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Armstrong, Neil, 1930-2012



  • Existence: August 5, 1930 - August 25, 2012

Biographical Information

Neil Alden Armstrong was born near Wapakoneta, Ohio on August 5, 1930 to Viola Louise Engel Armstrong and Stephen Koenig Armstrong. He was an active member of the Boy Scouts of America and earned the rank of Eagle Scout. At the age of 16, in 1946, he earned his student pilot certificate. He graduated from Blume High School in Wapakoneta, Ohio and having been accepted to the Navy’s Naval Aviation College Program, attended college at Purdue University beginning the fall of 1947. His studies in aeronautical engineering were interrupted in the spring of 1949 when he was called to military duty. His active military service spanned 1949 – 1952. He served as a Naval aviator in the Korean War during which he flew 78 combat missions. In 1952 he resumed his studies at Purdue University and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering in 1955. In 1955 he accepted a position as an Aeronautical Test Pilot at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics’ (NACA) Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory in Cleveland, Ohio.  Later in 1955 he would join NACA’s aeronautical research pilots at the High-Speed Flight Station at Edwards Air Force Base, in California. From 1955 until 1962 he flew a number of experimental aircraft including the X-1B, the F-100C, the X-15. He authored and  co-authored a number of research papers during this period and also conducted research as a pilot-engineer on the developing Dyna-Soar project.

In 1962 Armstrong transferred NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston as one of the nine astronaut trainees of the astronaut class of 1962.  Along with astronaut training activities, he was given the responsibilities for operations and training under Alan Shepard, chief of the astronauts. One of his tasks was to calculate how many crews were needed at any one point in time to meet the requirements of the program’s goals. He served in supporting roles for Mercury 9, his first flight crew assignment was as backup commander to Gordon Cooper on Gemini V. Throughout this period his work responsibilities were divided between general training, planning and calculations of the best “trajectories and sequences of events,” and in lab spacecraft systems tests and simulations. (see Hansen, 235) He served in a supporting role for Gemini III, command pilot for Gemini VIII that launched in March 1966. He served as commander of Apollo 11 that launched in July 1969 and became the first human to walk on the moon. Following the Apollo 11 mission, he embarked on the “Giant Step” world tour and later a Bob Hope USO Tour. He received numerous awards, achievement medals, and honors following the Apollo 11 mission.

In 1970 he earned his Master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Southern California. From 1970 -1971 he served as Deputy Associate Administrator for Aerospace in NASA’s Office of Advanced Research and Technology. From 1971 through 1979 he taught and conducted research as Professor of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Cincinnati. Armstrong served on several corporate boards including Cardwell International, Gates Learjet Corporation, Marathon Oil Company, United Airlines, U.S. Steel Corporation, and Space Industries International.  He also consulted on issues of management as well as on aerospace. He served on commissions including the Presidential Advisory Committee for the Peace Corps, the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident, the National Commission on Space, and the NASA Advisory Council. He was also a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the Academy of the Kingdom of Morocco.  He wrote and delivered hundreds of speeches throughout his professional career and into his retirement. He continued to receive fan mail until his death in 2012. He was married to Janet Shearon from 1956-1994, and to Carol Held Knight from 1994 to 2012. Neil Armstrong died on August 25, 2012 following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures.


MSA 5, Neil A. Armstrong Papers, 1671–2012. Purdue University Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries.


Neil Armstrong: Engineer, Pilot, Astronaut, Teacher Commemorative Website.


Hansen, James R. First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005.


Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center Biographical Data Website. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Website. Accessed 18 November 18, 2014.

Found in 24 Collections and/or Records:

Dianna Thompson Collection of Apollo 11 Moon Landing news clippings

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: MSP 201
Scope and Contents The Dianna Thompson Collection of Apollo 11 Moon Landing news clippings documents the Apollo 11 moon landing and events leading up to and shortly afterwards. There are also articles about Janet Shearon Armstrong. Most of the articles are from Kansas City newspapers. Also included are a few editorial cartoons.
Dates: Other: 1969

Neil A. Armstrong Interview by Certified Practicing Accountants of Australia video recording

 Collection — Digital Folder: MSP 322 Neil A. Armstrong Interview by CPA of Australia video recording
Identifier: MSP 322
Scope and Contents This interview was conducted by Alex Malley, CEO of the Certified Practicing Accountants of Australia (CPA Australia) and originally appeared publicly in four parts on CPA Australia's website during the spring 2012. The interview is an edited version of Neil Armstrong's last public interview. CPA Australia removed Alex Malley from the recording and edited in Malley's interview questions as text frames. In this edited version, Armstrong appears with green screen format as background. The...
Dates: 2012

Neil A. Armstrong papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSA 5
Scope and Contents The Neil A. Armstrong papers document the military, aeronautics, astronautics, teaching and corporate business career of Neil A. Armstrong. The papers also feature items from Armstrong's youth and education. The collection includes but is not limited to documents, coursework, working papers, subject files, correspondence, writings, speeches, recordings, photographs and newspaper clippings. The papers are divided into eighteen series, and further information on the scope and content of the...
Dates: 1671 - 2012; Majority of material found within 1960 - 2012

Purdue University Astronauts collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSP 168
Scope and Contents The Purdue University Astronauts collection consists of items relating to Purdue's alumni astronauts that had been collected by various donors before the advent of the Barron Hilton Flight and Space Exploration Archives. Included are newspaper clippings, Purdue University News Service press releases that had been written in regards to Neil A. Armstrong and Apollo 11, and various newspapers with Apollo 11 headlines and related clippings. Also included are Purdue University related publications...
Dates: 1965 - 2003

