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Manuscripts by Subject - Military - #11047

Title: Vivian (Gilchrist) Nemhauser Papers

Dates: 1878-2003

Collection Number: MSS 11047

Quantity: 3 feet

Abstract: The collection consists of correspondence, material from various aviation training, flight logs, certificates and identification cards, oral history material, clippings and programs relating to Ameila Earhart, an obituary, newspaper clippings, photographs and post cards, organizational material, and publications, all which relate to Vivian (Gilchrist) Nemhauser’s training and career as a pilot.

Provenance: This collection was transferred to the State Archives Collections from the Museum Division of the State Historical Society of North Dakota in April 2009. The collection was processed, and the finding aid created by Emily J. Ergen in December 2009. Small Manuscript collection 20906 was added to the collection in February 2011.

Property Rights: The State Historical Society of North Dakota owns the property rights to this collection.

Copyrights: Copyrights to this collection remain with the donor, publisher, author, or author's heirs. Researchers should consult the 1976 Copyright Act, Public Law 94-553, Title 17, U.S. Code or an archivist at this repository if clarification of copyright requirements is needed.

Access: This collection is open under the rules and regulations of the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

Citation: Researchers are requested to cite the collection title, collection number, and the State Historical Society of North Dakota in all footnote and bibliographic references.


Vivian Phyllis Gilchrist was born on July 20, 1919, to Mr. and Mrs. W. P. Gilchrist, in Milwaukee, WI. Her family lived in Jamestown, ND and were likely furniture shopping in Milwaukee when Vivian was born. Her father, who had grown up on a farm in southern Minnesota, was in the real estate business in Jamestown, and a former pitcher for a professional minor league baseball team. Her mother was a teacher, graduated from Valley City State Normal School. An only child, Vivian graduated from Jamestown High School in 1937, and went on to graduate from Jamestown College in 1940, in just three years. She went on to teach at a Presbyterian Church mission school in Tennessee, near the Great Smoky Mountains, for a year. Following that, Vivian received a scholarship to the Teachers’ College at Columbia, in the School of Special Education, to become a teacher of the deaf. Instead, she began working as secretary to the president of Jamestown College, President Kroeze, in September of 1941, having had her scholarship postponed.

At the time, the Army was developing a Civilian Pilot Training program. Vivian had been interested in airplanes and flying as a child; Amelia Earhart was her hero as a girl. Alexander Burr, a dean at Jamestown College, got her into the class the following spring; Vivian was the only woman in the program. She began flying on May 4th, 1942, and had her first solo on July 28, 1942. The next fall, she moved to New York, lived at the Lexington School for the Deaf, and studied at the Teachers College. It was here that she first met her future husband, Gustave Nemhauser.

While she was attending the Teachers College, Vivian decided to study and test for her ground instructor license. She earned ground instructor ratings in Navigation, Meteorology and Civil Air Regulations. It was then that she first got involved in the Women Flyers of America, which led her to becoming a WASP (Women’s Air Service Pilots of the Air Force). She graduated from the 318th Army Air Forces Flying Training Detachment in Sweetwater, TX, with the class of 44-W-3 on Saturday, April 15, 1944. Following this graduation, she was employed by the Civil Air Patrol.

In early 1946, Vivian and Dr. Gus Nemhauser married; the couple had three children - Glenn W. (Cotati, CA), Phyllis A. (Bradford), and Jane V. (Meeker, CO). Throughout her life, Vivan (Gilchrist) Nemhauser was a member of the Ninety-Nines (99s), National Aeronautic Association of the USA, Women Flyers of America Inc., Civil Air Patrol, Journal Air Cadet Corps., National Aeronautic Association, Order of Fifinella (WASP). She served as president of Women Flyers of America, Inc. from 1947-1948.

In 1975, Gus passed away; the following year, Vivan moved to West Newbury, VT where she was an administrator of the Orange East Senior Center. In the period of 1977-1978, Vivian was involved in the struggle by WASPs to earn military status, and claim benefits, many having served in World War II as military pilots. Nemhauser was also involved in establishing the Brookside Nursing Home in Bradford, VT and volunteered at a hospice there. A member of American Legion Post No. 78, West Newbury Congregational Church, and in the Women’s Military Aviators Association. Vivan passed away on May 18, 2003, and was survived by her three children, three grand children, and a great-grandson.

