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Inventory of John J. Montgomery Collection
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Statement
  • Scope and Content
  • A Review of Facts Related to the John J. Montgomery 1911 "Evergreen" Gliders
  • Additional Sources of Montgomery materials in SCU Archives

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: John J. Montgomery Collection
    Creator: Montgomery, John J.
    Extent: 6 cubic feet
    Repository: Santa Clara University Archives
    Santa Clara, CA 95053
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    Santa Clara University permits public access to its archives within the context of respect for individual privacy, administrative confidentiality, and the integrity of the records. It reserves the right to close all or any portion of its records to researchers.
    The archival files of any office may be opened to a qualified researcher by the administrator of that office or his/her designee at any time.
    Archival collections may be used by researchers only in the Reading Room of the University Archives and may be photocopied only at the discretion of the archivist.

    Publications Rights

    Permission to copy or publish any portion of the Archives' materials must be given by the Archives.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], John J. Montgomery Collection, Santa Clara University. University Archives.

    Biographical Statement

    John Joseph Montgomery was born February 15, 1858 in Yuba City, California, the son of Zachary and Ellen Evoy Montgomery. In 1864 he moved to Oakland California, where he is believed to have begun his study of birds' flight and wing structure. He entered Santa Clara College in 1874 then transferred to St. Ignatius College in San Francisco in 1875, where he earned his B.Sc. in 1879 and his M.Sc. in 1880.
    In 1893 Montgomery presented his paper "Soaring Flight" at the Aeronautical Congress' Conference on Aerial Navigation, in Chicago, having accomplished the first controlled flight of man in a heavier than air craft at Otay Mesa, around 1883 or 1884.
    In 1894 Montgomery began teaching mathematics at St. Joseph's College in Rohnnerville, but he returned to his family home in Oakland in 1895 and began living at Santa Clara College in 1896, where he was awarded his Ph.D. in 1901. While at Santa Clara he worked with James E. Leonard, flying three and four-foot wingspread model planes at Leonard's ranch, and with the Rev. Richard H. Bell, S.J. on improve-ments on the Marconi Wireless, while also teaching physics.
    In 1904 Montgomery trained Daniel Maloney to fly two full-scale planes that had been completed in 1903. The two presented several exhibitions in 1905, in which a plane was raised 500 to 4,000 feet by a hot air balloon, then cut free and maneuvered to the ground. The exhibitions stopped when Maloney was killed July 18, 1905. Shortly after Maloney's death Montgomery received patent No. 831,173 "For Improvement in Aeroplanes." This was to be the basis of a 1921 suit brought by Montgomery's widow, Regina Cleary Montgomery, and other family members.
    In 1909 Montgomery patented an alternating current rectifier which he sold to a San Francisco company. He married Regina Cleary on June 30, 1910.
    Montgomery continued his experimental flights. In the Fall of 1911, during a two week period of work with his mechanics Cornelius Reinhardt and Joseph Vierra at Evergreen, he made approximately 55 successful flights. On October 31, 1911, during a flight, he was struck by a bolt loosened from the aeroplane and was killed.
    The article "Montgomery," a chronology of JJM's life and work by Herbert L. Kelley, is reproduced here from WWI Aero (#124:May 1989) as part of the biographic materials of this collection. The most comprehensive published biography of Montgomery is John Joseph Montgomery, Father of Basic Flying by Arthur Dunning Spearman, S.J., University of Santa Clara, 1967. "Reach for the Restless Wind," an unpublished biography of Montgomery by George Williams (1979, rev. 1986), was donated to the Archives in 1990. It is in Box 13 of the Montgomery Collection.

