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Ellington Field research collection

Identifier: MS 0547
Finding aid note: Stored off-site at the Library Service Center. Please request this material via or call 713-348-2586.

Scope and Contents

The Ellington Field research collection relates to the history of Ellington Field (later designated Ellington Air Force Base) and the development of military aviation from World War I through to the Space Age. Subjects include the history of the airfield and some of the units that served there, women in the military at Ellington Field, African Americans in the military, NASA, Johnson Space Center, the Air National Guard, Texas National Gaurd, and the Houston Airport System. Photographs date from 1917- 2007, diaries, postcards and memorabilia date from World War I and World War II. Two rolls of microfilm from the Air Force History and Research Agency ( AFHRA) contain the base records and reports from 1940-1945. Documentation includes Morrow's research notes and copies of primary sources such as crash investigation reports, Houston Aiport System records, leases, press releases and newspaper clippings. Books include diaries, memoirs, unit histories, and military histories. Recorded and live interviews date from 1967-2007.


  • Creation: 1917-2009

Access Restrictions

This material is open for research. Stored off-site at the Library Service Center. Please request this material via or call 713-348-2586.

Use Restrictions

Permission to publish from The Ellington Field Collection must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center, Rice University.

Historical Sketch

Ellington Field was officially opened November 27, 1917, as the United States' largest pilot and navigator training base, and the nation's first aerial bombing school. By the end of World War I, Ellington Field had grown to the size of a small city which housed 20,000 men and 250 aircraft. Like most bases, it was closed after World War I, but unlike most other military installations, it was reopened and saw at least partial use until World War II, when it was rebuilt as one of ten strategic defense bases in the United States. It was the only strategic defense base on the Gulf Coast. The location of the field was, and still is, crucial to the defense of the Houston Ship Channel, the ports of Galveston and Houston and one of the United States' largest oil refining centers. In 2005, the field was once again expanded to become a Joint Reserves base, to house the combined military forces Reserve Units. In 2005, the U.S. Department of Defense recommended retiring Ellington Field's 147th Fighter Wing F-16 Falcon fighter jets. The aircraft were replaced with MQ-1 Predator unmanned drones and the unit was redesignated as the 147th Reconnaissance Wing. The ANG 272nd Engineering Installation Squadron, was also relocated to Ellington Field. From 1976 to 2007, Ellington Field was partially owned and managed by the Houston Airport System, and the base was also home to the Texas State Guard, NASA's Johnson Space Center, a U.S. Coast Guard Search and Rescue unit, and other aviation related businesses.

Kathryn Black Morrow (1948- ) assembled this collection during her research for a master's thesis, which she completed at the University of Houston, Clear Lake campus, in 2003. She expanded her thesis research and published a history of Ellington Field called Defender of America's Gulf Coast, A History of Ellington Field, Texas 1917-2007 , in 2007. Ms. Morrow was born in Houston Texas, and works as a researcher, writer of Texas history, and archivist. Her other books include "Guide to the Texas Slave Trade Series, 1818-1886, The 79th Aviation Squadron, Ellington Field, Texas, in World War II, Southeast Texas Colored Voter Registrations, 1867-1869," and "Meant to Fly; The Memoirs of Captain A.J. High, Pilot for Trans-Texas Airways."


5.5 Linear Feet (11 boxes)

Language of Materials



This collection contains ten boxes of material related to the history and operation of Ellington Field, also known as Ellington Air Force Base, near Houston, Texas. The majority of the records date from 1917-2007, and include historical research materials, photographs, books, microfilm, postcards, and memorabilia. The foundation of the collection was material assembled by historian Kathryn Black Morrow for the publication of a history of Ellington Field.

Acquisition Information

This collection was donated by Kathryn Black Morrow May 4, 2009.


Future additions may be expected for this material.

Guide to the Ellington Field research collection, 1917-2009
Language of description
Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Woodson Research Center, Rice University, Houston, Texas Repository

Fondren Library MS-44, Rice University
6100 Main St.
Houston Texas 77005 USA