Carol Armstrong papers

 Unprocessed — Box: 1
Identifier: 2023-100

Eugene A. Cernan papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSA 288
Scope and Contents The Eugene A. Cernan papers document the military, aeronautics, and astronautics career of Eugene A. Cernan, as well as his subsequent professional and public activities. The papers also feature records pertaining to Cernan's youth, family, and education. The collection includes but is not limited to artifacts, audiovisual recordings, awards, books, certificates, coins, correspondence, documents, mission patches, newspaper clippings, photographs, plaques, publications, scrapbooks, speeches,...
Dates: 1934 - 2016; Majority of material found within 1956 - 2012

Collection of Neil Armstrong memorial tributes

 Unprocessed — Box: 01
Identifier: 20130510

Collection of Purdue Astronaut slide rules

 Collection — Box: 8 items
Identifier: MSA 254
Scope and Contents Slide rules of six Purdue alumni astronauts: Neil Armstrong, Roy Bridges, Eugene Cernan, Richard Covey, Guy Gardner, and Jerry Ross.
Dates: Other: undated

William G. Cowdin papers

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: MSA 310
Scope and Contents The William G. Cowdin papers document Cowdin's role as Aerojet program manager for the Dyna-Soar boost rocket engines. This collection includes two 8" x 10" photographs taken during a 1961 Dyna-Soar full scale mockup review, Boeing Co., Seattle, 1961. The photographs include NASA test pilots and Aerojet project team including Neil Armstrong, William Dana, James Woods, Henry Gordon, William Knight, and Aerojet program manager and Purdue graduate William Cowdin. Also included is a biographical...
Dates: 1961 - 2014

Purdue University football program

 Collection — Box: Communal Collections 48, Placement: 07
Identifier: MSP 219
Scope and Contents Purdue University football program (vs. Notre Dame), The Boilermaker, vol. 6, no. 1, September 27, 1969. On the cover: "The greatest touchdown ever. First man on the moon, Neil Armstrong, Purdue '55."
Dates: 1969; Other: Date acquired: 09/12/2009

Purdue Honorary Doctorates records

 Collection — Box: Communal Collections 65, Placement: 12, Folder: 1
Identifier: UA 169
Scope and Contents The records are a compilation of all individuals that received honorary doctorates from Purdue between 1888 and 2013. The list contains the date and discipline the degrees which were awarded. Famous honorary doctorates include Neil Armstrong, Eugene Cernan, Mitch Daniels, A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr., and Darlene Clark Hine.
Dates: 1888 - 2013

School of Hospitality and Tourism Management collection of Purdue photographs and memorabilia

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: UA 82
Scope and Contents The School of Hospitality and Tourism Management collection of Purdue photographs and memorabilia collection (1890-1991; 4.8 cubic feet) documents general Purdue history and various Hospitality and Tourism Department events and activities. Photographs portray various student activities and campus scenes from the decades surrounding the turn of the twentieth century, originally on display in the HTM Café. Photographs also depict culinary events during the 1980s. Types of materials include:...
Dates: 1890 - 1991

James Hansen papers on Neil Armstrong, addition 1

 Unprocessed — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 2023-101

James R. Hansen papers on Neil Armstrong

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSP 183
Scope and Contents The James R. Hansen Papers on Neil Armstrong comprise the materials used to write First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong, the only official biography of Armstrong. A Professor of History at Auburn University, James Hansen was authorized by Armstrong to write the biography in 2002. Between 2002 and 2004, Hansen compiled the materials presented here in preparation for the book's publication. Interviews conducted with Armstrong's primary professional and personal...
Dates: 1955-2011; Other: Majority of material found in 2002-2005; Other: Date acquired: 09/12/2011

Sandor "Alex" Kvassay papers and collection of Aviation Stamps

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSP 144
Scope and Contents The Sandor "Alex" Kvassay papers and collection of Aviation Stamps document the history of aviation and flight through postage stamps, postmarks and envelopes collected from all over the world. The collection spans the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century but includes examples of 19th century balloon airmail. The stamps are housed in 67 albums and total near 68,000 stamps, envelopes, postmarks and postcards. The collection was assembled over a period of 20 years, with...
Dates: 1870 - 2014; Other: Majority of material found within 1920 - 1990

Neil A. Armstrong Gemini 8 and Apollo 11 films

 Unprocessed — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 20150226

Neil A. Armstrong papers, addition 13

 Unprocessed — Box: 1
Identifier: 20181211

Neil A. Armstrong papers, addition 14

 Unprocessed — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 2023-065

Neil A. Armstrong Student Slide Rule

 Unprocessed — Box: 1
Identifier: 2023-066

Neil Armstrong newspaper clippings collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSA 332
Scope and Contents Vertical files containing primarily newspaper clippings relating to Neil Armstrong's career as an astronaut.
Dates: Other: Dummy Date

Purdue University Airport records

 Unprocessed — Box: 01
Identifier: 20171221.1

Space Exploration News collection

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: MSP 128
Scope and Contents The Space Exploration News Collection features front page news stories relating to the Apollo 11 moon landing, John Glenn's history making orbit around the Earth on Friendship 7, the ending of the Space Shuttle Program and other monumental moments in the history of space exploration.

The original periodicals will be retained for historical value and use in displays and exhibits. The collection consists of three newspapers and one magazine.
Dates: 1962 - 2011; Other: Majority of material found within 1962 - 1969