Guide to the Records of the Air Law Institute

Collection Title: Records of the Air Law Institute
Dates: 1929-1935
Identification: 17/22
Creator: Air Law Institute (Chicago, Ill.)
Extent: 4 Boxes
Language of Materials: English
Abstract: This series is comprised of administrative records of the Air Law Institute, and covers roughly the first half of the Institute's existence. The series as a whole is made up almost exclusively of correspondence, most of which issued from or was addressed to the office of Fred Fagg.
Acquisition Information: These records were transferred from the Northwestern University School of Law on June 13, 1995, as Accession No. 95-84.
Processing Information: Mohammed Mohammed and Allen Streicker, April, 1999.
Separated Materials: Approximately three inches of duplicate and extraneous materials were discarded.
Conditions Governing Access: None.
Related Materials: For additional records of the Journal of Air Law and Commerce (1947-1962) and the Journal of Radio Law (1967), see Series 17/6: School of Law Legal Journals, Administrative Records of, 1910-1970, Box 2.
Repository: Northwestern University Archives
Deering Library, Room 110
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston, IL, 60208-2300
URL: http://www.library.northwestern.edu/archives
Email: archives@northwestern.edu
Phone: 847-491-3354

Biographical/Historical Information

The Air Law Institute, affiliated with the Northwestern University Law School, was founded in 1929 to foster the development of American air law and provide information about air law worldwide. These goals were promoted by: providing scholarships and fellowships for its participants; issuing reports and opinions on matters relative to air law; sponsoring an air law Summer Institute and the ensuing, annual National Legislative Air Conference (a precursor of the National Association of State Aviation Officials); sending participants to international conferences and sponsoring lectures nationally; building a comprehensive reference library; and publishing two journals, the Journal of Air Law and the Journal of Radio Law, financed by private contributions.

The Institute was organized as a not-for-profit corporation, and was patterned after the German Institut für Luftrecht. The Institute’s reach spanned both academia and business, as evidenced in the fact that the president of its Board of Directors was Robert R. McCormick, editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune. The Air Law Institute was in operation until 1940.

To a considerable degree, the Institute owed its existence to the drive of its first director, Law School professor Frederick Dow Fagg, Jr., himself a former aviator with combat experience in World War I. An air law expert of renown, Dr. Fagg at various times served as secretary of the National Association of State Aviation Officials, legal counsel to the Illinois Aeronautics Commission and the Federal Aviation Commission, consultant in the revision of the federal Civil Air Regulations, and as director of the Federal Bureau of Air Commerce. Immediately before coming to Northwestern in 1929, Dr. Fagg had been an exchange professor at the Institut fur Luftrect, where he drew inspiration for a similar research institution in the United States. Upon his return he was recruited by Northwestern to become managing director of just such a project. An extended biographical sketch of Dr. Fagg in the Fred Dow Fagg, Jr. (1896- ) Papers, 1937-1957 (Series 5/3, Northwestern University Archives), documents the range of Fagg’s aeronautics career, along with other facets of a man committed to aeronautics, education, the law, and government.

The Journal of Air Law, a quarterly first published in 1930, was initially a collaborative effort among the law schools of Northwestern University, the University of Southern California, Washington University in St. Louis, and Yale University. This collaboration reflected Dr. Fagg’s intention to elicit the participation of law schools located in strategic urban nodes of air traffic in major sections of the country (Tulane University in New Orleans was also invited to participate but declined). After one issue Yale’s participation was withdrawn, after one year that of Washington University as well, and by 1936 the collaboration of Southern California had lapsed, leaving the Journal solely in the hands of Northwestern.

The Journal was published from 1930-1942 by the Northwestern University Press and, when publication was resumed after a war-related hiatus lasting from 1942 to 1947, by the Northwestern University Schools of Law and Commerce under the auspices of the NU Institute of Aeronautics. In 1939, in fact, the Schools of Commerce and Law teamed up to edit the Journal, whose name was changed accordingly to the Journal of Air Law and Commerce. In the late 1950s the Journal’s administration was transferred to the NU Transportation Center. The Journal is still published today, but in 1961 its operations were assumed by the Institute of Aerospace Law at Southern Methodist University.

The first managing editor of the Journal of Air Law was Dr. Fagg himself, while members of the various editorial staffs included both Dean John H. Wigmore of the NU Law School as associate editor and a designated student editor. Editorial boards were comprised of international academic, corporate, and civilian and military government experts, and in the Journal’s early years representatives of each of the constituent law schools were included on the board. Its contents included lengthy articles by acknowledged authorities, editorials, notes and comments by law students, legal digests of relevant cases and texts of relevant documents, and book reviews. The information available on readership reveals that in 1932 there were about 300 subscribers scattered over forty states and sixteen foreign countries, and suggests that they were comprised of members of the legal profession, government officials, industry officials, and academics who specialized in the study of air law.

The Journal of Radio Law was established in 1931 when it became apparent to the editors of the Journal of Air Law that the volume of materials being submitted to them on radio law, some of which appeared in their journal, warranted the establishment a separate publication. A member of the Northwestern University Law School faculty, Louis G. Caldwell, was engaged as editor of a discrete journal of radio law under the auspices of the Northwestern University and University of Southern California Law Schools. Like its sister publication, the Journal of Radio Law was managed in conjunction with the Air Law Institute and came out quarterly. Its base of subscribers differed somewhat from that of the the Journal of Air Law in that it was composed to a significant degree of media organizations. Although its circulation statistics for 1932 do not seem to lag far behind those of the successful Journal of Air Law—250 subscribers in thirty-two states and twelve countries—the Journal of Radio Law was published for little more than a year before it disappeared.

