Historical Documents
1 The Chater Report 2 The Lambrecht Photo
3 An Answering Wave 4 A Letter to Gallagher
5 MacPherson’s Report 6 Lambrecht’s Report
7 Friedell’s Report 8 The Collopy Letter
9 The Luke Field Inventory 10 The Kelly Johnson Telegrams
11 Eric Bevington’s Journal 12 The Bones Chronology
13 Gallagher’s Ninth Progress Report 14 Gallagher’s Eighth Progress Report
15 The Floyd Kilts Story 16 The Brines Letter
17 Betty’s Notebook 18 The Colorado Lookout
19 Inventory of Gallagher’s Effects 20 The Wreck of the Norwich City
21 A Letter Home From Sid Harvey 22 A Gallagher Gallery
23 The Hooven Report 24 An Avalanche of Psychics
25 New Zealand Pacific Aviation Survey Expedition:General Report 26 Pacific Islands Survey Expedition: Gardner Island
27 Maps and Photographs from the Survey Expedition 28 M. H. Hay’s Journal
29 “Nikumaroro” by P. B. Laxton 30 “The Colonization of the Phoenix Islands” by H. E. Maude
31 The Helen Day Letter Collection 32 The NTSB Report on 2-2-V-1
33 The Luke Field Crash Report 34 The Pan American Airways Memos
35 The Carey Diary 36 The Carey Photographs
37 The Carey Article 38 The Cooper Report
39 The Pearson Paper 40 Lee & Pearson Background Materials
41 Lockheed Report 487: Range Study of Lockheed Electra Bimotor Airplane 42 Letters
43 Logs 44 Reports
45 The Tarawa Archives 46 Memorandum for Assistant Secretary Gibbons
47 Sir Harry Luke: Notes from the PRO. 48 D.C.M. Macpherson, Service Record

25 July 1937
The Chater Report The Chater Report was written by Eric Chater of Guinea Airways in response to a request by his friend, M. E. Griffin of Placer Management, Ltd. Griffin had been asked by the Bureau of Air Commerce in the States to use his contacts in New Guinea to find out what had happened in Lae. The report was sent to Griffin, and sat for almost 60 years until an executive of Placer Dome, Ltd.of Vancouver, BC, discovered the original file while looking for something else.

