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Willie L. (Bill) Dobbs Eastern Air Lines photograph collection

Identifier: L2023-10

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Willie L. (Bill) Dobbs Eastern Air Lines Photograph Collection, 1968, 2016, undated, consists of 6 photographs of an Eastern plane crash and newspaper clippings covering high points in Dobbs's Eastern career, including his successful effort to foil an attempted hijacking in 1968.


  • Creation: 1968, 2016, undated


Restrictions on Access

Collection is open for research use.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Georgia State University is the owner of the physical collection and makes reproductions available for research, subject to the copyright law of the United States and item condition. Georgia State University may or may not own the rights to materials in the collection. It is the researcher's responsibility to verify copyright ownership and obtain permission from the copyright holder before publication, reproduction, or display of the materials beyond what is reasonable under copyright law. Researchers may quote selections from the collection under the fair use provision of copyright law.

History of Eastern Airlines

The earliest incarnation of Eastern Airlines was Pitcairn Aviation, founded in 1927, which was the U.S. Postal Service contractor flying from New York to Atlanta. In 1930, the carrier was sold to North American Aviation owner Clement Keys and was renamed Eastern Air Transport. It soon added passenger routes and adopted the name Eastern Air Lines. Throughout the pre-World War II era, Eastern dominated passenger travel and air transport along the Atlantic coast, including the introduction of one-day service from New York to Miami in 1932. Famed pilot Eddie Rickenbacker bought the company in 1938 and was closely identified with it until his 1963 retirement.

During the air travel boom of the 1950s and 1960s, Eastern Airlines grew into one of the "Big Four" United States carriers, enhancing its status as the lead air travel carrier on domestic east coast flights with the introduction of air shuttle service in 1961. Shuttle service was created as an alternative to bus routes and included hourly flights from Atlanta to Washington D.C., New York, and Boston. During this time, Eastern Airlines also expanded international service to Mexico, Bermuda, Puerto Rico, and Canada. Under the leadership of former astronaut Frank Borman (hired as an advisor in 1969, he became Chief Executive Officer in 1975), Eastern Airlines enjoyed continued successes in the industry until the enactment of the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978.

Beginning with Eastern's early U.S. Postal Service government contract, the company had relied upon the regulated and protective policies governing the airline industry. Without government protection, Eastern's profits began to make a downward turn that eventually culminated in the selling of the company to Texas Air International, headed by Frank Lorenzo. Following deregulation, Lorenzo was able to purchase multiple airlines including Continental, Frontier, New York Air, and Eastern.

To cut costs in the midst of declining profits, Lorenzo asked Eastern's union employees to take massive pay cuts in wages and benefits. Union workers refused to accept Lorenzo's demands and opted to go on strike. By claiming bankruptcy in 1989, Lorenzo was able to hire non-union workers to fill the jobs of striking employees. Lorenzo took his demands a step further when he asked the machinists' union to take a pay cut, which resulted in another strike that dealt the final blow to any hope that Eastern Airlines would recover lost profits. In 1991, Eastern Airlines was permanently grounded. Eastern's main hubs in Atlanta and Miami were taken over by various competitors and its concourses in New York and Newark were demolished.


1 folder(s) (6 photographs and some newspaper clippings (photocopies))

Language of Materials



The Willie L. (Bill) Dobbs Eastern Air Lines Photograph Collection, 1968, 2016, undated, consists of 6 photographs of an Eastern plane crash and newspaper clippings covering high points in Dobbs's Eastern career.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Dianne Dempsey, August 2023.

Processing Information

Processed at the file level by Hal Hansen, August 2023.


Willie L. (Bill) Dobbs Eastern Air Lines Photographs
A Guide to the Collection at Georgia State University Library
Hal Hansen
August 2023
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

100 Decatur St., S.E.
Atlanta, Georgia 30303
404-413-2881 (Fax)