Cleared to Land: The Records of Pan American World Airways, Inc.
PAN AM had several divisions, bases and hubs, and its headquarters which were orinially located where PAN AM began, and then moved to its later headquarters to New York. During its re-oranizational plan in 1990/91 to re-structure as more South America focused airline, PAN AM moved its headquarters to Florida again.
So the recoords were somewhat located all over the world concerning its divisions, bases and hubs, and its main records at last in Florida. PAN AM’s records need to be saved/sighted with regards of its worldwide records, the U.S. and headquarters‘ records landed at the University of Miami and could be saved by the PAN AM Historical foundation. Concerning the worldwide records this project could find out and sight at least part of the PAN AM I.G.S. German records: We found them at the Bundesarchiv (German Federal State Archive) which after more than 25 years still as not been sorted and therefore non- accessible. We are in conversation and will try to assist the Bundesarchiv with their archived PAN AM records of a history of more than 50 years of operation, with about 70 Million passengers, and about 3000 employees in Germany, an outstanding portion of German aviation history by PAN AM as well.
Please read more about this chapter of PAN AM’s records of here:
The University of Miami Libraries Special Collections is home to the Pan American World Airways, Inc. Records. From Pan Am’s founding in 1927 through its closing in 1991, Pan Am was a pioneer in the development of aviation equipment, air routes, commercial passenger service, navigation techniques, and communication systems. Fifteen hundred boxes of administrative, legal, financial, technical, and promotional materials as well as internal publications, photographs, audiovisual material and graphic material form this vast resource. A cataloging effort supported by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission has allowed these materials to be organized thematically.
On October 6, 1992, Pan American World Airways, Inc. filed a motion with the United States Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York, asking for it to authorize the abandonment of “certain unnecessary and burdensome records” and to approve the establishment of a procedure to select such records for abandonment in an effort to minimize storage and maintenance costs. This Motion of Abandonment of Property led to the auctioning off of the company’s corporate records and the creation of the Pan American World Airways, Inc. Records.
The records were described as “internal corporate files and operational documents […] encompassing everything from cancelled flight coupons, corporate business records and financial documents to environmental, aircraft safety, and other records required to be maintained by various federal and state regulatory agencies.” The records were stored in seven locations: (1) Rockleigh, New Jersey, (2) Jamaica, New York, (3) Miami, Florida, (4) Tappan, New York, (5) Washington, DC, (6) Pierce Leahy Corp. (now Iron Mountain Inc.) facilities, and overseas locations.
The following records were not to be abandoned: (i) environmental records required to be kept by relevant federal regulatory agencies; (ii) employee medical and personnel records; (iii) files and records maintained by debtors’ legal department (including those relating to both pending and inactive litigation); (iv) tax-related records; (v) aircraft maintenance and flight safety records required to be maintained by the Federal Aviation Administration; (vi) all pension records relating to the defined benefit and defined contribution plans previously administered by Pan Am; and (vii) any records considered material or relevant to ongoing litigation in which debtors were involved.
At the time of the motion, only a “discrete portion” of Pan Am’s total records had been selected for abandonment. The process whereby these records were selected was described as “a careful process of internal review conducted by operational personnel.” Pan Am proposed an “additional multi-layered review and approval process” that involved submittal of a form describing the specific records sought to be disposed of to the following parties: in-house legal and tax departments; outside counsel (Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton); counsel for the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors; counsel for the Ad Hoc Committee of Administrative and Priority Creditors; and counsel for Delta Air Lines, Inc. It is not clear whether this process was adopted.
Acquisition of Records by Pan Am Historical Foundation and the University of Miami
At the bankruptcy auction, the Pan Am Historical Foundation and the University of Miami jointly purchased over 85,000 boxes containing what was described as “historical material and routine archives.” Of these boxes, 7,385 were selected for keeping. The boxes came from the following departments:
- All departments, 1926-1948 (421 boxes)
- Communications, 1949-1985 (6 boxes)
- Contracts, Gov’t, 1949-1985 (25 boxes)
- Engineering, 1949-1985 (13 boxes)
- Executive, 1949-1985 (843 boxes)
- Legal, 1949-1985 (1,351 boxes)
- Library, 1949-1985 (12 boxes)
- Marketing, 1949-1985 (2,065 boxes)
- National Airlines, 1949-1985 (977 boxes)
- Public Relations, 1949-1985 (71 boxes)
- Secretary, 1949-1985 (1,029 boxes)
- Security, 1949-1985 (10 boxes)
- Technical Assistance Program, 1949-1985 (562 boxes)
About one hundred former Pan Am employees, organized by the Pan Am Historical Foundation and under the guidance of the University of Miami Libraries Special Collections, then participated in a culling project during which the collection was reduced to around two thousand boxes. They focused on materials from before the 1930s, during WWII and the Airport Development Program, and letters from former Pan Am presidents.
The University of Miami Special Collections received all the paper, photographic, and audiovisual records, totaling 1,600 boxes, in two shipments (in 1992 and 1998). HistoryMiami (then The Historical Association of Southern Florida) and the Smithsonian received the 3-D objects.
Bibliography of Internal Organs
Pan American World Airways, Inc. published many periodicals, including employee newsletters, which it called “internal organs,” as well as travel guides and in-flight magazines. Listed below are the more than one hundred periodical titles found in the Pan Am records, most of which are internal organs. To view a periodical please submit a request via Aeon, the online user request management system for Special Collections and UM Libraries. All Special Collections materials are for room use only. Located on the 8th floor of the Otto G. Richter Library, Special Collections is open for research Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Africa News Letter
Clipper British Style
Clipper Western European Style
EETF (Electronic Environmental Task Force) Outlook
Executive System Memoranda
International Affairs Bulletin
Jet Journal of Knowledge
The Jet Set
Maintenance Department Employees’ News Letter
Management Newsletter (Latin American Division)
New York Division News
New Yorker In-Flight Service JFK
News Digest (Executive Staff)
News from Pan Am Southwest Region
News LAX Style
Notes from Headquarters and Around the World
PAA Fares and Ticketing Guide
PAA MEC Newsletter
Pan Am Consumer Action
Pan Am Goes National Merger Briefing
Pan Am Holiday
Pan Am News
Pan Am News Catering Services
Pan Am News Letter
Pan Am Newsgram Southern Region
Pan Am Newsletter
Pan Am Northeast News
Pan Am Pride
Pan Am Quipper
Pan Am WorldPass Bulletin
Pan American Athletic and Social Club
Pan American Clipper (New York)
Pan Am’s Calendar of Overseas Events
Pan Am’s World Tours
Passenger Service Briefs
Passenger Service Bulletin
Personnel Information Bulletin
Public Affairs Report published by Pan Am pilots
Report to Employees
Service Newsletter Overseas Division
SST Supporting and Serving the Team
Welcome to New York
World Services News
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University of Miami Libraries
Coral Gables, Florida 33124-0320
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