Background information on the Womens Airforce Service Pilots (WASP)

On September 28, 1939, Jacqueline Cochran suggested to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt that to relieve male pilots so they could serve in combat, women could fly in non-combat positions. Several years later, two organizations were formed to utilize qualified women pilots for flying duties, designed to mitigate the growing need for pilots to ferry aircraft. In September 1942, the Women's Flying Training Detachment and the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS) were both activated. The Women’s Flying Training Detachment included a training program to qualify women so that they could replace men in various flying duties. The latter organization, the WAFS, used experienced women aviators to ferry aircraft for the Air Corps Ferrying Command, which later became the Air Transport Service. Both programs used women, employed as civilians, in military tasks. On August 5, 1943, the two groups were combined into one organization, Womens Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), which was headed by Ms. Cochran.

Training of women pilots preceded the merger of the organizations, and the requirements for training decreased with time. Trainees were originally required to have a private pilot license and 200 hours of flight time; by November 1942, women without prior flying experience were accepted into the program. Avenger Field, in Sweetwater, TX, hosted the majority of training. With over 1,000 graduates, the WASP pilot training program prepared women to transport aircraft, including bombers and fighters; haul targets for gunnery; and serve as instructors in the Eastern Flying Training Command. General Arnold and WASP director Cochran hoped to militarize and commission the WASP pilots, but by late 1944 the need for female pilots had waned because of the improved military situation combined with lower than expected attrition rates among male pilots. The WASP organization was terminated on Dec. 20, 1944 with the last graduating class at Sweetwater.

WASP members remained civil service employees who did not receive the pay and benefits given to male pilots sharing the same risks. Because of this, President Carter signed legislation providing procedures for former WASPs to be granted veteran status, although with limited benefits. This occurred in November 1977. Finally, in 1979, the first WASPs were given discharge certificates, and it was 1984 before they were awarded World War II Victory Medals and American Theater Campaign Medals for those who had served for one one year.


“The WASPS: Women Pilots of WWII,” (Accessed 9
Dec 2009).

“Timeline of WASP History: Women Airforce Service Pilots of WWII,” Deanie Parrish, Wings
Across America.

Vivian (Gilchrist) Nemhauser Papers. Manuscript 11047. State Historical Society of North
Dakota, State Archives.

“WASP - Women Pilots of World War II,” Jone Johnson Lewis, (Accessed 9 Dec 2009).

“Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASP).” 2009. Airforce Historical Studies Office.


The Vivian (Gilchrist) Nemhauser Papers contains material relating to the flying career and organizational affiliations of Vivian Nemhauser. Many of the records in this collection pertain to Vivian’s involvement in the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), from the mid 1940s to the 1990s. These Papers also trace her aviation history, from cartoons and articles clipped from newspapers beginning in 1927, to her first flying training certificate, through her employment by the Civil Aeronautics Administration and Civil Air Patrol, to her organizational activities later in life.

Three series have been established for the Vivian (Gilchrist) Nemhauser Papers. Series one consists of Vivian’s personal - non organizational - material, Series two of organizational material, and finally, Series three contains publications.

Series I, Vivian (Gilchrist) Nemhauser personal material, 1878-2003, is found in box 1 and measures one fourth of one cubic foot. Materials within this series focus primarily on Vivian’s aviation career, and provide a near complete recording of her early activities. The records are of value to researchers interested in women pilots, since they contain in depth information about Vivian; there are also several clippings and programs of note about Amelia Earhart. Significant biographical information about Vivian Nemhauser can be gleaned from Series one, including two oral interviews of Vivian, her obituary, newspaper clippings about her activities and accomplishments, and from records from her aviation career.

Series II, organizational material, 1932-1997, is located in boxes 1 and 2, measuring one and one quarter cubic feet. The bulk of Series two pertains to the Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASP) organization, which Vivian was involved in from 1944 to the 1990s. The WASP records provide good insight into the activities of the organization, nearly from its inception. There is a fairly complete collection of WASP rosters, dating from 1945-1988, and WASP newsletters, from 1944-1994, with few gaps. Also within the WASP records is information pertaining to the Piper Cub Fly in, “Operation Fifinella,”1946, in which a mass delivery flight of 150 Piper Cub planes flew from Lock Haven, PA, to Cleveland, OH. The planes were flown by WASPs under the direction of Sylvia Miller Reich, to mark the opening of the national air races. At the time, the original operation was the largest mass delivery flight of personal airplanes on record. Also of research value in this collection, is material relating to the WASP struggle to gain rights and benefits as military pilots, who served actively during World War II. Vivian’s part in this effort can be revealed with an examination of these documents.

