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Transportation Research: Air

Minnesota transportation from animal-drawn carts and wagons to airplanes and mass transit.

About Air Transportation

In the 1920s the aviation industry in Minnesota began to grow.   Airmail delivery improved communication, freight and passenger service quickly connected people and goods to the world, and military aircraft provided important defense support. The major Minnesota airport known as MSP grew at Wold-Chamberlain Field near Minneapolis, and airfields and airports were built in many communities around the state.  The Minnesota Historical Society holds the records of two major airlines, Northwest and Repulic airlines. 

Researching Air Transportation

Search the library catalog for books and other published materials, manuscript collections, and State Archives collections about air transportation. Useful search terms: aeronautics, aviation, airplanes, air pilots, airports

Selected manuscript and State Archives collection finding aids detailing box locations and contents are available online.  Others are available in notebooks in the Library.

Photographs, artwork, and artifacts documenting air transportation can be found in Collections Online.  Useful search terms: air transportation, airplanes, airports, pilots

Newspapers may contain advertisements and stories about air transportation.

Selected Air Transportation Resources

Air Museum of Minnesota Aviation Collection.  
Primarily subject files on a variety of topics relating to Minnesota aviation history.  The collection includes information on early Minnesota aviators, airfields, and Northwest Airways.  There are also some clippings scrapbooks and publications. 
MNHS call number:  Digital finding aid 

Northwest Airlines, Inc. Corporate Records, 1917-1998.  
Financial records, photographs, subject files, accounting statements and reports, operating statistics, aircraft purchase agreements, slides, advertising materials, video and audio recordings, clippings, manuals, study reports, historical and background information, records of the company's Meteorology and Flight Operations departments, some timetables, and correspondence and memoranda.  
MNHS call number:  Digital finding aid

Republic Airlines Records, 1940-1986.  
Corporate records and subject files related to Republic Airlines (1979-1986) and its predecessor and acquired lines, including North Central Airlines (1952-1979) and its predecessor, Wisconsin Central Airlines (ca.1940s-1952); Southern Airways (ca.1940-1979); and Air West/Hughes Airwest (1968-1980) and its predecessors, Bonanza Air Lines (ca.1940s-1968), Southwest Airways (ca.1940s-1958), Pacific Air Lines (ca.1958-1968), and West Coast Airlines (ca.1940s-1968).  
MNHS call number:  Digital findind aid

Minnesota Aviation History, 1857-1945, by Noel E. Allard and Gerald N. Sandvick.  
Chaska, Minn:  MAHB Pub., Inc., 1993.
MNHS call number:  Reading Room TL522.M6 A62 1993

The Sky's the Limit, by Monica Sorensen.  
St. Paul, Minn.:  Minnesota Dept. of Transportation [1993]-1995.  4 volumes.
MNHS call number:  TL521.312.S67 1993

"The Birth of Powered Flight in Minnesota," by Gerald N. Sandvick.
In Minnesota History, vol. 48, no. 2 (Summer 1982), pp. 46-59.
MNHS call number:  Digital copy of the article.

"Enterprise in the Skies:  The Early Years of Air Commerce in Minnesota," by Gerald N. Sandvick.
In Minnesota History, vol. 50, no. 3 (Fall 1986), pp. 86-98.
MNHS call number:  Digital copy of the article.

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Gale Family Library • Minnesota Historical Society • 345 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55102-1906 • 651-259-3300
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