NASM Library Special Collections

The DeWitt Clinton Ramsey Room

Lindbergh flight etching


Established in the mid-1970’s in memory of the early aviator Admiral DeWitt Clinton Ramsey, this National Air and Space Museum special library collection, includes:

  • rare books and other scarce materials,
  • sound recordings,
  • early aviation related serials, and
  • Bella Landauer Collection of sheet music.

Largely donated by William A. Burden, additions came from the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences. This collection has many writings by Samuel Pierpont Langley, third secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, and includes other early literature on aviation, fanciful works on aerospace, first edition monographs, 18th and 19th Century books and scrapbooks on ballooning, and 19th and 20th Century works on aeronautics and space exploration.

The Aerospace Legacy Materials Collection

This collection is historically significant because it documents the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and predecessor agencies in the development of civil aviation and air transportation. FAA materials are largely shelved at the Smithsonian Libraries’ Research Annex in Landover, MD, and include:

  • air activity reports
  • air navigational studies
  • air route planning reports
  • air safety investigations
  • aircraft studies
  • airport development programs
  • census studies
  • engineering task force studies
  • forecasts
  • statistical summaries of airline and airways operations
  • surveys

The FAA materials document complex technologies, science, engineering, and operations of air transportation. Civil aircraft is a foundation of the U.S. economy. Other than during wartime, (e.g., during World War II) civil air transportation dominates domestic flight. Global networks of air terminals and rapid, extensive, dependable, and affordable air operations have produced dynamic changes in “new world order.” Today’s world is radically different from before World War II, largely due to air commerce.

Udvar-Hazy Center Docent’s Library

The docents at the Paul Garber Facility created this collection of approximately 1,200 books in 2003. When artifacts began moving to the new Udvar-Hazy Center, the docents pooled their personal reference library materials, and donated them to the National Air and Space Museum Library. The docents gathered these titles to provide background information for developing their highlights tours at Garber. The books cover the following areas:

  • air craft design and instrumentation
  • aviation during war
  • aviation history
  • military aviation, and
  • other anecdotes and facts that allow docents to provide interesting tours.

Presently, this collection is non-circulating, but can be reviewed in-house at the Udvar-Hazy Center by contacting the National Air and Space Museum Library.