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Carolyn Lee Wills collection of Eastern Airlines' Southern Region Public Relations Office records

 Collection
Identifier: L1986-27

Scope and Content of the Collection

The Eastern Airlines Collection, 1927-2008 (bulk 1965-2008), consists of news clippings, press releases, newsletters, annual reports, monthly reports, correspondence, memoranda, photographs, slides, an early scrapbook (or day book), artifacts (promotional items) and audiovisual materials. This collection mainly provides insight into publicity and outreach efforts at Eastern Airlines, but also its history, charitable work, and day-to-day operations. The materials were accumulated by Carolyn Lee Wills, who worked in the Public Relations Department of Eastern's Southern Regional Office from 1965 until 1987.

Dates

  • 1927-2008
  • Majority of material found within 1965 - 2008

Creator

Restrictions on Access

Unrestricted access. All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

To quote in print, or otherwise reproduce in whole or in part in any publication, including on the Worldwide Web, any material from this collection, the researcher must obtain permission from (1) the owner of the physical property and (2) the holder of the copyright. Persons wishing to quote from this collection should consult the reference archivist to determine copyright holders for information in this collection. Reproduction of any item must contain the complete citation to the original.

Biography of Carolyn Wills

Carolyn Lee Wills graduated from Georgia State University, where she studied journalism, history and speech. She also participated in many extra-curricular activities including Panhellenic Council, Delta Zeta Sorority, and yearbook. Before she began her work at Eastern Airlines, she travelled extensively throughout Europe, Asia, North and South America, Jamaica, the Bahamas, and Bermuda.

In 1965, Wills joined Eastern Airlines as a Representative of Women's Activities. In this role, she interpreted the company's progam to women by working in the fields of fashion, radio, television, public relations, and promotions. In 1971, Wills became made Regional Manager of Public Relations.

Eastern Airlines closed its Atlanta offices in November 1973, but found it difficult to cover their public relations needs in Atlanta from their headquarters in Miami. Four months after closing, Wills was re-hired by Eastern to manage the Southern Division covering Atlanta to Tokyo.

While employed by Eastern Airlines, Wills served on many boards including American Women in Radio and Television, Georgia State University Alumni Association, and was a national representative of Delta Zeta Sorority. In 1966, she married attorney Charles H. Wills.

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.

Extent

25.25 Linear Feet (in 69 boxes)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract:

The Carolyn Lee Wills' collection on Eastern Airlines, Southern Region Public Relations Office, 1927-2008 (bulk 1965-2008), consists of news clippings, press releases, newsletters, annual reports, monthly reports, correspondence, memoranda, photographs, slides, an early scrapbook (or day book), artifacts (promotional items) and audiovisual materials. This collection mainly provides insight into publicity and outreach efforts at Eastern Airlines, but also its history, charitable work, and day-to-day operations.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Carolyn Lee Wills in 1986 (L1986-27), 1998 (L1998-03), and 2008 (L2008-13).

Related Archival Materials

Related Materials in This Repository

  1. W. J. Usery, Jr. papers, 1940; 1952-2004 (L1985-12)
  2. John Chaknis Eastern Airlines strike collection, 1986-1990 (L2000-09)
  3. Francis Q. Vogtner Eastern Airlines collection, 1964-1989 (L2012-26)
  4. John Sugg collection, 1985-1991 (L2005-14)
  5. Frank Borman papers, 1961-1989 (L2005-16)
  6. James R. Ashlock collection, 1938-1991 (L2009-10)
  7. Martha Hamilton collection, 1988-1991 (L2013-01)
  8. International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers records, 1891-2002 (L1992-14)

Separated Materials

Videotapes, photographs, slides, artifacts, oversized materials, and textiles have been separated for preservation purposes to boxes 47-69. These boxes are described in their own series.

Processing Information

Processed by John M. Duncan and Sydney Lanier utilizing minimum standards processing techniques, April 2008. EAD finding aid created by Traci JoLeigh Drummond, June 2008. Collection and finding aid updated by Scott Adams February 2009. L2009-18 accession added by Hal Hansen, November 5, 2018.
Title
Eastern Airlines' Southern Region Public Relations Office:
Subtitle
A Guide to Carolyn Lee Wills' Collection of Its Records at Georgia State University Library
Status
Completed
Author
Georgia State University Library
Date
June 2008
Language of description
Undetermined
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

Contact:
100 Decatur St., S.E.
Atlanta, Georgia 30303
404-413-2880
404-413-2881 (Fax)