9 July 1937

The Lambrecht Photo This U.S. Navy photo is the only picture known to have been taken of Gardner Island during the 1937 search for Amelia Earhart. The photographer is unknown, but this print of the photo, obtained from an archive in New Zealand, is inscribed “U.S. Navy (pilot) July 9, 1937” on the reverse. That is the date the three aircraft from U.S.S. Colorado flew over Gardner Island. The senior aviator on that mission was Lt. John O. Lambrecht. The handwritten north arrow points due west.
February 1999
An Answering Wave This article was originally written for the February 1993 issue of Naval Institute Proceedings. It also appeared in the June 1993 issue of TIGHAR Tracks, Volume 9 #2.
A Letter to Gallagher This letter to Gerald Gallagher, Officer-In-Charge, Phoenix Islands Settlement Scheme, on Gardner Island, was received several months after his death in September 1941. We found it in his official file in England in November 1998. The letter may provide clues to Gallagher’s personal and family life which may assist us in tracking the recipient of his personal effects. These may include other letters, and an album of photographs. We can’t help but wonder if he took pictures of the bones he discovered in 1940.
9 November 1941
MacPherson’s Report This report was prepared by Dr. Duncan Ewan Campbell MacPherson, Assistant Director of Medical Services, Western Pacific High Commission, to the Secretary of WPHC, Henry Harrison Vaskess, on November 9, 1941. It describes the final and fatal voyage of Gerald B. Gallagher, quite possibly the man who found Amelia Earhart. His story is as tragic as hers.
16 July 1937
Lambrecht’s Report This report was written by Lt. John O. Lambrecht, USN, Senior Aviator aboard the U.S.S. Colorado, concerning the aerial search for Earhart conducted by the Vought O3U3 Corsair aircraft under his command. The three aircraft were catapult launched from the deck of the ship and flew search operations for four days in the Phoenix Islands.
13 July 1937
Friedell’s Report The official report of the Captain of the U.S.S. Colorado is interesting because the logic he uses in deciding where to search for Earhart is identical to TIGHAR’s. It is also interesting to note that his description of what was seen on Gardner Island differs from that of the man who did the searching – see Lambrecht’s Report below.
28 August 1937
The Collopy Letter There are two authoritative contemporaneous documents which describe the events at Lae, New Guinea on the morning of July 2, 1937. One of these is the Chater Report (see below, Document of March 1). The other is a letter from James A. Collopy, District Superintendent for Civil Aviation, Salamaua, Territory of New Guinea.
26 March 1937
The Luke Field Inventory Following the March 20, 1937 accident at Luke Field, Hawaii, which ended Earhart’s first world flight attempt the U.S. Army Air Corps shipped the aircraft back to California for repair. As part of that process, USAAC 1st Lt. D.M. Tites performed an inventory of the aircraft on March 26. This is that inventory. Although it does not tell us what was aboard the aircraft for its final flight, it does tell us what was aboard for the first intended flight to Howland Island.
11 March 1937
The Kelly Johnson Telegrams In the final days of prepaparations for Amelia Earhart’s first world flight attempt, Lockheed engineer Clarence “Kelly” Johnson sent three telegrams in which he discussed the power management procedures which he recommended that Earhart follow to obtain the best efficiency on her flight from Oakland, California to Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii. These are reproduced here in both photographic and transcribed format.
9 October 1937
Eric Bevington’s Journal In October of 1937, as the first step in a colonization plan designed to relieve overpopulation in the Gilbert and Ellice Islands colony, Lands Commissioner Henry E. “Harry” Maude, assisted by Cadet Officer Eric R. Bevington, and accompanied by 19 Gilbertese “delegates” made a visit to the Phoenix Islands. In his book Of Islands and Men Maude says, of Gardner Island (Nikumaroro), that “… the island was thoroughly explored from end to end.” A more accurate account of this first documented visit to the island since the Earhart disappearance in July is provided by a diary kept by Cadet Bevington. We have taken up the tale on October 9, 1937, at the island of Niutao in the Ellice Islands, as the expedition is preparing to sail for the Phoenix Group.
April 1940 – October 1941
The Bones Chronology This is a chronology of known events and correspondence from April 1940 to October 1941 based upon documents of the Western Pacific High Commission (W.P.H.C.), the Gilbert & Ellice Islands Colony (G. & E. I. C.) and Phoenix Islands Settlement Scheme (P.I.S.S.). Included are:
  • all of the correspondence found in KNI 11/I, File 13/9/1 “Discovery of Human Remains on Gardner Island” at the Kiribati National Archives in Tarawa, Republic of Kiribati.
  • all entries from W.P.H.C. File No. M.P. 4439 –1940 “Skeleton Human – finding of on Gardner Island” at the Library and Archives Section of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office at Hanslope Park, England.
  • selected entries from other W.P.H.C. files at Hanslope Park
January 1940
Gallagher’s Ninth Progress Report, October – December 1940 As Officer-in-Charge of the Phoenix Islands Settlement Scheme, Gerald Gallagher filed quarterly progress reports. This report, his ninth, covers the period during which bones of the castaway found in September were being investigated. (See Bones Chronology.) Because the issue of the castaway was “strictly secret” there is no mention of the bones in the Progress Report, but it does provide valuable background and context.
October 1940
Gallagher’s Eighth Progress Report, July – September, 1940. By request, the quarterly progress report Gallagher filed prior to the finding of the bones.
July 1960
The Floyd Kilts Story One of the most amazing pieces of information we have come across in our investigation is this July 1960 article from the San Diego Tribune in which a retired Coast Guardsman relates a story he said that he heard on Gardner Island in 1946. Little regarded and roundly debunked at the time, Kilts’ story has since been shown to be largely true, forty years after he told it. For the documented story of the bones found on Gardner Island, see the Bones Chronology.
3 August 1937
The Brines Letter

