William J. Powell (Craftsmen of Black Wings, Inc.) Photograph Collection
Digitized Content

Summary
Collection ID:
NASM.1996.0008
Creators:
Craftsmen of Black Wings, Inc
Dates:
1928-1939
bulk 1937-1939
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
0.05 Cubic Feet
1 folder in a shared box
Repository:

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
This collection consists of 9 copy prints and 14 copy negatives. The bulk of the images were copied from issues of
Craftsmen Aero News
and relate to the Craftsmen of Black Wings organization, including photographs of William J. Powell, Marie Dickerson, and Myrtle Bishop.

Historical Note
Historical Note
William J. Powell (1899-1942) was a prominent African-American entrepreneur and pilot who urged African-Americans to become part of the future aviation industry.
Powell was born in Henderson, Kentucky, on July 29, 1899. He moved to Chicago at the age of eight. He entered the University of Illinois in 1916. He went to Officers' Training Camp in Fort Des Moines, Iowa, in June 1917, and was commissioned as a First Lieutenant in the American Expeditionary Forces at the completion of training camp. He served with the 317th Engineers and 365th Infantry during World War I. After his honorable discharge in 1919, he returned to the University of Illinois, graduating with honors and a degree of Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering in 1922.
He worked as an electrical engineer and electric welding instructor for Rock Island Railroad for two years. In 1924, he opened his first filling station and in two years' time, he had built a successful automobile business in South Chicago before moving to Los Angeles in 1928.
During the late 1920s and 1930s, Powell worked tirelessly to promote airmindedness in the black community. Under his umbrella organization, Craftsmen of Black Wings, Inc., Powell wrote a thinly disguised autobiography,
Black Wings
, in 1934; wrote and directed a 1935 documentary film,
Unemployment, the Negro and Aviation
; and published a trade journal entitled
Craftsmen Aero News
(1937-1938). Powell was also instrumental in organizing the Bessie Coleman Aero Club and the "Five Blackbirds" demonstration team. William J. Powell died in July 1942.

Administration
Processing Note
Researchers may wish to consult other collections in the NASM Archives: William J. Powell Collection (Accession 1999-0049).
Described and encoded by Elizabeth C. Borja, 2017.
Author
Elizabeth C. Borja
Acquisition Note
NASM Generated. Images in this collection were copied by the NASM Branch Photo Lab from issues of
Craftsmen Aero-News
, which were loaned to Von Hardesty by Ted Robinson for copying and inclusion in the 1994 edition of Powell's book
Black Wings
.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
No restrictions on access.
Preferred Citation
William J. Powell (Craftsmen of Black Wings, Inc.) Photograph Collection, Accession 1996-0008, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.
Conditions Governing Use
Permissions Requests

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Craftsmen Aero News (journal) Title Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Aeronautics Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Aeronautics -- Societies, etc. Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
African Americans in aeronautics Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Powell, William J., 1899-1942 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Dickerson, Marie Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Bishop, Myrtle Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
National Air and Space Museum Archives
14390 Air & Space Museum Parkway
Chantilly, VA 20151
NASMRefDesk@si.edu
http://airandspace.si.edu/research/resources/archives/