Longer than the Wright brothers’ first flight, wider than a boulevard, and with a tail height as tall as a six-story building, the 747 was a revolution in aviation technology and the passenger experience when it entered service on January 22, 1970. With the first flight from New York to London, Pan Am’s Clipper Young America ushered in the jet age’s second phase: the era of wide body aircraft.
As nations throughout Africa attained their independence in the 1960s and surrounding decades, the establishment of national airlines soon followed. These airlines served important functions in connecting regions underserved by rail and road infrastructure. Equally as important, they served as symbols of national identity, economic expansion, modernity, and technological advancement. This exhibit looks at the history of African airlines through materials from the collections of the Transportation Library and the Herskovits Library of African Studies at Northwestern University.
This exhibit draws from the special and circulating collections at Northwestern University’s Transportation Library to highlight examples of branding and graphic design in the form of passenger ephemera such as menus, timetables, and ticket envelopes, as well as through the library’s extensive collection of annual reports.