Cool Things - Amelia Earhart Christmas Cards
Aviator Amelia Earhart and husband George Putnam sent these Christmas cards to family and friends in the 1930s.
The decade of the 1930s was a golden age for aviation. New and powerful aircraft allowed aviators to set records in distance and speed, dazzling the American public. The publishing and film industries saw opportunity to exploit pilots and cash in on their fame.
In 1928, publisher George Palmer Putnam searched to find the first female pilot who could cross the Atlantic Ocean. Riding on the success of Charles Lingbergh (another client), Palmer hoped to capture the attention of the American public. His search led him to Amelia Earhart.
Amelia was born in Atchison, Kansas, on July 24, 1897. The Earhart family later moved to Kansas City, Kansas, and Des Moines, Iowa. She attended school for a short time on the East Coast, and enlisted as a nurse's aid in Toronto, Canada, where she treated World War I soldiers. After working as social worker in California, Earhart became interested in aviation. She purchased her first airplane in 1922.
Under Palmer's supervision, Earhart's "Friendship Flight" across the Atlantic in 1928 gained her international recognition. That same year, Putnam and Earhart were married. Always considered by Putnam to be a wild spirit, Earhart had reservations about marriage. She wrote him before the wedding:
"You must know again my reluctancy to marry, my feeling that I shatter thereby chances I work which means so much to me. . . . I may have to keep some place where I can go to be myself now and then, for I cannot guarantee to endure at all times the confinements of even an attractive cage."
The partnership flourished. The two divided their time between homes in New York and California. Earhart continued to set records and Putnam continued to write about her endeavors. Finally, as her publicist, Putnam was responsible for issuing the press bulletins after Earhart's disappearance during her 1937 attempt at an around-the-world flight.
Earhart wrote to family and friends throughout her life. Her letter writing extended to acquaintances made in Europe after the historic 1928 flight. The Christmas cards pictured here were sent by Earhart and Putnam to friends in the British Isles (the couple stayed with the donor's family while visiting Great Britain). As with Earhart's letters, the cards bear her distinctive signature, "AE." The cards were donated to the Kansas Museum of History in 2004.
Entry: Cool Things - Amelia Earhart Christmas Cards
Author: Kansas Historical Society
Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.
Date Created: April 2005
Date Modified: December 2014
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