9:27 AM, April 8, 2011


AUBURN, Ala. – For more than 30 years, W. David Lewis was a mainstay at Auburn University’s History Department, teaching Technology and Civilization to students and compiling an impressive list of published works on the history of aviation and the impact of technology. Now the research notes that Dr. Lewis used to create such respected works as his acclaimed biography “Eddie Rickenbacker: An American Hero in the Twentieth Century” have come to Auburn University Libraries’ Special Collections and Archives department and will be made available for study by scholars from around the world.

 Many of the notes are expected to go well beyond what Lewis committed to the published page.

 “As I recall, Dr. Lewis told me that the first draft of his Rickenbacker biography was much longer than what eventually came out in print,” said Dwayne Cox, head of Auburn University Libraries’ Special Collections and Archives department. “I imagine we’ll find a considerable amount of previously unpublished material among his notes and early chapter drafts on Rickenbacker.”

Lewis was instrumental in bringing many aviation-related collections to Auburn’s Special Collections and Archives, most recently the Rickenbacker papers, which included rare photographs from the aviation pioneer’s life that spanned from his early years as a race car driver and fighter ace in World War I, to his years at the helm of Eastern Air Lines. These photos are available on the Auburn University Libraries Digital Collection site at http://diglib.auburn.edu/collections/rickenbacker/.  The Association of Research Libraries featured Auburn University's aviation collection, including the Rickenbacker papers, in the volume that commemorated the ARL's 75th anniversary.

Dr. W. David Lewis joined Auburn University in 1971 as the Hudson Professor of History and Engineering, and was a leader in the field of studying technology and its impact on civilization. He taught at Auburn until the time of his death in 2007, ending his career at Auburn with the title of Distinguished University Professor.

(Contributed by W. Jayson Hill)

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