Director of Communications
ATLANTA — Previously unknown photos of Amelia Earhart, the first woman to pilot an airplane solo across the Atlantic Ocean, during her visit to Atlanta in 1934 have been discovered in the Georgia State University Library’s Special Collections and Archives.
This discovery comes in the lead-up to Amelia Earhart Day, honoring the pioneering aviator annually on her birthday, July 24, 1897.
The photos, found by a staff member fulfilling a reference request, show Earhart at and around Candler Field, now Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Earhart is seen showcasing her aircraft to unidentified attendees and posing with members of the Ninety Nines, an international organization for women pilots.
“We handle thousands of reference requests every year for our photographs and to stumble upon a previously unknown set of photographs of someone as famous as Amelia Earhart was thrilling,” said Christina Zamon, head of Special Collections and Archives.
The images were found in an envelope labeled “Women pilots, old” among millions of donated photographs and negatives from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Two notable attendees during her visit to Atlanta were The Atlanta Constitution vice president and general manager, Major Clark Howell Jr., and The Atlanta Journal president and editor, Major John S. Cohen. Mainer Lee Toler, staff writer at The Constitution, interviewed Earhart during her trip to Atlanta and was treated to a flight over the city with Earhart at the controls.
“Women should fly,” Earhart told Toler during her interview.
In 1960, more than 25 years after Earhart’s visit to Atlanta, only one in 21,417 licensed American pilots were women. According to ISWAP, as of January 2020, there are now more than 9,750 women who are commercial pilots.
Earhart was lost during an around-the-world attempt in 1937, almost three years after her visit to Atlanta, though her legacy lives on through celebration of her achievements and her pioneering for women in aviation.
Discovered images can be viewed in the Georgia State University Library’s Digital Collections.
Above: Amelia Earhart (center) poses with fellow pilots at the Candler Field Airport in 1934.