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Early Women in Aviation: Topics in Chronicling America

In the early 20th century, interest in aviation led to rising female pilots in recreation and war. This guide provides access to material related to "Early Women in Aviation" in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.


Mrs. William Duffy joins other young women who are going for aviation and offering their services to the United States Goverment. July 25, 1917. Richmond-Times-Dispatch (Richmond, VA), Image 15. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

In the field of aviation, women were a little late to the game, but they had been passengers on airships and heavier-than-air machines since the beginning. Later, aviatrices in Europe grew in number followed by American women. These female pilots were motivated by both personal and patriotic duties. Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.


October 16, 1910 Women are becoming more frequent flyers, especially in Europe where female pilots are starting on the scene.
July 2, 1911 Harriet Quimby joins the list of female aviators as the first licensed female pilot in America.
August 3, 1911 Mrs. Russell Sage patrons Miss E. L. Todd, who is designing and building her own plane.
December 15, 1911 Articles published about how women may make better pilots than men because of the nature of their sex.
July 7, 1914 Female Pilot, Mrs. Hornsby, argues that women should not fly.
August 1, 1915 Helene Dutrieu is the first female air scout in the First World War. Other female pilots do their patriotic duty through the sale of bonds.