In addition to materials documenting the history of the WASP, other organizations are documented in Series two, although with fewer material. Organizations included in Series two include Women Flyers of America, Inc., Women in Military Service for America, Women Military Aviators, Inc., Ninety-Nines (99s), Aero Medical Association, National Aeronautic Association, National Commissioned Officers Association of the U.S.A., Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, and the Aerobatic Club of America.

Series III, publications, 1927-1994, is located in boxes 2 and 3, and measures one and one half cubic feet. The publications are divided into those relating to WASPs and women in aviation, those about aviation in general, and newspaper clippings. The publications in box 3 are all oversized, and deal with women in aviation and WASPs.


Series I. Vivian (Gilchrist) Nemhauser personal material, 1878-2003

Consists of correspondence, material from her Civil Aeronautics training course in Jamestown, material from her Army Air Forces Flying Training Detachment study, flight logs, flight cards, identification cards, certificates, and employment at the Civil Aeronautics Administration and Civil Air Patrol. Series I also contains transcripts from two oral history interviews, clippings and material relating to Amelia Earhart, and Vivian’s donation of a statue to the Amelia Earhart Birthplace museum, newspaper clippings about Vivian, transcripts of correspondence from J. C. Wilson to Margaret Jane Naler, and photographs.

Series II. Organizational material, 1932-1997

The organizational material, Series two, deals with organizational material from groups Vivian was involved in, beginning with WASPs. The WASP material contains official correspondence and documents, personal correspondence, news releases, reunion material, records from the Piper Cub Fly in, conference and convention materials, rosters, newsletters 50th anniversary material, items relating to WASP military status, and miscellaneous ephemera.

For the other organizations, Series two contains constitution and bylaws, correspondence, convention information and programs, personal correspondence, bulletins, brochures, membership application, letterhead, meeting announcements, chapter information, stickers and decals, memorial dedications, rosters, invitations, newsletters, and publications. The other organizations in this series include: Women Flyers of America, Inc., Women in Military Service for America, Women Military Aviators, Inc., Ninety-Nines (99s), Aero Medical Association, National Aeronautic Association, National Commissioned Officers Association of the U.S.A., Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, and the Aerobatic Club of America.

Series III. Publications, 1927-1994

Organized chronologically Series three consists of a variety of clippings, booklets and publications dealing with aviation in general, and with women aviators and WASPs. The Series is divided into publications that deal with WASPs and women in aviation first, followed by publications about aviation generally, and then newspaper clippings about a variety of topics. A box of oversize publications about WASPs and women aviators can be found in box 3.


SERIES I: Vivian (Gilchrist) Nemhauser Personal Material


1 Personal correspondence, 1943-1997
2 Civil Aeronautics training course, Jamestown, ND (newspaper clippings, notes and diagram from course), 1940-1941
3 Avenger Field, Sweetwater, TX, 1943-1944 - Vivian’s graduation announcement from the 318th Army Air Forces Flying Training Detachment, Sweetwater, TX. Vivian graduated with the class of 44-W-3 on Saturday, Apr. 15, 1944
- Christmas booklet, 194-
- The Avenger - News from the “Mother-Hive” of the Army WASP’s, Oct. 8, 1943-Apr. 7, 1944
4 Flight logs, 1942-1981
- Vivian’s Student Pilot “Rating Book, May 4, 1942 – June 6, 1943
- Vivian’s Pilot’s Flight Log, May 4, 1942 –Jan. 31, 1981
5 Flight cards, identification cards, certificates, 1940-1948
6 Civil Aeronautics Administration, Assistant Aircraft Communicator at La Guardia Air Field, New York City - official documents requesting employment and acceptance, employee material, 1945
7 Civil Air Patrol - newsletters, correspondence and documents regarding Vivian’s appointment to serve as Adjutant, Manhattan Cadet Training Squadron, Group #8, New York Wing, Civil Air Patrol, 1946-1947
8 Oral History - transcripts of interviews and correspondence, 1977-1998
- Transcript and DVD - interview by Scott Thompson at the Pima Air and Space Museum, Tucson, AZ, Apr. 13, 1998
- Transcript - interview by Sally Van W. Keil at Columbia University, New York, NY, Apr. 23, 1977
9 Ameila Earhart - newspaper clippings, programs (one is signed by Muriel Earhart Morrisey, Amelia’s sister), scholarship, photograph with Muriel Earhart Morrisey, 1930s-1985
10 Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum (Atchison, KS) - Vivian’s donation of a statue of Amelia Earhart, 1997, 1999
11 Vivian (Gilchrist) Nemhauser obituary from the WASP web page, 2003
12 Humor, 1930s, 1969
- Diploma (Dick Dastardly’s Venture squadron, c. 1969) and
- “The Marvelous Inventions of Doctor Huer!” comics clipped from newspapers
- “Tailspin Tommy Flying Club” descriptions of various aircraft, by Hal Forrest
- “Tailspin Tommy Flying Club” - How To Fly, by Hal Forrest
- “Progress of Flight”
13 Newspaper clippings about Vivian Gilchrist Nemhauser, 1956-1997
14 Transcripts of correspondence from J. C. Wilson to Margaret Jane Naler, 1878
15 Photographs and notes from talks given to students
16 Photographs, negatives and post card, 1940s-1990s

