provide accurate information, in the event that you find any errors in this guide please contact the reference staff in order for us to evaulate and make corrections to this guide. P lease cite the title and collection number in any correspondence with our staff.

    Preferred Citation

    [Item description], [Location within collection organization identified by Collection Number/Series Number/File Unit Number/Item Number], HDC1649 (SAFR 23806), Mary Janislawski papers, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park

    Acquisition Information

    This collection was kept in the possession of the family until it's donation by the creator's daughter in 2010.

    Historical or Biographical Note

    Mary Janislawski (1908-1998), author and teacher of aeronautical and celestial navigation, lectured on lunar navigation and was posthumously named as the first female Fellow of the Institute of Navigation.
    Mary Agnes Tornich was born in San Francisco, California on June 9, 1908, and was one of only three students to graduate from the University of California Berkeley's astronomy department in 1930. From there, she went to Washington D.C. to study navigation techniques for ships and aircraft with the widely recognized expert, Captain Paul Van Horne Weems. As part of her studies, she completed a navigational challenge on the radius of action of aircraft that was judged by Weems to be the most elegant of any solution submitted throughout the country. This success led to the authorship of her technical manual on the topic, published by Weems in 1940. Tornich returned to the bay area and became the west coast representative of the Weems System of Navigation, opening a school to teach aerial and marine navigation in downtown San Francisco. She also taught Weems' innovative celestial navigation techniques as an adjunct professor at UC Berkeley, at Stanford University and at the Polytechnic College of Engineering in Oakland.
    She met and married merchant marine officer Stanley Janislawski while teaching navigation classes out of her San Francisco office in 1938. During World War II, she taught celestial navigation and meteorology to enlisted pilots at the US Army Air Corps Base in King City, at the Palo Alto Airport, and to US Navy pilots at the Naval Air Station Alameda until 1944. In 1951, when her daughter Mimi had reached the age of six, Mary Janislawski returned to teaching navigation refresher courses and airline pilot certification at Transocean Airlines, located at the Oakland International Airport. She also returned to teaching the Weems System of Navigation in her Sausalito home to mariners and to civilian pilots looking to pass their FAA pilot certifications. In May of 1957 Transocean Airlines through its TALOA Academy of aeronautics had signed a contract with the Department of Defense to train thousands of US Army pilots in navigation and Janislawski was again teaching military pilots to fly and to navigate.
    In the late 1960s she began working on a way to allow astronauts to navigate on the surface of the moon through a lunar grid system, and in 1970 she delivered a lecture on this lunar navigation grid system to the Institute of Navigation (ION) annual meeting at the NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California. This meeting was attended by NASA astronauts and many other luminaries of the science of navigation. For this lunar navigation lecture, and in recognition of her 30 year career of teaching, she was honored in 1972 with a Superior Achievement Citation by ION.
    Mary Janislawski died at her home in Sausalito, California, in June 1998 at the age of 90, and was posthumously named as the first female Fellow of the Institute of Navigation in 1999.

    Collection Scope and Content

    The Mary Janislawski papers, 1908 - 2005 (SAFR 23806, HDC 1649) document the teaching career and professional associations of Mary Janislawski.
    This collection is mainly comprised of the personal records of Mary Janislawski during her career as an author, aviation navigation teacher and as a lecturer on lunar navigation techniques. This collection has been processed to the file unit level and is open for use without restrictions. The collection documents the teaching career and professional associations of Mary Janislawski, who was the west coast representative of the Weems System of Navigation from 1935 to 1968 and taught aviation navigation to more than 3,800 students in the San Francisco Bay area, including more than 2,500 U.S. Army and Navy pilots during World War II at the U.S. Army Air Corps base at King City, California and at the Naval Air Station Alameda. It also contains her manuscripts, drafts and notes for the technical manual she wrote and had published in 1940 entitled Radius of Action of Aircraft, the notes, diagrams and lecture she delivered to the Institute of Navigation on lunar navigation techniques in 1970, her library of technical manuals and publications on the subject of navigation, along with awards received as an expert in the science of navigation and a number of charts and plots used in marine, aviation, lunar and celestial navigation. The collection also contains souvenirs, correspondence and records of Mary's husband Stanley, who rose to the rank of Captain in the U.S. merchant service over a 42 year career almost exclusively with the Pacific Far East Lines, sailing out of San Francisco.

    Collection Arrangement

    The records are arranged thematically into seven series, further arranged in subseries and sub-subseries. The contents of each series are as follows: Series 1, Teaching career; Series 2, Published material and manuscripts; Series 3, Awards, licenses, and conferences; Series 4, Correspondence, lunar navigation notes and photographs; Series 5, Stanley Janislawski; Series 6, Books and manuals; and Series 7, Charts and plots.
    Series 1 is arranged in seven subseries, as follows: Subseries 1, Pine street school and the Weems System of Navigation materials; Subseries 2, University of California, Berkeley and Stanford University; Subseries 3, US Army, King City Air Base, Palo Alto, CA; Subseries 4, Naval Air Station Alameda; Subseries 5, TALOA Academy at Transocean Airlines, Oakland Airport; Subseries 6, Civilian pilot training class taught at Sausalito home; and Subseries 7, Sierra Academy of Aeronautics.
    Series 2 is arranged in three subseries, as follows: Subseries 1, Radius of Action of Aircraft, manuscript and book; Subseries 2, Radius of Action Problems for the Navigation of Aircraft; and Subseries 3, Aerial Navigation and Celestial Navigation manuscripts.
    Series 3 is arranged in four subseries, as follows: Subseries 1, Obituaries, biographies and newspaper clippings; Subseries 2, Awards, certificates and licenses; Subseries 3, Golden Gate International Exposition (1939-1940 : San Francisco, Calif.); and Subseries 4, Institute of Navigation conferences.
    Series 4 is arranged in six subseries, as follows: Subseries 1, Teaching correspondence; Subseries 2, Radius of Action of Aircraft publication correspondence; Subseries 3, Pacific Aero club; Subseries 4, Sergeant Pilots Association correspondence and mementos; Subseries 5, Institute of Navigation lecture on lunar navigation; Subseries 6, Photographs, scrapbooks and news clippings, 1936-1978.
    Series 5 is arranged in seventeen subseries, as follows: Subseries 1, Awards, certificates and licenses; Subseries 2, Mariner's union material; Subseries 3, Professional educational materials; Subseries 4, Institute of Navigation lecture; Subseries 5, Employer correspondence; Subseries 6, Expense account, discharge books and cargo manifests; Subseries 7, Voyage files; Subseries 8, logbooks and navigation notes; Subseries 9, PFEL crew rosters and position reports; Subseries 10; Collision at sea; Subseries 11, Personal financial records; Subseries 12, PFEL stockholders reports; Subseries 13, PFEL news clippings; Subseries 14, Bar pilot job; Subseries 15, Personal correspondence and mementos; Subseries 16, Adopt a ship program; and Subseries 17, Photographs.
    Series 6 is arranged in five subseries, as follows: Subseries 1, Government publications; Subseries 2, reference books; Subseries 3, magazines and yearbooks; Subseries 4, Institute of Navigation publications; and Subseries 5, miscellaneous books and publications.
    Series 7 is arranged in 6 subseries, as follows: Subseries 1, Weather maps and reports; Subseries 2, Charts; Subseries 3, Plotting and maneuvering boards; Subseries 4, Lunar photographs and charts; Subseries 5, Naval aviation lithograph collection; and Subseries 6, Miscellaneous maps and charts.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Navigation (Aeronautics)
    Janislawski, Mary
    Institute of Navigation
    Weems System of Navigation