    Scope and Content

    The Montgomery Collection in the Santa Clara University Archives contains the personal papers of John J. Montgomery, some of his family members and associates and biographers; court materials from the patent battles waged by his family; and published materials related to Montgomery or to aviation history. Also included are Montgomery's gyroscope and a few other artifacts, films related to Montgomery or aviation, plans for glider reconstructions, and aviation society newsletters.
    Much of the material in the collection was assembled by Arthur Dunning Spearman, S.J., archivist of Santa Clara University and author of a biography of Montgomery.
    There is a collection of Montgomery photographs (3 boxes) which includes prints from his early days in Otay as well as original photographs made by Vierra on the day Montgomery was killed.
    The Lockheed reconstruction (1961) of the "Evergreen" was at San Diego Aviation Museum from 1963 to 1975, the Exploratorium in San Francisco 1978-?, and most of the original plane is stored at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. The vehicle went on loan in 1994 to the Flying Lady Restaurant.
    As the collection was housed in six file drawers in the Archives in Orradre Library, and the origin of most of the pieces was not noted, it was impossible to entirely follow the principle of organization according to provenance. However, in an attempt to note as clearly as possible the origin of certain series, several small collections have been created within the larger collection, (i.e. Regina Cleary Montgomery papers). Within series, items are generally arranged chronologically.
    In 1975, two inventories of large Montgomery exhibition materials mounted on masonite, and Montgomery artifacts in the SCU Archives were compiled by Arthur D. Spearman, S.J., with the help of his assistant, Catherine J. Haas. Both of these documents are in Box 1, folder 4. While some of these items are no longer housed in the Archives, the inventories are useful as evidence of the collection at that time.
    How to find documents in the collection: The location of materials in the Montgomery Collection is indicated in parenthesis. The first number is the box, the second is the folder number. For example, (4,8) is box 4, folder 8.
    Inventory compiled by Kathleen Bollard, 1978 and updated by Stephanie Ferries, 1990. Revised and updated by Julia O'Keefe, 1992. Revised and updated by Anne McMahon, 1999.

    A Review of Facts Related to the John J. Montgomery 1911 "Evergreen" Gliders

    On Display At The San Diego Aerospace Museum & The Hiller Museum (Redwood City, Ca) By: William F. Chana
    Persons contacted in this order (one led to the other):
    • 1. Dr. Tom Crouch, Chairman Aeronautics Dept., NASM Smithsonian
    • 2. Father Gerald McKevitt, Rector of the Jesuits, Santa Clara University
    • 3. Mrs. Julia O'Keefe, Archivists, Santa Clara University, California
    • 4. George Giacomini, Assistant to the President, Santa Clara University
    • 5. William Adams, Chair, History & Heritage, ASME, Santa Clara Sec.
    • 6. Richard Campi, Retired Lockheed, Team Leader, Evergreen Builder
    • 7. Tim Cunningham, Restoration Supervisor, S.D. Aerospace Museum
    • 8. Gordon Werne, Curator, Hiller Museum, Redwood City, Ca
    1911 Evergreen Glider in the San Diego Aerospace Museum (SDAM)
    This full scale glider is owned by the National Air & Space Museum (NASM) Smithsonian Institution, and it is on loan to the SDAM. It was constructed using approximately 60-70% of the original components of John J. Montgomery's 1911 Evergreen glider. It therefore can be classified as a "Partial Original." It was restored for the NASM by Charles Newcomb in 1980. Minor repair and assembly was accomplished by the SADM after it arrived in San Diego on October 3, 1980.
    1911 Evergreen Glider in the Hiller Museum in Redwood City, Ca.
    This full scale glider is owned by the Santa Clara University and it is on loan to the Hiller Museum. It was constructed using approximately 3 to 5% of the original components of John J. Montgomery's 1911 Evergreen glider.
    Some original wing ribs, bracketry and the wing tip circular bumpers were used. Therefore this glider can be classified as a "Partial Original." It was built by a group of Lockheed employees in 1961. On a loan agreement with the SDAM, Father A.D. Spearman of Santa Clara University personally delivered this glider to the SDAM and it was one of five aircraft on display when the SDAM opened on February 15, 1963. A few years prior to the February 22, 1978 SDAM fire, Father Spearman reacquired the glider for display at the San Francisco Exploratorium. From there it was loaned to the Flying Lady Museum in Morgan Hill, Ca. In early 1995 it was loaned to the Hiller Museum.
    There is evidence that in the 1911 time period John Montgomery produced a "development form of the glider used at Evergreen" plus the glider in which he had his fatal accident.
    It can be concluded that the 1911 Evergreen glider in the SDAM and the one in the Hiller Museum can be classified as "Partial Original" since they both have a percentage of components from the original 1911 Evergreen glider in which Montgomery lost his life. There are no rules that define what percentage of original parts must be used before a recreated copy can be called a "Partial Original."
    The 1911 Montgomery gliders in the SDAM and the Hiller Museum cannot be classified as a "Reproduction" or "Replica." A reproduction is a copy made with no original parts, and a replica is a copy where one or more of the builders of the "Original" had a hand in building the copy.
    Glider Reconstruction/Reproduction
    Over the years, several individuals and organizations have reconstructed various Montgomery aeroplanes. In the early 1960's, Lockheed Corporation engineers working with Arthur D. Spearman, University Archivist, reconstructed the 1911 Evergreen. According to William F. Chana (see JJM collection correspondence file, 12/95), the 1961 Lockheed reconstruction of the "Evergreen" (see also Spearman and Campi papers) was exhibited at the San Diego Aviation Museum from 1963 until about 1977, when it was retrieved by Fr. Spearman for exhibit at the Exploratorium Science Museum in San Francisco.
    After exhibition at the Exploratorium (perhaps about 1980?), the vehicle was moved to the Flying Lady Restaurant in Morgan Hill. In 1994 it was loaned to the Hiller Aviation Museum in Redwood City, Ca.
    A 1988 reproduction of Montgomery's glider The Santa Clara, built by the San Jose Aero Club, was exhibited in the San Jose International Airport from 1988 until 1994 (?) and then placed at the Hiller Museum.
    In 1979 remnants of the original 1911 Evergreen were transferred to the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., which then reconstructed a vehicle for exhibit (see JJM collection correspondence file, 3/79). In 1981, this reconstruction, containing about 50-60% original components (according to William F. Chana of the SDAM) was loaned by NASM to the San Diego Aviation Museum.
    SCU Archives contains documentation, including blueprints, of several reconstructions or reproductions of Montgomery gliders:


