Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Guide to the Leonard Eugene Root Papers, 1923-1983
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (101.87 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Collection Scope and Content Summary
  • Access Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Root, Leonard Eugene, Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1923-1983
    Collection number: M0635
    Creator: Root, Leonard Eugene, 1910-1992
    Extent: 11.75 linear ft.
    Repository: Stanford University. Libraries. Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives.
    Abstract: The papers include personal correspondence, memos and notes from Root's work (particularly at Lockheed), speeches, newsclippings, photographs (including some in yearbooks, 1929-1935) and publications.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information



    Publication Rights

    Property rights reside with the repository. Literary rights reside with the creators of the documents or their heirs. To obtain permission to publish or reproduce, please contact the Public Services Librarian of the Dept. of Special Collections.

    Preferred Citation

    Leonard Eugene Root Papers. M0635. Dept. of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, Calif.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of Sheryl Root, 1992.


    Leonard Eugene Root was born in Lewiston, Idaho on July 4, 1910. He spent his school years in Stockton, California, and then attended the College of the Pacific, receiving his Bachelor of Arts in Engineering and Mathematics in 1932.
    L. Eugene Root's long and distinguished career in aeronautical and space sciences began with his graduate work at California Institute of Technology in the Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory. He earned Masters of Sciences in both Mechanical Engineering (1933) and Aeronautical Engineering (1934) from Caltech. Before he could finish his doctoral work, however, he was recruited: by his professor, Arthur E. Raymond, also the Chief Engineer at Douglas Aircraft Company, Inc., to work at Douglas in 1934. He remained at Douglas as Chief of Aerodynamics until 1946, and then served as a member of the staff of a Special Engineering Project until 1948.
    After Douglas, Rand Corporation hired him as Chief of Aircraft Division from 1948-1953. In 1953, he joined Lockheed Aircraft Corporation where he remained until his retirement in 1970. Throughout his years at Lockheed, Root was instrumental in long range planning for the corporation. He was responsible for initiating planning efforts toward corporate diversification and the development of missile and space system programs. As the first Director of the Development and Planning Department, he proposed the creation of the Missile Systems Division to develop ballistic missiles and satellites. Lockheed Missiles and Space Company, Root's brainchild, was established in January 1954.
    In 1956, he was appointed Vice President of Lockheed Aircraft Corpoaration and General Manager of Missiles and Space Division. In 1959, he became Group Vice President of Lockheed Missiles and Space Division, Lockheed Electronics Company and Grand Central Rocket Company. In 1961, he was named President of Lockheed Missiles and Space Company, and in 1969, he became Group Vice President of Lockheed Aircraft Corporation. While at Lockheed, he gave priority to cultivating effective management skills as well as to developing goals for the corporation. His primary areas of research were aircraft design; flying qualities; systems and operational analyses in military sciences; development planning methods; missiles and spacecreaft and aerospace management. Among the preeminant engineering projects in which he participated were the Polaris, the Agena and the Genesis efforts.
    Root was called upon as advisor to other organizations in his field. He lectured at California Institute of Technology in 1937-1938. He served as a consultant to Hughes Aircraft Aerodynamic Advisory Panel. He was a member of Aerodynamic Committee of the National Advisory Committee in Aeronautics from1944-1950. He was the Chairman of the Aerodynamic Advisory Panel for the Atomic Energy Commission between 1948 and 1950. He was first Assistant to the Deputy Chief of Staff and then Chief of Staff of the Advisory Board for Development for the United States Airforce.
    Root was active in the professional, social and community organizations with which he associated. Root was active in his memberships to the National Academy of Sciences; the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics; the American Astronautical Society; and the Royal Aeronautical Society.
    Dedicated to his community, Root served on the Board of Directors for the University of the Pacific, the Stanford Bank, and for the Management Council for Bay Area Employment Opportunity.
    Among his honors are the Junior Chamber of Commerce Award for Outstanding Young Men (1945), the Navy Distinguished Public Service Award (1960), and a NASA Public Service Award for outstanding contributions in the Gemini Program (1966)
    Root married Laura Beryl Mount in 1935. They had three children: Kirby, Karen and Brian. Root retired early from Lockheed in 1970 due to coronary disease. He turned to amateur radio to fill his free time. He died in Menlo Park, California on January 23, 1992.

    Collection Scope and Content Summary

    The L. Eugene Root papers document the personal side of a man dedicated a career in the aerospace industry throughout the 1940s, 5Os and 6Os. Although the collection contains some of his business notebooks, with jottings, and some interoffice communication, much of his work was in a high security environment that forbade the public dispersal of his working papers. The papers do document the success of huge projects at Lockheed through press releases, promotional literature and news clippings that Root loyally collected. In a 1980 interview, he affirmed the importance of documenting the history of the aerospace industry, and with these papers, he has contributed to its historical documentation.
    Boxes 1 through 4 contain Root's biographical papers. Included are limited tax and medical papers, a transcribed interview, an autobiography, early family correspondence (particularly with his wife in 1945 - 1946), acquaintence correspondence, and memorabilia that he collected, some of which pertains to his association with the University of the Pacific and the California Institute of Technology.
    The remaining boxes, 5 through 21, contain the material he collected relating to his aerospace career and to the space industry in general. Boxes 5 through 7 house memorabilia and keep sakes that Rootcollected. Included also are articles by Root as well as literature about various aerospace organizations. Extensive newsclippings are stored in Box 8, and in Box 9, is Lockheed business material mostly pertaining to Root's responsibilities as manager at Lockheed. Box 10 holds issues of The Lockheed Star (May 14, 1953-October 18, 1985), a publication of the Lockheed Missiles and Space Company, Inc. In box 11 are miscellaneous reports, notes, and news releases. Boxes 12,13 and 14 contain space industry related publications. In Boxes 15 through 18 are professional photographs of Root as well as photographs of various Lockheed events.
    With his papers, Stanford received a number of books from Root's personal library. Because of their interest to the libraries' patrons they have been removed to the public stacks. A list of those volumes is available upon request. A small number of volumes, including pamphlets and books not suitable for cataloguing, remain with the papers because of their significance in Root's life. These volumes are sometimes filed with other appropriate material and the rest are stored in Boxes 19, 20 and 21.

    Access Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Douglas Aircraft Company.
    Lockheed Aircraft Corporation.
    Rand Corporation.
    United States. National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
    Aeronautics, Military.
    Aerospace industries.
    The Naranjado : College of the Pacific yearbook.