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Hallet E. Cole collection on Zeppelins and lighter-than-air craft

Identifier: Coll 339


Hallett Everett Cole (1900-1974) spent much of his life assembling a collection of writings, ephemera, and artifacts related to lighter-than-air craft, with an emphasis on Zeppelins. The collection includes newsclippings, ephemera, artifacts, memorabilia, and published writings about Zeppelins and lighter-than-air craft.


  • Creation: 1905-1971


Conditions Governing Access note

Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time. Collection includes sound recordings, moving images, and digital files to which access is restricted. Access to these materials is governed by repository policy and may require the production of listening or viewing copies. Researchers requiring access must notify Special Collections and University Archives in advance and pay fees for reproduction services as necessary.

Conditions Governing Use note

Property rights reside with Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections and University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.

Biographical/Historical note

Hallett Everett Cole, born in 1900 in Chicago, lived through the giant airships' period of glory. Cole was a Red Cross volunteer in Europe during both World Wars. After a career in advertising, he retired to Hawaii in about 1950.

He began collecting pictures, relics and memorabilia of lighter-than-air craft, with an emphasis on Zeppelins. At first a hobby, his collection and library became increasingly directed to the goal of generating public interest in airships.

In 1969, Cole donated his collection to the University of Oregon Library. Later he moved to Eugene and devoted the last two years of his life to maintaining his collection, assisting scholars doing research in this area and answering questions from the general public.

Cole was of the opinion that, given modern materials and technology, giant airships could be built that would be economical, convenient and non-polluting transportation for heavy freight and passengers.

Cole died in Coos Bay, Oregon on May 21, 1974.


77 linear feet (41 containers, 198 volumes)

Language of Materials


Arrangement note

Collection is organized into the following series: Series I: Articles and Other Publications About Lighter-Than-Air Craft Subseries A: Articles Subseries B: Publications Subseries C: Comics

Series II: Clippings and Ephemera Subseries A: Airships Subseries B: Goodyear Subseries C: Miscellaneous Clippings Subseries D: Miscellaneous Ephemera

Series III: Free-standing volumes

Series IV: Airship Artifacts and Ephemera

Series V: Film and Audio

Series VI: Photographs Subseries A: Photographs of Artifacts in the Cole Collection Subseries B: Stereographs of Lighter-Than-Air Ships Subseries C: Photographs of Lighter-Than-Air Ships Subseries D: Oversized Photographs

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Gift of Hallet E. Cole in 1969.

General Physical Description note

41 containers, 198 volumes

A Short History of Rigid Airships

The focus of Cole's collecting efforts was the rigid airship--the largest aircraft that ever flew. They were vast in size, ranging from 400 to 8OO feet long. Developed in 1897, their period of greatness and popularity was 1910-1940. Rigid airships have an internal skeleton, usually constructed of a metal and wire network. Non-rigid airships, or blimps, are gas-bags with a cabin and engines attached.

The first practical rigid airship was flown by Graf Ferdinand von Zeppelin, an elderly German general, in 1900. Germany was the leader in rigid airship construction; by 1910 a German Zeppelin airline (DELAG) was carrying passengers and mail between German cities. Thousands of passengers and tons of mail were safely carried prior to WWI. Then the DELAG ships and crews were drafted, and speedy, high-altitude airships were developed for military service. Though at first effective bombers against England, the raiders, lifted by great volumes of flammable hydrogen gas, soon fell prey to improved British aircraft and ammunition.

After the war, the surviving Zeppelins were confiscated by the Allies. Britain built a number of rigids and three were built in the United States—the Shenandoah, Akron and Macon. These airships were lifted by non-flammable helium. Though none of these burned, all three were eventually lost in violent weather.

It remained for the experienced Germans to bring the rigid airship to its highest state. The Los Angeles, built in Germany for the U.S. Navy, flew from Germany to America in 1925. It remained in service until 1939, when it was dismantled.

The Graf Zeppelin, the most famous airship of all time, was launched in 1928. It flew around the world in 1929, carrying passengers and mail, and then maintained a regular transatlantic schedule between Europe, South America and the United States. Considered "undersized" at 775 feet long and 100 feet in diameter, the Graf was joined by a larger Zeppelin for the tourist season of 1936. This was the Hindenburg, 803 feet long and 135 feet in diameter, capable of carrying over 200 tons at speeds of over 80 m.p.h. The mysterious destruction of this ship at Lakehurst, New Jersey in 1937 brought an end to the passenger airships. the Graf Zeppelin and the sister-ship of the Hindenburg, Graf Zeppelin II, remained in existence, but were dismantled by the Nazis in 1940.

It was the hope of Hallett Cole that this collection would help maintain public interest in rigid airships until the time when the airship, reborn of modern technology, could begin reducing pollution and conserving the dwindling energy resources of our transportation systems.

Processing Information note

Collection processed by Timothy D. Pyatt. Updated by Joseph Sanchez, Thomas Beech, and Stephanie Kays.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Guide to the Hallet E. Cole Collection on Zeppelins and Lighter-Than-Air Craft
Revise Description
Finding aid prepared by Timothy D. Pyatt; updated by Joseph Sanchez, Thomas Beech, and Stephanie Kays.
©2007; 2013; 2014
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.
Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives Repository

1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1299 USA