    • Robischon, E.W. to Santa Clara University, Sept. 4, 1956, 1 p. 5,11 re: reconstruction of 1884 glider by the San Diego Section of the Institute of the Aeronautical Sciences.
    • Robischon, E.W. to Father Charles Guenther, S.J., Oct. 19, 1956, 1 p.
    • Hall, Stan, "Montgomery Project Plan," April 17, 1961, 3 pp.


    • Lockheed plan for restoration of the 1905 and 1911 gliders.
    • Lockheed Overhead Expenditure Request for the Exhibit for the Father Hubbard Museum, July 26,1961, 1 p. and duplicate notated by Fr. Spearman, S.J.
    • Lockheed Corporation. "Aviation Pioneer Montgomery Honored half Century After Death." Film, 1961? Color, silent, 3:44 min. (?,1992)


    • Campi, R.B. (Design data for 1911 Evergreen). Blueprint, Sept. 1, 1961. (Spearman note: "1910-11 airfoil. Fabric mobile on ribs and sidewise sleeve for lateral spar.")
    • Campi, R.B. 1911 Professor John J. Montgomery's Flying Machine. Blueprint, May 5, 1962. 3 copies.
    • Campi, R.B. 1911 Professor John J. Montgomery's Flying Machine.
    • Blueprint, border photographs of gliders added. May 5, 1962.
    • Darcy, O.A. "The Montgomery 1905 tandem wing glider, The Santa Clara." Blueprint, May 10, 1987. Revised July 23, 1987 and Nov. 12, 1987 for A Aero Club of Northern California and San Jose International Airport. 1p.
    • Program and news clipping from 1988 dedication
    • Goodwin, Garland O. Montgomery 1883 Glider. Blueprint, 3 sheets.
    • Spurgeon, J.R. (5590 Morro Way, LaMesa, CA 92041). John J. Montgomery 1883 hang glider. Blueprint, Sept. 20, 1972. 2 sheets. Print reproduction rights reserved.


    • Watsonville High School reconstruction, 1988.
    See also the Spearman papers, box 9 Art Bean's plans for reconstruction of 1905 glider with changes.

    Additional Sources of Montgomery materials in SCU Archives

    Title: Archives correspondence re Montgomery, 1935- (4EV)
    Title: Santa Clara Newspaper correspondence,
    Date: April 18, 1946.
    Title: SCU Presidents Papers:
    Date: 1921-1986
    Title: Edward R.A. Boland, S.J. Papers,
    Date: 1940-1950.
    Title: Charles D. South Papers, "The Father of the Aeroplane,"
    Date: 1914.
    Title: Arthur D. Spearman, S.J. Papers.
    Title: Williams, George. "Reach for the Restless Wind."
    Date: 1986,
    209 pages. (13)