SERIES II: Organizational Material

Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASPs)

17 WASPs - Official correspondence and documents, 1944-1945, n.d.
18 WASPs - Correspondence, 1945-1978
19 WASPs - Personal correspondence, 1945-1977
20 WASPs - News releases (and extra copy of address by General H. H. Arnold,
Commanding General, Army Air Forces, before WASP ceremony, Dec. 7, 1944), 1944-1945
21 WASP Reunion material, 1969, 1972, 1976
22 The Piper Cub Fly In and first WASP reunion, Lock Haven, PA, Aug. 1946, 1946-1947, 1995
- Correspondence, questionnaire, publications
- Detailed sectional aeronautical charts for Chicago, Milwaukee, Dubuque, IA, the Twin Cities
- Piper Aircraft Corp. material, and flight kit for mass flight of about 33 planes from Lock Haven to Cleveland, OH, and other destinations
23 WASP Conference material, 1978, 1992, 1994
24 WASP National Convention, 1949
25 “Lost” WASPs listing, Oct. 2, 1973
26 WASP Rosters - dated: 1945, 1949, 1967, 1970, 1970-1971, 1971-1972
27 WASP Rosters - 1973, 1974-1975, 1977
28 WASP Rosters - 1980, 1982, 1984, 1986, 1988


1 WASP Newsletters, 1944-1947
2 WASP Newsletters (plus announcement of elected officers), 1948, 1951, 1964-1975
3 WASP Newsletters, 1976-1978, 1994
4 WASPs 50th Anniversary material, Oct. 15, 1994
5 WASP miscellaneous - incorporation, dues renewal, corporation status, ballot, sales order
forms, meeting minutes (New York Chapter), annual meeting material, invitations to events, 1946-1978
6 Correspondence and material regarding WASP military status, 1977
7 The Stars and Stripes newspaper regarding WASP military status, 1977
8 The Stars and Stripes newspaper regarding WASP military status, 1978-1979

Order of the Fifinella
9 Walt Disney’s “Fifinella,” 1946-1978
- Drawings, description of “Fifinella,” notepads
- Vivian’s signed membership cards to The Order of Fifinella, 1946-1978

Women Flyers of America, Inc.
10 Women Flyers of America, Inc., 1945-1957
- Constitution and bylaws, as amended and adopted June 18, 1946
- Official correspondence, 1945-1957
- Convention information and programs, 1946, 1948, 1950
- Personal correspondence (to and from Vivian), 1947-1965
- The Woman Flyer: Official bulletin of the Women Flyers of America, Inc., 1946, 1949-1950, 1955, n.d.
- Brochure- Membership application- Letterhead- Annual meeting announcements, 1949, 1951
- Metropolitan Chapter (New York City) - lecture series, membership information, newsletters 1947, 1949
- Stickers and decals (National Aeronautic Association [NAA] and Women
Flyers of America)

Women in Military Service for America
11 Women in Military Service for America memorial dedication, October 17, 1997
Women Military Aviators, Inc. (WMA)
12 Women Military Aviators, Inc. (WMA) Roster - December 1994

