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Frank Borman papers

Identifier: L2005-16

Scope and Content of the Papers

The Frank Borman papers, 1961-1989, contain material that Borman accumulated while serving as an executive of Eastern Airlines. Materials include office files, correspondence, company reports, clippings, speech transcripts, audio recordings and a few artifacts. Correspondence addressing Eastern's financial crisis, labor relations, and support for Borman constitutes the bulk of the collection. Transcripts of speeches Borman delivered as a Special Representative for President Nixon, as an US astronaut for NASA, and as CEO of Eastern Airlines are also included in the collection.


  • 1961-1989
  • Majority of material found within 1980 - 1986


Restrictions on Access

Access to artifacts is restricted.

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.

Historical Background

Frank Borman, U.S. Astronaut who led the Apollo 8 lunar orbit mission and Chief Executive Officer of Eastern Airlines from 1975-1986, was born in Gary, Indiana, March 14, 1928. Raised in Tucson, Arizona, where he learned to fly at age 15, Borman attended U.S. Military Academy, West Point and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in 1950, thus beginning a 20-year career in the U.S. Air Force. He received a Masters of Science in Aeronautical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology in 1957. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) recruited Borman into its astronaut program, for which Borman led the Gemini 7 (1965) and the Apollo 8 (1968) missions. In 1970, Borman retired from NASA with over 6,000 hours of in-space flight time, and the US Air Force at the rank of Colonel. As the Special Representative of President Richard Nixon, Borman visited twelve countries in Europe and the Far East in 1970 to search out information concerning missing American prisoners of war in Vietnam.

Borman began serving as a special advisor to Eastern Airlines in 1969. In 1970, he was named Senior Vice President of Operational Affairs, eventually earning the title of Chief Executive Officer in 1975 and Chairman of the Board by 1976. Borman used Eastern's assets to invest heavily in modern jetliners. Increased debt, and the Deregulation Act of 1978, which opened the Airline Industry to pure competition, brought many challenges to the development and financial stability of Eastern Airlines. Borman instituted innovative and risky financial tactics to ease the effects of the deregulation policies, including profit-sharing and labor wages that were dependent upon the company's success. Borman's tactics produced the company’s four most profitable years, but they also resulted in dissent among Eastern's labor unions. By 1983, as a proposed solution to Eastern's debt burden, Borman asked employees to accept pay cuts in order to keep the company running. Eastern’s mechanics, represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW), threatened to strike if Eastern's management followed through with this planned pay cut. Borman failed to reach an agreement with the labor unions and retired from Eastern Airlines in 1986, selling the company, 3.5 billion dollars in debt, to Texas Air executive and "corporate raider" Frank Lorenzo. Lorenzo's confrontational and controversial tactics eventually pushed Eastern into bankruptcy, following a 1989 strike by the Machinists, pilots, and flight attendants. Lorenzo was ultimately declared "unfit to rule" in the bankruptcy case overseen by Judge Burton Lifland, and after he sold off all routes, gates and aircraft, Eastern was liquidated in 1991.


21.6 Linear Feet (in 18 boxes)

Language of Materials



Frank Borman is well known as the commander of the first lunar orbit mission, Apollo 8, and as the Chief Executive Officer of Eastern Airlines from 1975-1986. The Frank Borman Papers, circa 1968-1989, contain office files and correspondence once held in the Office of the President at Eastern Airline's headquarters in Miami, Florida.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Colonel Frank Borman via W. J. Usery, Jr., September 2005.

Related Archival Materials

Related Materials in This Repository

  1. W. J. Usery, Jr. papers, 1940; 1952-2004 (L1985-12)
  2. Carolyn Lee Wills collection of Eastern Airlines' Southern Region Public Relations Office records, 1927-2008 (L1986-27)
  3. John Chaknis Eastern Airlines strike collection, 1986-1990 (L2000-09)
  4. Francis Q. Vogtner Eastern Airlines collection, 1964-1989 (L2012-26)
  5. John Sugg collection, 1985-1991 (L2005-14)
  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)

Processing Information

Processed by Amanda Brown at the file level, November 2005.
Frank Borman:
A Guide to His Papers at Georgia State University Library
Georgia State University Library
December 5, 2005
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • December 2005: EAD created by Amanda Brown.
  • 2007: EAD revised by William Hardesty.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

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