The Howard Hughes Professional and Aeronautical Photographs contain black-and-white photographs of businessman and entrepreneur Howard Hughes and his companies from 1916 to 1997. The photographs primarily depict Hughes alongside his aircraft, including the XF-11 prototype reconnaissance plane and the HK-1 Hercules, better known as the "Spruce Goose" or "Flying Boat." The photographs also cover the companies owned by Hughes, including Hughes Tool Company, Hughes Aircraft Company, Hughes Electronics Corporation, and RKO Pictures.
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Scope and Contents Note
The Howard Hughes Professional and Aeronautical Photographs contain photographs of businessman and entrepreneur Howard Hughes and his companies from 1916 to 1997. The photographs primarily depict Hughes alongside his aircraft, including the XF-11 prototype reconnaissance plane and the HK-1 Hercules, better known as the "Spruce Goose" or "Flying Boat." The photographs also include the companies owned by Hughes, including Hughes Tool Company, Hughes Aircraft Company, Hughes Electronics Corporation, and RKO Pictures.
Materials in this collection may be protected by copyrights and other rights. See Reproductions and Use on the UNLV Special Collections website for more information about reproductions and permissions to publish.
Materials are organized into six series:
Series I. Portrait photographs, 1920-1959;
Series II. Aircraft photographs, 1934-1972;
Series III. Hughes Tool Company and Hughes Aircraft Company photographs, 1917-1997;
Series IV. Motion picture production photographs, 1928-1959;
Series V. Las Vegas, Nevada photographs, 1960-1979;
Series VI. Event photographs, 1930-1979.
Biographical / Historical Note
American businessman Howard Hughes was born in 1905 in Houston, Texas. Hughes's business career began when he gained control of Hughes Tool Company in 1924, at the age of 19, after his father's death. In 1932, he formed Hughes Aircraft as a division of Hughes Tool Company. His company won defense contracts during the Second World War to develop high-speed pursuit and reconnaissance aircraft and communication systems.
Perhaps the most famous of these experimental prototypes was the HK-1 Hercules, better known as the "Spruce Goose" or "Flying Boat," a gargantuan wooden cargo plane that Hughes himself piloted on its brief and only flight of one mile, 70 feet above Long Beach Harbor in 1947. As a result of the failures of the HK-1 program and other prototypes developed by Hughes, he was called to testify before the U.S. Senate's Truman Committee in 1947 to justify use of government money on wasteful defense contracts. In 1953, Hughes turned over ownership of the Hughes Aircraft Company to the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
Hughes also had a career in the movie business as a director and producer. He directed Two Arabian Nights (1928), Hell's Angels (1930), and The Outlaw (1943). Hughes bought the Hollywood movie studio RKO in 1948.
Howard Hughes moved to Las Vegas, Nevada November 27, 1966, and took up residence on the top two floors of the Desert Inn. When asked to vacate his room, he purchased the hotel. At this point in his life, Hughes became increasingly reclusive, and he used his suite in the Desert Inn as the hub of his business ventures for four years. Hughes purchased real estate in Las Vegas and started the Summa Corporation in 1972, a holding company that managed Hughes's remaining investments and primarily developed and managed the Hughes real estate holdings on the west side of the Las Vegas Valley. By 1970, Hughes had purchased $65 million of Las Vegas hotels, casinos, and property, making him the largest single property owner in Nevada at the time. By this point, he controlled approximately 20% of all the hotel rooms on the Las Vegas Strip. His holdings also included approximately 25,000 acres that became the master-planned community of Summerlin, an affluent suburb of Las Vegas.
In November 1970, Hughes secretly left Las Vegas and moved to the Bahamas. Hughes died on April 5, 1976, on a flight from Mexico to Houston, Texas.
Burbank, Jeff. "Howard Hughes." Online Nevada Encyclopedia, July 11, 2011. http://www.onlinenevada.org/articles/howard-hughes
Howard Hughes Professional and Aeronautical Photographs, 1916-1997. PH-00321. Special Collections, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.
Materials were donated in 1996 by the Howard Hughes Corporation via the UNLV Foundation; accession number 1996-21.
Materials were processed by Special Collections staff. In 2015, as part of a legacy finding aid conversion project, Lindsay Oden and Hannah Robinson wrote the collection description in compliance with current professional standards.