This collection deals chiefly with Durant's tenure as Assistant Director for Astronautics at the National Air and Space Museum (NASM). Perhaps the single topic of greatest interest is the effort to obtain a building for NASM, which was accomplished on July 1, 1976, when the new museum opened. A parallel theme concerns the drive to plan and complete the new museum's exhibits. Durant's wide contacts in the aerospace community, based on his years as an engineer and administrator, made him very useful in this respect. At the same time, there is a continuing interest in the on-going study of the history of military aviation and astronautics as well. Finally, there is documentation for Durant's private interests, which included stamp collecting, magic, and the activities of the Cosmos Club, to which he belongs.
Correspondents include many of the United States astronauts; Arthur C. Clarke; Stanley Kubrick; and the creators of Star Trek, the popular television series.
Frederick Clark Durant, (1916-2015) was born in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, and educated as a chemical engineer at Lehigh University (B.S., 1939). He served as a naval pilot during World War II.
In the post war years his career led him through a variety of aspects of aeronautics and rocketry, in both the government and private corporations. He was employed with Bell Aircraft Corporation, 1947-1948; the U.S. Naval Air Rocket Test Station, New Jersey, 1949-1952; as an Engineering Consultant, 1953-1954; with Arthur D. Little, Inc., 1955-1957; Avco-Everett Research Laboratory, 1958-1961; and Bell Aerosystems Company, 1962-1964. In 1965 he joined the National Air Museum (the National Air and Space Museum - after 1966) as its Assistant Director for Astronautics. He held that post until leaving NASM in 1980 to pursue other interests. Durant is a recognized expert on the history of rocketry and is a member of numerous societies, among them the American Astronautical Society and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and he is a past President of the American Rocket Society.
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 398, National Air and Space Museum. Department of Astronautics, Correspondence
Smithsonian Institution Archives
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