HISTORY
Amelia Earhart: More Than an Aviator May 17, 2018 | Liberty Corner, N.J. By Kylie Garabed, USGA

The Amelia Earhart temporary exhibit inside the USGA Golf Museum feature several artifacts from the illustrious aviator. (USGA Museum)

Female pilot Amelia Earhart, most well-known for her mysterious disappearance during a solo flight across the Pacific Ocean in the summer of 1937, led a full and multifaceted life that included breaking barriers for women, setting records in aviation and playing golf.

Earhart’s career took off when she began flying with female instructor Neta Snook in January 1921. She soon purchased her own plane, and by October 1922 broke her first of many records, setting the women’s altitude record at 14,000 feet. In 1928, Earhart became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean when she maintained the flight log as a passenger with pilots Bill Stultz and Louis Gordon. The flight catapulted her to fame, but she soon eclipsed the feat when, in 1932, Earhart became the second person, and the first woman, to fly alone across the Atlantic, cementing her place as one of the world’s best early aviators.

Earhart’s accomplishments opened doors for future female pilots, but her ventures outside of the aviation industry bettered the lives of women and reveal her passion for service. Before she began flying lessons, Earhart worked as a nurse’s aide at a military hospital in Canada during World War I. In 1926, she was hired as a social worker at Boston’s women-run Denison House. There, she taught classes to the city’s urban poor and organized programs for immigrant women and children. In the mid-1920s, the Equal Rights Amendment, a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution which would prevent civil rights from being denied based on gender, began to gain traction and Earhart was quick to voice her support. In 1932 she even met with President Herbert Hoover to discuss the issue. In 1935, Earhart accepted a consulting position at Purdue University in the Department for the Study of Careers for Women, encouraging women to participate in traditionally male careers. She also promoted practical fashion for active living, designing a line of functional and comfortable separates for women.

On display are Earhart’s golf bag, monogrammed headcovers and club, acquired in 2011 from the Babe Didrikson Zaharias Foundation. Earhart enjoyed playing golf, and counted Babe Didrikson Zaharias, Olympic medalist and three-time U.S. Women’s Open champion, as one of her many friends. Golf became an even more important part of Earhart’s life in 1934 when she and her husband, George Palmer Putnam, moved from Rye, N.Y. to Burbank, Calif. They purchased a home bordering Lakeside Golf Course, a club frequented by Hollywood celebrities.

Amelia Earhart’s 5-Iron, ca. 1930
Made by Wilson Sporting Goods, Chicago Ill.

Amelia Earhart’s Headcover, ca. 1930
Made by Wilson Sporting Goods, Chicago Ill.

Amelia Earhart’s Headcover, ca. 1930
Made by Wilson Sporting Goods, Chicago Ill.

Photo of Amelia Earhart and Babe Didrikson Zaharias in Rye, NY, ca. 1930

Courtesy of Purdue University Libraries, Karnes Archives & Special Collections

Photo of Amelia Earhart in flight suit standing next to autogiro, 1931

Courtesy of Purdue University Libraries, Karnes Archives & Special Collections

Amelia Earhart’s Golf Bag, ca. 1930
Made by Wilson Sporting Goods, Chicago Ill.