Scope and Content

This series is comprised of administrative records of the Air Law Institute, and covers roughly the first half of the Institute's existence. The series as a whole is made up almost exclusively of correspondence, most of which issued from or was addressed to the office of Fred Fagg. The correspondence, involving international communication with a wide range of specialists and amateurs, reveals the extent of interest in the legal issues raised by the nascent field of air law.

The General Files contain correspondence drafted in the course of the operations of the Air Law Institute. The Administrative Correspondence subseries deals with such matters as lecture arrangements, the Summer Institute, points of air law, and the functioning of the two journals (e. g., circulation and correspondence with authors). The Subject Files concern both topics of importance to the Institute generally, such as financial statements, air law conferences, and the Summer Institute, and issues relating specifically to its two journals. It will be noted that there is some overlap of subject matter between the Administrative Correspondence and Subject Files, as for instance in the case of the Summer Institute. Of particular interest is the Annual Report (Box 2, Folder 10 ), which includes a short history and overview of the Air Law Institute. The folder “Latin American Promotion of the Journal of Air Law” (Box 2, Folder 1) illustrates the international scope of the Institute, which made a particular effort to distribute the journal in official circles on that continent.

The second section, Journal of Air Law records, comprised almost entirely of correspondence generated by Dr. Fagg's office, covers such standard publishing activities as assembling the editorial board, circulation and subscriptions, promotion, layout, and the like. Its arrangement is chronological. One matter covered in Box 1, Folder 2 is a prospective (but finally abortive) merger of the Journal with another similar serial published by the New York University Law School, the Air Law Review. Some of the records in this section pertain also to the Journal of Radio Law.

The content of the Journal of Radio Law , the third section of the series, is similar to that of the previous one, and is also arranged chronologically. The correspondence in this section emanated from or was received by the office of editor Louis G. Caldwell. The material in these folders sheds little light on the reasons for the abrupt demise of the short-lived publication.

Addition, Box 4

A guest register, embossed with the corporate seal of the Air Law Institute, has been added to the series, as folder 8 of box 4. Signatures appearing on the pages of the register date mainly from 1930 although a few carry the year 1933. The signature of the celebrated actress Jean Harlow (1911-1937) may be found under the date September 27, [1930].

Arrangement of Materials

The series is organized in three sections: the General Files of the Air Law Institute, subdivided into Administrative Correspondence and Subject Files; Journal of Air Law records; and records of the Journal of Radio Law.

Subjects

Corporate Name

Air Law Institute (Chicago, Ill.)--Administration

Subjects

Aeronautics--Law and legislation--United States

Radio--Law and legislation--United States


Container List / Contents

  • General Files
    • Administrative Correspondence
      • Administrative Correspondence, 1929Box 1, Folder 1
      • Administrative Correspondence, 1930Box 1, Folder 2
      • Administrative Correspondence, 1931Box 1, Folder 3
      • Administrative Correspondence, 1932Box 1, Folder 4
      • Administrative Correspondence, 1933Box 1, Folder 5
      • Administrative Correspondence, 1934Box 1, Folder 6
      • Administrative Correspondence, 1935Box 1, Folder 7
    • Subject Files
      • Aerial Navigation Law, 1932-1933, 1936Box 1, Folder 8
      • Airway Maps, 1932Box 1, Folder 9
      • Annual Reports and Budgets, 1930-1932Box 1, Folder 10
      • International Chamber of Commerce Conference, 1931Box 1, Folder 11
      • Journal of Air Law and Journal of Radio Law Circulation Records, 1930-1931Box 1, Folder 12
      • Landowner Rights in Air Space, 1931-1933Box 1, Folder 13
      • Latin American Promotion of the Journal of Air Law, 1930Box 2, Folder 1
      • National Legislative Air Conference, 1930Box 2, Folder 2
      • Public Lectures, 1930-1932Box 2, Folder 3
      • Street and Highway Safety Conferences, 1930Box 2, Folder 4
      • Summer Institute, 1929-1930Box 2, Folder 5
  • Journal of Air Law
    • Administrative Correspondence, 1929Box 2, Folder 6
    • Administrative Correspondence, Jan.-March 1930Box 2, Folder 7
    • Administrative Correspondence, April-June 1930Box 2, Folder 8
    • Administrative Correspondence, July-Sept. 1930Box 2, Folder 9
    • Administrative Correspondence, Oct.- Dec. 1930Box 3, Folder 1
    • Administrative Correspondence, Jan.-March 1931Box 3, Folder 2
    • Administrative Correspondence, April- Dec. 1931Box 3, Folder 3
    • Administrative Correspondence, 1932Box 3, Folder 4
    • Administrative Correspondence, 1933-1934Box 3, Folder 5
    • Administrative Correspondence, 1935Box 3, Folder 6
  • Journal of Radio Law
    • Administrative Correspondence, Jan.-March 1931Box 3, Folder 7
    • Administrative Correspondence, April-June 1931Box 3, Folder 8
    • Administrative Correspondence, July-Dec. 1931Box 4, Folder 1
    • Administrative Correspondence, Jan.-April 1932Box 4, Folder 2
    • Administrative Correspondence, May-Dec. 1932Box 4, Folder 3
    • Administrative Correspondence, Jan.-April 1933Box 4, Folder 4
    • Administrative Correspondence, May- Dec. 1933Box 4, Folder 5
    • Administrative Correspondence, 1934Box 4, Folder 6
    • Administrative Correspondence, 1935Box 4, Folder 7
  • Addition
      Scope and Contents: A guest register, embossed with the corporate seal of the Air Law Institute, has been added to the series, as folder 8 of box 4. Signatures appearing on the pages of the register date mainly from 1930 although a few carry the year 1933. The signature of the celebrated actress Jean Harlow (1911-1937) may be found under the date September 27, [1930].
    • Air Law Institute Guest Register, 1930, 1933Box 4, Folder 8