A copy of this letter recently came into our possession. At this time its provenance is unknown but it appears to be a piece of correspondence from one journalist (“Russ Brines”) to another (Richard ?). If authentic, it contains the first contemporaneous reference we’ve seen to Noonan being a heavy drinker and also provides some interesting insights into the attitude of at least some members of the press toward Earhart's flight and disappearance.

July 1937
Betty’s Notebook

We have what appears to be a real-time transcription of what were believed at the time to be post-loss radio transmissions from Amelia Earhart. This Document of the Week consists of scans of all of the pertinent pages and some examples of the other pages.

22 July 1937
The Colorado Lookout At the conclusion of U.S.S. Colorado’s participation in the search for Amelia Earhart, a special issue of the ship’s newspaper was published. It provides an interesting look at how the crew of the Colorado experienced the search.
September 1941
Inventory of Gallagher’s Effects When Gerald Gallagher died on Nikumaroro, it fell to his brother officers to inventory and pack his personal belongings for shipment to his heirs. Two inventories exist: one apparently made in his house, the other apparently a packing list of items shipped in boxes to Fiji in readiness for transit to Great Britain. Both are reproduced in this document. They provide valuable insight into the both the real and the supposed needs of a European living on Nikumaroro in those years.
12 September 1929
The Wreck of the Norwich City

The wreck of the Norwich City was thoroughly investigated, and the reports and accounts of the accident are an excellent primary source for understanding Nikumaroro and the plight of any person stranded there. The following documents are reproduced here:

  1. Cover Letter to the Board of Trade, London
  2. Statement of Henry Cleveland Lott, Second Officer, S.S. Norwich City
  3. Statement of John Harry Swindell, Master, S.S. Trongate
  4. Statement of Daniel Hamer, Master, S.S. Norwich City
  5. Statutory Declaration by J. H. Swindell, Master, S.S. Trongate
  6. Position Report describing condition and location of S.S. Norwich City
  7. Report of J. Thomas, First Officer, S.S. Norwich City
  8. Crew List
24 July 1937
A Letter Home From Sid Harvey The first attempt by the U.S. Navy to search for Amelia Earhart was the dispatch of a PBY Catalina flying boat from Pearl Harbor to Howland Island. Weather forced the flight to abort, but a letter written by the commander of that flight has come to light which provides new information about the orders under which the flight was operating.
1930 – 1941
A Gallagher Gallery We are fortunate to have recently been sent via email a collection of photographs of Gerald Gallagher which his family owns. Our thanks to Gerard Gallagher of Ayrshire, Scotland, for permission to publish these pictures on our website.
June 1982
The Hooven Report Frederick J. Hooven designed an advanced radio compass which was installed on Earhart’s aircraft, and subsequently replaced with an older, but lighter, model of less capability. This is the report he wrote, based on Frederick Goerner’s research, presenting his opinion of what went wrong and where the aircraft ended up.
1939 & 1940
An Avalanche of Psychics

In the days following Earhart’s disappearance George Palmer Putnam was deluged by people who believed that they had been in communication with his missing wife. Some claimed that they had received radio messagess from her. Recent research indicates that several of those reported receptions were technically possible and probably true. But less well-known are the many alleged communications with Earhart by paranormal means – dreams, seances, and psychic visions. This two-part magazine article from the December 1939 and January 1940 issues of Popular Aviation provides new perspective on the chaotic post-loss environment and Putnam's response to it.

Our thanks to Ron Reuther for sharing this with us.