13 Ninety-Nines, 1932-1997
- Dinner invitation - New York-New Jersey Section, May 20, 1932
- Questionnaire (membership information), 194-
- Dinner dance program, March 8, 1946
- Newsletter, December 15, 1947
- 20th Anniversary Celebration book, October 3-8, 1949
- 40th Anniversary International Convention material, July 9-13, 1969
- newspaper clipping, Apr. 13, 1966
- International Women Pilots: Official Publication of the Ninety-Nines Inc., July/Aug 1997
- cards - birthday and get well

Miscellaneous organizations
14 Miscellaneous organization material
- Aero Medical Association
- Officers’ Club Bainbridge Army Air Field (Bainbridge, GA)
- National Aeronautic Association
- National Commissioned Officers Association of the U.S.A.
- Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
- Aerobatic Club of America
- Veterans Administration
- Congress of American Women


15 Publications (WASPS and women in aviation), 1950-1977
- “Golden Anniversary Years: Women Pilots of WWII,” The World War II Times, n.d.
- “Wonderful if You Like It,” by Marion Hart, Air Facts, The Magazine for Pilots, Feb 1950, pp. 33-41
- “Miami Maneuvers,” by Nonie Horton, Air Facts, The Magazine for Pilots, March 1950, pp. 8-17
- “Skirts Flying,” Sally Buegeleisen, Flying, June 1967, p. 20
- “Lady AWTAR Comes of Age,” Edward D. Muhlfeld, Flying, June 1967, pp. 98- 100
- “I Was A WASP,” by Peg Roberts, Private Pilot, July 1971
- “Those Magnificent Women in Their Flying Machines,” Sally Van Wagenen Keil, Viva Magazine, May 1977, pages 44-47 and 100-102
16 Publications (WASPs and women in aviation) (continued), 1991-1994
- United States Women in Aviation 1940-1985, by Deborah G. Douglas, Pub. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington and London, 1991
- Airman, October 1993 (section on WASPS)
- Flying the Zuni Mountains, by Ann Darr, Published by Forest Woods Media Productions Inc., 1994
17 Publications (Aviation), 1931-1977
- “I’ve Got Wings!” Published by the U.S. Army Air Forces, Office of Flying Safety, n.d.
- “An Adventure on the Air...,” by Floyd Gibbons, published by Libbey Owens
Ford Glass Company, Toledo, OH, n.d.
- “Captain Frank Hawks Sky Patrol Pilot’s Manual,” published by Posts’s Bran Flakes, n.d.
- “Man’s Wings: How to Fly in Word and Picture,” J. M. Richardson and John McCormick, published by the Reilly & Lee Co., 1931
- “Kellogg’s Cadet Aviation Corps Handbook, Howie Wing, Cadet,” Published by the Kellogg Co., 1938
- “The Cadet Aviation Corps Official Handbook: Howie Wing, Commanding Officer,” compiled under the supervision of Captain Willfred G. Moore, U.S. Army Air Corps Reserve, Published by the Kellogg Company, Battle Creek, Mich., 1939
- “Fifty Famous Flyers, A Collection of Sketched Biographies of Men with Wings who have Blazed the Skyways of the World,” Dick Kirschbaum, Publisher Charles Dewar Co., New Jersey, 1941
- “Civilian Wings for Everyone,” Shell Oil Company, Inc., 1945
- American Helicopter, Vol. 1, no. 1, December 1945
- National Aeronautics, Vol. XXVI, No. 4, April 1947
- “The Lindbergh Memorial Medallion Collection,” International Silver Company, 1977
18 Newspaper clippings, 1927-1975
19 Newspaper clippings, 1927-1975
20 Newspaper clippings, 1927-1975


Oversize Publications

- “Girl Pilots, A Photo essay,” Life Magazine, July 19, 1943, p. 73-81
- “The Long Way Up, A Book Review of Jacqueline Cochran’s book The Stars at Noon,” by Thyra Samter Winslow, The New York Times Book Review, October 17, 1954, p. 5
- “The Price of Fame, Fifty Years after the Flight,” by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, The New York Times Magazine, May 8, 1977, section 6, pp. 12-28
- Who Were the WASP? A World War II Record, by Doris Brinker Tanner, published by the Sweetwater Reporter, 1989

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