Guide to the Colonel Bert M. Atkinson Papers, RG 686

Listed by:  Anthony Donaldson
Date:  September 2001

Date Span:  1838-1945 (Bulk 1911-1945)

Size of Collection: 1.0 cubic foot

Biographical Sketch:  Bert Milton Atkinson (b. March 20, 1889- d. April 27, 1937) was the son of Georgia governor W. Y. Atkinson. A native of Newnan, Georgia, he attended the Georgia Military College and graduated from the University of Georgia in 1909. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army in 1911. In 1914 he transferred to the Aviation Corps and served as a pilot in the First Aero Squadron during the “Punitive Expedition” to Mexico in 1916. During World War I Atkinson served as the Wing Commander of the First Pursuit Group, the first American Air Service combat unit to serve in the war. In 1918 he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and received numerous decorations including the Purple Heart, the French Legion of Honor and Croix De Guerre with Palm and the Belgium Order of Leopold. He was forced to retire from the military in 1922 due to poor health and died in 1937.

Scope / Content:  The collection contains military orders, reports, and correspondence covering the years 1911-1918 and a 1913 map of Verdun, France, as well as material on the United States’ “Punitive Expedition” to Mexico in 1916 as well as Col. Atkinson’s service in World War I in France (Wing Commander, United States Army Aviation Corps, First Pursuit Group.) There are several military photographs of soldiers and airplanes taken at the North Island Aviation School in San Diego, Ca. in 1915; Columbus, N. M., and Dublou, Mexico in 1916; San Antonio, TX. in 1917 and Verdun, France in 1918. The collection also contains family photographs, newspaper clippings, and Atkinson’s personal papers that document his participation in the Early Birds Pilots’ Club, Aero Club of America and his involvement in the Eddie Rickenbacker Automobile Company. Lastly, there are documents and photographs regarding the Col. Bert M. Atkinson Air Field, a United States military base in Guiana from 1941-1949.


Box 1

1.      Military and Family Photographs

2.      Family Photographs

3.      Military Photographs

4.      Military Photographs

5.      Military Photographs

6.      Newspaper Clippings

7.      Biographical Information- Bert Atkinson

8.      Early Birds Pilots’ Club

9.      Appointment Book: 1896, 1912-1915

10.  Aero Club of America Certificate, 1916

11.  Military Orders, Procedures, Personal Reports, Correspondence- 1918

12.  History of First Pursuit Group

13.  First Pursuit Wing Operations Reports- 1918

14.  Military Orders, 1911-1924

15.  Atkinson Air Field- Correspondence and Photographs

16.  Miscellaneous

17.  Correspondence, 1913-1943

18.  Rickenbacker Automobile Company- Correspondence and Financial Documents

19.  Obituaries- Bert Atkinson

Oversize Folder- 1913 Map of Verdun, France


Go to the AU Special Collections & Archives Homepage