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Yolanda Spirito Collection

 Collection
Identifier: 2008.001-C
The Yolanda Spirito Collection is comprised of personal papers, photographs, and printed material which relate to Yolanda Spirito's career in aviation, her employer's (Paul Mantz) private airline, and aviation history from the lates 1920s to the early 1950s, including women's history in aviation.

The collection is organized into three series. The first series is Personal Papers, 1908-1969, undated. Spirito's scrapbooks are the largest contribution to this series. The bulk dates of the material within the scrapbooks are 1928-1931. The smallest scrapbook consists mostly of newspaper clippings about prominent pilots from the time period. The two other scrapbooks contain primarily photographs, and most these are of Spirito with other aeronautical personnel. The next largest contribution to this series are two charter rates books and one Paul Mantz Air Services manual, all three of which pertain to Paul Mantz Air Services. Smaller contributions to this series include documents pertaining to flight instruction, correspondence of an aeronautical and commercial nature, two pilot flight logs, one engine log, and documents pertaining to Frank Belcher's airplane. The flight instruction material consists of documents from Spirito's career as a flight student, documents from her career as a flight instructor, and documents with no known connection to any particular individual.

The second series is Photographs and Graphic Images, 1928-1989, undated. This series contains photographs that pertain to Paul Mantz, including the Bendix Air Races, Paul Mantz Air Services with its staff, facilities, and aircraft, and the Lockheed Air Terminal where the Mantz services were located. While some of the Mantz photographs might be originals, many of them are probably copies which Spirito obtained. This series also contains photographs of Spirito, photographs and prints of Beechcraft aircraft and Lockheed aircraft, and photographs of prominent pilots, approximately half of which are autographed. There are no identified photographs of Spirito's family in this series. The scrapbooks in the first series contain what are probably photographs of her family, but many of these photographs are insufficiently identified.

The largest series in this collection is Printed Material, 1930-1960, undated, most of which is not about Spirito, but which is material she may have used while alive. The largest contribution to this series is a collection of aviation magazines, particularly Air Facts magazines from 1949-1953. The next largest contribution to this series is a collection of manuals, most of which were issued by the United States Department of Commerce. The series also contains radio aids, quick reference material for pilots, reports from the U.S. Department of Commerce and one from the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, promotional booklets and sheets advertising aircraft and flight instruments, and newspaper clippings regarding Spirito and other pilots.

Dates

  • 1908-1989, inclusive
  • Majority of material found within 1929-1959,

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

Items in this collection are protected by applicable copyright laws.

Extent

5.5 Linear Feet

Biographical / Historical

Yolanda Spirito was born on January 19, 1909, probably in California. As a young woman, Spirito developed an interest in aeronautics and closely followed the lives and accomplishments of contemporary prominent pilots through newspapers and photographs. Spirito began to fly in 1927 at Glendale Airport, but when her father forbade her from future flying, she found work at a nearby bank. On nights when she was supposedly working late at the bank, she stole away to the airport and secretly continued her flight instruction. By 1929, she was receiving flight instruction at Mines Field in California from instructor Al Lary, to whom she became engaged that same year. On March 28, 1930, Spirito earned her private pilot's license.

Spirito participated in flying competitions and won her first air race during the dedication ceremonies of the Mines Field Airport. She may have been a member of and at the least participated in events hosted by the Ninety-Nines International Organization of Women Pilots. She became the twenty-fifth woman to receive a transport pilot's license. Spirito was also a flight instructor and taught actors Edgar Bergen and George Brent how to fly. Before World War II, she taught Civilian Pilot Training programs and continued as a flight instructor at Mira Loma Flight Academy after the war began. When the war ended, she was working in a control tower at the Lockheed Air Terminal in Burbank, California. By approximately 1945, she became the traffic, sales, and publicity director for Hollywood stunt pilot Paul Mantz and worked for his private chartering service, Paul Mantz Air Services, which was also located at the Lockheed Air Terminal in Burbank.

Little is known of Spirito's later professional and personal life. In 1969, she rented a high-end home called Brisas Del Mar in Acapulco. There is nothing to indicate that she ever married Al Lary, nor is there any record of her marrying anyone else. Spirito died in August 1977 in Los Angeles at the age of 68.

Sources:

"U.S. Social Security Death Index for Yolanda Spirito." www.familysearch.org. Accessed on July 11, 2011.

The Yolanda Spirito Collection, collection 2008.01-C, James G. Gee Library Special Collections, Texas A

Arrangement

As most of the collection's original order was indiscernable and/or unusable, the archvisit created an order for the collection. Materials in the collection are arranged alphabetically and thereunder chronologically. The manuals are arranged alphabetically by the producer's name in the form in which that name appears on the manuals. For example, manuals from the United States Department of War are arranged under "War Department," since the latter appears on manuals while the former does not. Manuals are thereunder arranged chronologically. Instances where the archivist found and maintained original order in the collection are noted on the file level in the finding aid. Folders in the oversized boxes (boxes 7 and 8) are arranged by bulk, with the heaviest items on the bottom.

Processing Information

Newspaper clippings were photocopied and the originals were discarded. Two of the magazines contained mold, were photocopied, and the originals were discarded. The 13"x22" scrapbook has been divided into three parts: bound pages, separated pages that were not found within the scrapbook cover (these pages were not torn and the cover was intact, so they were probably purposefully removed from the scrapbook or never included inside it), and smaller pages integrated among the separated pages. The archivist segregated these smaller pages for preservation reasons. Each of the first two scrapbook parts has its own pagination and the third part has been noted to indicate where its pages were found among the separated pages. The archivist referenced the following book while processing and describing photographs related to Paul Mantz:

Dwiggins, Don. Hollywood Stunt Pilot: The Biography of Paul Mantz. New York: Doubleday, 1967.
Title
Yolanda Spirito Collection
Status
completed
Author
Caroline Craig
Date
7/12/2011
Description rules
dacs

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections, Gee Library, Texas A&M University-Commerce Repository

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