28 February 1939
New Zealand Pacific Aviation Survey Expedition: General Report Late in 1938 an expedition was undertaken to evaluate certain British islands in the South Pacific for their suitability for aviation operations, both the construction of airfields and the use of lagoons by flying boats. In charge of the project, known as “The New Zealand Pacific Aviation Survey,” was RNZAF Squadron-Leader E. A. Gibson. This is Gibson’s General Report of those surveys.
28 February 1939
Pacific Aviation Survey Expedition: Gardner Island E.W. Lee was third in command of the Pacific Aviation Survey, and was in charge of the survey at Gardner Island. This is his report, in two forms: the original hand-written form he filled out, and the narrative report.
28 February 1939
Photo Album of the Survey Expedition These are the maps and photographs filed with the reports below.
Late 1938
M. H. Hay’s Journal During the Niku IIII expedition in August 2001, Stuart Hay, the son of New Zealand Pacific Aviation Survey Expedition participant Royal New Zealand Navy Acting Petty Officer M.H. Hay, faxed TIGHAR copies of what he described as excerpts from his father’s journal describing his experiences on Gardner Island. This document includes a transcript of those excerpts and images of the pages.
September 1951
“Nikumaroro” by P. B. Laxton “Nikumaroro” appears in the June/September 1951 issue of The Journal of the Polynesian Society. Paul Laxton was the Assistant Lands Commissioner for the Gilbert & Ellice Islands Colony in the years following World War II. This is his account of his visit to Nikumaroro to re-energize the settlement.
“The Colonization of the Phoenix Islands” by H. E. Maude “The Colonization of the Phoenix Islands” appears as a chapter in H. E. Maude’s fine book, Of Islands and Men, published by the Oxford University Press in 1968. As it is no longer readily available in print, we are excerpting this section here, with all due apologies to Professor Maude.
June 1937

The Helen Day Collection:


Fred Noonan wrote many letters back to the States during the World Flight. Some were written to his wife, Mary Bea. Others went to friends scattered about the country, including Helen Day, of Coconut Grove, Florida. She kept the letters her whole life. Helen Day’s son, Jim Bible, has been gracious enough to scan the original letters and send the scans to us for use by researchers. To aid in comprehension we are including a transcription with each image.
The NTSB Report on 2-2-V-1 In 1992 TIGHAR submitted a number of artifacts recovered from Nikumaroro to the Materials Laboratory of the National Transportation Safety Board for analysis and comment. This the report they produced.
17 April 1937
The Luke Field Crash Report On March 20, 1937, Amelia Earhart attempted a take-off from Luke Field, Hawaii, on the second leg of her first try at flying around the world. The aircraft groundlooped, with substantial damage. This document is the official crash report of that accident, including witness statements and findings.
10 July 1937
The Pan American Airways Memos Reproduced here are four Pan American Airways internal memoranda describing attempts by the company’s direction finder stations to receive and take bearings on radio signals suspected of being sent from the lost Earhart aircraft. The first report is from R.M. Hansen, Operator in Charge, Wake Island. The second report is from G.H. Miller, Operator in Charge, Midway Island. The third report is a summary by G.W. Angus, the Division Communications Superintendent, Pacific Division (Alameda, CA) to Pan Am’s Chief Communication Engineer in New York. The fourth report is from K.C. Ambler, Section Supervisor, Communications, Honolulu. The originals are difficult to read even after restoration so transcripts of each report are provided.
June – July 1937
The Carey Diary

One of the men aboard the USCGC Itasca was James Carey, a college student who had taken a job with the Associated Press to earn money for tuition. He was there to cover Earhart’s arrival at Howland Island, and her subsequent take-off for Hawaii.

While aboard he kept a hand written journal, with both notes for his articles and more general impressions and observations. He used the notes to write the pieces he submitted, and – a meticulous archivist – he kept the journals, notebooks, and photographs from the voyage for the rest of his life.

In 1987, Jim Carey was trying to get the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and other newspapers to use his materials to do pieces about Earhart on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the flight. While we don't know for sure, it seems that at about that time he transcribed his notes as part of packets he sent out. One of the copies of the diary turned up on e-Bay in the fall of 2006, and a TIGHAR researcher purchased it. Until then, no one knew knew that Carey had kept a diary. His notes provide an entirely new and uniquely intimate perspective on Itasca’s role in the Earhart drama.

