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Guide to the H. W. Zurilgen Collection on Roy N. Francis 2009.12
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Collection Details
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  • Immediate Source of Acquisition note
  • Conditions Governing Access note
  • Conditions Governing Use note
  • Preferred Citation note
  • Scope and Contents note
  • Biographical/Historical note

  • Title: H. W. Zurilgen Collection on Roy N. Francis
    Identifier/Call Number: 2009.12
    Contributing Institution: History San Jose Research Library
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 0.25 Linear feet (1/2 manuscript box)
    Date (inclusive): 1910-1952
    Abstract: News clippings, photographs, publications and other materials regarding early Santa Clara County aviator Roy Francis.
    Language of Materials note: The materials are in English.
    creator: Zurilgen, H. W., Lt. Col.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition note

    Materials were donated by Nancy Labahn of Price, Utah, who inherited them from her father, Lt. Colonel H. W. Zurilgen.

    Conditions Governing Access note

    Materials are open to the public for research by appointment.

    Conditions Governing Use note

    Property rights reside with History San Jose. For permissions to reproduce or to publish, please contact History San Jose Research Library.

    Preferred Citation note

    H. W. Zurilgen Collection on Roy N. Francis 2009-12, History San Jose Research Library, San Jose, California 95112-2599.

    Scope and Contents note

    Materials about Roy N. Francis, early Santa Clara County aviator, including newsclippings, photographs, publications, and a few personal papers. The photographs, postcards, and some publications appear to have been part of the "Francis Aero Collection," managed by Francis's grandson Bruce Francis Svihus. They are stamped "Property of Bruce Francis Svihus, R.N. Francis Associates of California and Francis Aero Collection."
    Personal papers include an original Lincoln Beachey contract, Francis's U.S. Army honorable discharge certificate, a handwritten letter from Francis to his daughter Eva in 1931, and his Pilot's Book from his time in the U.S. Army Air Service during World War I.
    Many of the black and white photographs appear to have been available for reproduction through the Frances Aero Collection. Of note is a postcard sent from the Tanforan Air Meet in December 1913, where a temporary air mail sub-station was set up for the event.
    Most of the news clippings are original and cover the full breadth of Francis's career. The publications are mostly reproductions of Aero and Aeronautics magazine articles about how to build model planes, but also include an original copy of the Aeronautics May-June 1912 issue and the publication, "Encyclopedia of U.S. Military Aircraft 1908 to April 6, 1917 Part I, Volume 3" by Robert B. Casari. Two items of ephemera are in this folder: an insert for the "Lindy" League Miniature Aircraft event held at the Auspices San Francisco Playground Commission on August 9, 1929; and the program for the Forty-fifth Anniversary of the Wright Flight Aero Club of Washington Banquet, 17 December 1948.

    Biographical/Historical note

    Captain Roy N. Francis, born 1886 in Santa Clara County to Octave Francis, is considered one of the "early birds" of American aviation. In 1911, he took off from Cow Flat near the Presidio of San Francisco, and made a successful flight in a biplane of his own design. On November 18, 1912, his twin-tractor plane made the first passenger flight over the San Francisco Bay carrying local theatre member Vivian O'Brian, taking off from Alameda and landing near Cliff House. Later he partnered with Charles Patterson in Patterson-Francis Aviation Company, San Francisco. They produced a two-engine tractor flying boat, which Francis flew in the 1913 Great Lakes Reliability Tour, and a Twin-Tractor plane designed by Francis.
    During World War I Francis was a flying instructor for the U.S. Army Air Corps and served as executive officer at Kelly Field in San Antonio, Texas. He was honorably discharged at Kelly Field on September 30, 1920, after earning three silver war service chevrons. After World War I, Francis returned to San Francisco from Washington and ran an electrical supplies shop on the corner of Polk and Pine Streets.
    In 1931, he was appointed superintendent of San Francisco Airport, then called Mills Field, and held the post for two and a half years.
    Francis was active in the American Legion, serving as commander of the Floyd Bennett Aviation Post 333 from 1943-44. He passed away in 1952.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Francis, Roy N., 1886-1952
    Aeronautics--California--San Francisco Bay Area
    Airplane Pilot (air trans.)
    San Francisco (Calif.)
    Santa Clara County (Calif.)