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Frank A. Spencer (1913-2001) Papers

Identifier: 24/5

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Scope and Contents

The Frank A. Spencer papers fill eleven and one-half boxes and span the years 1941 to 1998. They are divided into biographical files, correspondence, course files, Airline Pilots Association and American Pilots Association files, publications files, research files, speech files, and transportation conference materials.

The biographical files fill one box. They contain Spencer's flight logs, clippings and press releases, tributes from Northwestern University, resumes, and other items.

The correspondence files fill half a box and are divided into four subcategories: airline industry, personal, transportation building, and Northwestern University business. The airline industry file contains correspondence to and from airline executives and typically conveying Spencer's opinions for airline improvement. Included is a 1957 letter from United States Vice President Richard M. Nixon. The personal file contains letters and notes to and from Spencer's contacts outside of work, such as family and home improvement professionals. The transportation building file represents Spencer's attempts to fund and expedite the construction of what became Chambers Hall. University business correspondence reflects Spencer's dealings with Northwestern University and its bureaucracy.

The course files fill approximately one and one-half boxes and contain materials on courses that Spencer appears to have audited within the Transportation Center as well as on those he taught. These files mainly include lecture notes but often include syllabi and other handouts.

Files relating to the Airline Pilots Association and the American Pilots Association fill most of box four and pertain to the cases of pilots brought before Spencer and union colleagues. With the American Pilots Association and the Air Line Pilots Association Spencer negotiated many cases that are unrepresented here because of a 1990s purging of files in preparation for a move. Thus, the files found here represent only a small sample of Spencer's participation in the unions' affairs. Notable in this category are the three folders on Spencer's own age discrimination case.

Publication files fill approximately two boxes and contain many of Spencer's articles and research reports. The files contain drafts and notes as well as the occasional transportation journal or magazine in which the work appeared.

Research files fill approximately half a box and include both handwritten and typed notes Spencer made in preparation for writing an article. One large file contains selected airline statistics for the majority of the 1970's.

The speech files fill just under one box and consist of notes and outlines for presentations Spencer delivered, often at the Kellogg Graduate School of Management or at transportation conventions.

The transportation conference notes fill approximately three and one half boxes. They represent Spencer's participation in many transportation-related symposia and conventions during the period of his service at Northwestern. These files consist of stenographic pads filled with notes and reflections on the content and effect of the programs presented at these industry related gatherings.


  • 1941-1998


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is stored off-site and requires two business days advance notice for retrieval. Please contact the McCormick Library at or 847-491-3635 for more information or to schedule an appointment to view the collection.


12.00 Boxes

Language of Materials



Frank A. (Francis Auten) Spencer received a bachelor's degree in economics from Northwestern University, and serviced in the U.S. Army Air Transport Command during World War II. He worked as a commercial pilot for American Airlines from 1944 to 1973. He served as a negotiator for the Air Line Pilots Association for fourteen years. Thereafter, he was National Secretary of the same union for eight years. After his retirement, became a consultant for the Allied Pilots Association. Spencer joined the Northwestern faculty in 1973 with a joint appointment as a lecturer in transportation policy and management in the Graduate School of Management and the Transportation Center. He became an assistant to the director of the Transportation Center in 1974 and an associate professor of policy and environment in 1975. He retired from teaching in 1983. His papers fill eleven and one-half boxes and span the years 1941 to 1998. They are organized into biographical files, correspondence, course files (courses attended; courses taught), Airline Pilots Association and American Pilots Association, publications, research files, speech files, transportation conference materials, and notes.


The papers of Frank A. Spencer are organized into: biographical files (in alphabetical order); correspondence (arranged by topic); courses attended (arranged by course number); courses taught (arranged by course number); Airline Pilots Association and American Pilots Association (organized by topic and date); publications (in alphabetical order); research files (in alphabetical order); speech files (in alphabetical order); transportation conference materials (arranged by name and date); notes (arranged by date).

Method of Acquisition

Transferred to the University Archives from the Transportation Center on September 5, 2003 (Accession #03-186).

Separated Materials

Approximately four linear feet of duplicates and extraneous materials were discarded during accessioning.

Processing Information

Meghan Courtney; August 14, 2006.

Guide to the Frank A. Spencer (1913-2001) Papers
Meghan Courtney
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Library Details

Part of the Northwestern University Archives Repository

Deering Library, Level 3
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston IL 60208-2300 US