Jim Carey died in 1988, but his son has been very gracious in granting permission for TIGHAR to scan and reproduce these materials here. This is the biggest single find of Earhart-related archival material we know of. The items linked here are the core of the collection; more will be mounted as time and space allow.

June – July 1937
The Carey Photographs

One of the men aboard the USCGC Itasca was James Carey, a college student who had taken a job with the Associated Press to earn money for tuition. He was there to cover Earhart’s arrival at Howland Island, and her subsequent take-off for Hawaii.

While aboard he kept a hand written journal, with both notes for his articles and more general impressions and observations. He also had a camera and took photographs. While many of the pictures are of poor quality, the ones here (restored, but not altered) do give an excellent impression of the time he spent aboard Itasca.

Juy 1937
The Carey Article

One of the men aboard the USCGC Itasca was James Carey, a college student who had taken a job with the Associated Press to earn money for tuition. He was there to cover Earhart’s arrival at Howland Island, and her subsequent take-off for Hawaii.

One of the pieces he wrote was for the newspaper of the University of Hawaii, the Ka Elele. We reproduce here scans of the original copy; a scan of the article as published; and a transcript of the copy. Also reproduced here are some rough notes for a “flash” – a pre-written announcement of Earhart’s arrival at Howland.

July 1937
The Cooper Report Daniel Cooper, 1st Lt., USAAC, was aboard the Itasca as the Air Corp’s representative during the Earhart flight. This is the report he filed on his return to Luke Field.
The Pearson Paper “Mathematical Contributions to the Theory of Evolution. – V. On the Reconstruction of the Stature of Prehistoric Races.” by Karl Pearson, F.R.S., University College, London. 1898.
This paper and the body of Dr. Pearson’s work were referred to by Dr. Hoodless in his examination of the bones found on Nikumaroro.
Lee & Pearson, Background Materials “Mathematical Contributions to the Theory of Evolution. On the Relative Variation and Correlation in Civilised and Uncivilised Races.” By Miss Alice Lee, Bedford College, and Karl Pearson, M.A., F.R.S., Professor of Mathematics and Mechanics, University College, London. 1897.

19 June 1936

Lockheed Report 487 “Lockheed Report 487: Range Study of Lockheed Electra Bimotor Airplane” by C.L. Johnson, June 19, 1936. [PDF]

Various dates

Letters This is a collection of letters concerning the Earhart World Flight spanning sixty years. The link opens a list with explanations of what each letter contains. All letters are in PDF format.
July 1, 1937 & ff.
Logs Deck and radio logs pertinent to the flight and the search. PDFs.
April 1935 & ff.
Reports Various reports from ships participating in the search and other sources.
1939 & ff.
The Tarawa Archives A research trip to Tarawa, the capitol of the Republic of Kiribati, resulted in thousands of images taken of documents pertaining to the history of Gardner/Nikumaroro. These images are being processed as time allows and published here. Check back frequently.
May 16, 1938
Memorandum from Adm. Waesche to Ass't Sec. Gibbons This memo reiterates the conclusions drawn by the Navy and Coast Guard concerning the last hours of Earhart’s flight, the search, and the opinions of the people involved as to Earhart’s state of mind.
January 7, 2018
Sir Harry Luke: Notes from the PRO In 2001 and 2002, TIGHAR Researcher Kristin Tague did a survey of correspondence and other papers to, from, and concerning Sir Harry Luke at the Public Records Office in Hanslope Park, England. She took copious notes and submitted an interim report. She was unable to finish her work due to illness. This is her report.
January 8, 2018
D.C.M. Macpherson Service Record Thirty-nine year-old Dr. D.C.M. Macpherson was the premiere medical professional in the WPHC. His service record, from arrival until his death, includes details of his leaves for additional training.
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