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Katherine Stinson Pictorial Collection

Identifier: PICT-000-506

Scope and Content

Photograph collection consists of pictures of the Stinson and Otero families and pictures related to aviation and to World Wars I and II. Of special interest are fair performances by Katherine Stinson-Otero and other pilots (stunt flying, skywriting, night flights) and by automobile race drivers; early scenes of cadets, officers, and buildings at New Mexico Military Institute, photos of Katherine Stinson-Otero's trip to the Orient, Katherine Stinson-Otero and Miguel Otero, Jr. in Europe during wartime, patients and buildings of the New Mexico sanatorium where Katherine Stinson-Otero was treated, and photographs of President Taft signing legislation granting statehood to New Mexico and Arizona in 1912. An unidentified daguerreotype portrait of a woman and child (possibly members of the Otero family) is located in folder 58. Oversize graphic materials include: posters of flying exhibitions in which Katherine Stinson-Otero was a participant, drawings by and of Katherine Stinson-Otero (self-portraits and portraits of her mother), and a portrait on silk of a youthful Katherine Stinson-Otero. There is also a published set of prints entitled "The Early Birds," by Charles H. Hubell of pilots (including Katherine Stinson-Otero) flying solo flights prior to 1916.

Also included is the Jack Specht photograph album, a later accession. It contains about forty images related to Katherine and Marjorie, their family, and aviation. The remaining photographs record images from around the San Antonio area including one of a race car accident, an image of a vehicle driving through the Guadeloupe River, Mission San Jose, and a few aerial cityscapes of San Antonio. There is also a copy of the Wichita Falls Times published in Witchita Falls, Texas on June 9, 1963 containing a cover feature story on Jack Specht entitled “Wichitan Was Pioneer Aerial Photographer.” This story documents the relationship Specht had with the Stinson sisters.

There are also Japanese postcards (most of which have been translated) detailing Katherine's visit to Japan.

Other items of interest include work by Laura Gilpin, images of Elfego Baca, Bronson Cutting, and Mary E. Dissette.


  • 1850-1969


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Copy Restrictions

Duplication of print and photographic material is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for copyright compliance. For more information see the Photographs and Images Research Guide and contact the Pictorial Archivist.


Katherine Stinson was born 1891 in Fort Payne, Alabama [corrected date and place]. She was introduced to aviation in 1911, when she participated in a balloon ascension. This started her life-long interest in aviation and made Katherine Stinson one of the first female pilots in the United States and the world. She attended the Lillie Aviation Company in Chicago where she was taught flying by a reluctant Max Lillie. In the same year she received FAI certification #148. Her carrier covered many "firsts" (in aviation per se as well as for women) such as first night flights, long-distance records, air-mail services, and skywriting. In 1915 the Stinson family opened a flight school and Katherine attended aviation exhibition shows, in which she reportedly got paid up to $2000 per flight. A major event in Kathrine Stinson's aviation career was an exhibition tour to the Orient. In 1917, tens of thousands of spectators in Japan and China admired her and fellow aviators' skills with the airplanes.

After the war broke out in Europe, Katherine Stinson tried to sign up for combat missions on the continent but was denied. She had to settle for ambulance services. Her health deteriorated under the strenuous conditions in France and she was hospitalized. She stayed there for over a year, suffering from tuberculosis. She did not recover from the disease, until the New Mexico air in Santa Fe brought back her strength. After that she stayed away from active aviation, but turned her interest to architecture and preservation of the unique Pueblo style of the Southwest.

It was during her time at Sunmount Sanatorium that she met Miguel Otero, also a flyer, and son of former Governor Miguel Otero, Sr. Miguel Otero's career was deeply rooted in New Mexico. Born and raised during the territorial period and growing to maturity during early statehood, Miguel Otero was intimately familiar with New Mexico politics. Close friend of Bronson Cutting, he helped shape New Mexico's politics in the 1920s. His political career stretched from New Mexico treasurer, to attorney general and District Judge for Santa Fe. When World War II broke out, Miguel Otero volunteered and was assigned to the Judge Advocate General Department at Camp Luna, NM and later Matherfield, CA. After the war he returned to Santa Fe and attended to his law practice. Although often asked to run for national office, Otero strongly believed that his place of influence was Santa Fe and New Mexico. Never publicly interested in the governorship, he held close ties with Republican party officials and was often asked for advice.

Kathrine Stinson and Miguel Otero raised four adopted children, Barbara, Jerry, Jackie, and Edward Stinson (Kathrine's brother Jack's children). Kathrine Stinson Otero, who left a definite impact on the history of aviation, died in 1977 in Santa Fe after a long illness. Miguel Otero, descendant of a family deeply rooted in New Mexico, left an equally important lasting impact on New Mexico's political, judicial, and social history.

The Jack Specht photograph album was compiled by Specht, renown cameraman and Hollywood cinematographer, while living in San Antonio, Texas around the age of 18 or 19 years old. The Stinson sisters, Katherine and Marjorie, had moved to San Antonio with their family in 1914. Specht, who worked at Alamo Camera, would spend much of his time off at a nearby airfield taking photographs of aircraft and pilots. It was during this period, Specht befriended the sisters, who gained fame as being two of the earliest women to gain pilot’s licenses in the U.S.


2874 plus items (16 boxes, 1 oversize folder) : 2810 photographic prints, 1 daguerreotype, 6 albums, 5 posters, 11 glass plate negatives, 41 postcards, prints, drawings, newspaper

Language of Materials



Photograph collection consists of pictures of the Stinson and Otero families and pictures related to aviation and to World Wars I and II.

Physical Location

B2. Shelved by Pictorial Number. Oversize box shelved in Big Box location by Pictorial Number. Oversize posters, drawings, and newspaper shelved in oversize drawers by Pictorial Number.

Images available online

Selections of the Katherine Stinson Pictorial Collection are available online via New Mexico Digital Collections.

Related Material

Katherine Stinson Otero Drawings and Plans, Center for Southwest Research, University of New Mexico Libraries. The Japanese postcards were donated by author, Yuriko Matsumura, who included them in her 2013 Japanese language book on Stinson, which is in the CSWR catalog.

Separated Material

Pictorial material separated from the Otero-Stinson Family Papers.

Processing Information

The original accession and the three additions each have unique provenance.
Finding Aid of the Katherine Stinson Pictorial Collection, 1850-1969
Pictorial Collections Staff
© 2007
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.

Repository Details

Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131