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Hugh L. Dryden papers

Identifier: MS-0147

  • Staff Only
  • No requestable containers

Scope and Contents

These papers consist of writings, diaries, printed material, photographs, and correspondence relating to Dryden's personal and professional life. Because Dryden spent his entire career working for federal agencies, the bulk of his professional papers were the property of the National Bureau of Standards, NACA, and NASA. Photocopies and microfilm of some of these records are in the collection. His papers include drafts and finished copies of his publications and speeches (Series 1); files on his professional activities outside his work (Series 2); and Dryden's personal files he kept while at NACA and NASA (Series 3). Represented are his work with Theodore von Karman and the Army Air Force Scientific Advisory Group studying German wartime scientific efforts, and Dryden's files as a member of NACA (1921-1958), Naval Research Advisory Committee (1946-1951), Institute of Aeronautical Sciences (1932-1957), American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (1958-1965), International Union for Theoretical and Applied Mechanics (1947-1965), National Academy of Sciences (1945-1965), and the National Geographic Society (1950-1965). Also included are his student work, diaries, sermons, awards and honorary degrees. The overall collection spans from 1908 to 1966.


  • Creation: 1908-1966


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is housed off-site and requires 48-hours' notice for retrieval. Please contact Special Collections for more information.

Collection is open for use, except for the Collection provenance files, Box 4-1 to Box 4-6. These boxes are restricted to researchers. More information can be found in the staff-view of this guide.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. Researchers are responsible for determining any copyright questions. It is not necessary to seek our permission as the owner of the physical work to publish or otherwise use public domain materials that we have made available for use, unless Johns Hopkins University holds the copyright.

Biographical / Historical

A pioneer in aerodynamics and space program administrator, Dryden was born in Pocomoke City, Maryland in 1898 and raised in Baltimore. He received his B.A. (1916), M.A. (1918), and Ph.D. (1920) in physics and mathematics from the Johns Hopkins University. His professional career was spent in government agencies: the National Bureau of Standards Division of Mechanics and Sound (1918-1947), the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) committee member (1921-1946) and Director (1947-1958), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Deputy Administrator (1958-1965). He served on a variety of other committees and commissions dealing with civilian and military aeronautical research. His fields of research included air turbulence, the boundary layer and the development of wind tunnel research. He was one of the founders of the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences (later part of AIAS), active in the International Union of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics (IUTAM), and editor of Applied Mechanics Review and the Journal of the Aeronautical Sciences. He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences (Home Secretary 1955-1965) and active in forming the National Academy of Engineering. He was president of the Cosmos Club and trustee of the National Geographic Society. Dryden was also a licensed preacher in the Methodist Church. In 1920 he married Mary Libbie Travers, and they had three children Hugh, Jr., Mary Ruth and Nancy Travers. Dryden died December, 1965.


61.15 Cubic Feet (137 containers total: 4 letter size document boxes, 120 legal size document boxes, 4 legal half-size document boxes, 1 flat box (25 x 21 x 3 inches), 8 pamphlet boxes (7.25 x 4 x 10 inches))

Language of Materials



These papers consist of writings, diaries, printed material, photographs, and correspondence relating to NASA administrator and Johns Hopkins University alumnus Hugh L. Dryden's personal and professional life. Also included are his student work, diaries, sermons, awards, and honorary degrees. The overall collection spans from 1908 to 1966.


The collections is divided into three series: Publications, speeches, notes, and essays; subject files; correspondence; and the restricted provenance files.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The personal papers were donated by Mary Libbie Travers, Hugh Dryden's wife, in 1972. Copies of government documents in these papers were collected from 1971 to 1974.

Processing Information

Major reprocessing performed by by Bex Dansereau and Annie Tang in April 2018. This finding aid previously existed only in paper form and as a scanned PDF. Extensive migration and clean-up of descriptions from the legacy finding aid to this version occurred. In the late 1980s the collection was reorganized and box numbers changed. The legacy collection guide was cataloged by Richard K. Smith in 1974.

Guide to the Hugh L. Dryden papers
Bex Dansereau, Annie Tang
April 2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

The Sheridan Libraries
Special Collections
3400 N Charles St
Baltimore MD 21218 USA