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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 collection is located at the series level.

*Please see pdf finding aid for a complete listing.


  • 1671 - 2012
  • Majority of material found within 1960 - 2012


Language of Materials

Collection material is primarily in English. Russian is also present.

Access Information

Collection is open for scholarly research. A 48 hours notice and consultation with the Flight Archivist is required to access the collection.  Portions of the collection are restricted per donor restrictions and third party privacy.

Copyright and Use Information

Portions of material in this collection are in the public domain. Other material copyrights held by Purdue University or original creator. Consult with Purdue University Archives and Special Collections prior to reproduction of materials.

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, and 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.


Neil A. Armstrong Papers, 1671 – 2012. The Virginia Kelly Karnes Archives and Special Collections Research Center, Purdue University Libraries, West Lafayette.

Neil Armstrong: Engineer, Pilot, Astronaut, Teacher Commemorative Website. University of Cincinnati. Website. Accessed 18 November 2014.

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 2014.


221.700 Cubic Feet (301 letter-size full-width manuscript boxes, 43 letter-size half-width manuscript boxes, 34 cubic feet boxes, 32 legal-size full-width manuscript boxes, five legal-size half-width manuscript boxes, 31 flat boxes, 27 small archival boxes, four shoe boxes, two large textile boxes, two flat file drawers, eight framed items, a suitcase and a briefcase)


The papers have been arranged into 18 series. Whenever possible, original order of the materials has been retained. Refer to the series, sub-series and sub-group levels for further description.
  1. NASA Career
  2. Family Papers
  3. Education
  4. Military Records
  5. Teaching
  6. Boards, Commissions, and Consulting
  7. Memberships and Advisory Groups
  8. Speeches, Writings, Manuscripts for Review, and Notebooks
  9. Subject Files
  10. Personal Correspondence
  11. Artifacts
  12. Audio Visual
  13. Books and Magazines
  14. News Clippings
  15. Oversized Materials
  16. Photographs
  17. Restricted Materials
  18. Original Subject File Containers

Acquisition Information

The papers were donated by Neil A. Armstrong and Carol Armstrong on September 23, 2008; October 7, 2008; November 11, 2008; December 17, 2008; January 14, 2009; February 18, 2009; September 22, 2012; October 16, 2012; November 2, 2012; April 12, 2013; November 6, 2015; and June 27, 2016.

Processing Information

All materials have been housed in acid-free folders and acid-free boxes. Polyester sleeves were used for photographs or where otherwise warranted for preservation purposes. Coursework has been copied on archival paper and originals retained. Some clippings containing images of people or color graphics, or front pages of newspapers, have been preserved for display purposes, with photocopies made available for research. Oversized [OS] maps, diagrams, certificates, and other printed material; photographs; and artifacts have been separated and grouped into individual series for preservation purposes.
Neil A. Armstrong papers
Under Review
Tracy Grimm, Donovan Irven, Mary A. Sego
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Edition statement
Second edition. Collection description first completed 2014-11-18.

Repository Details

Part of the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections Repository

504 Mitch Daniels Boulevard
West Lafayette Indiana 47907 United States