Ellington Field was officially opened November 27, 1917, as the United States' largest pilot and navigator training base, and the nation's first aerial bombing school. By the end of World War I, Ellington Field had grown to the size of a small city which housed 20,0000 men and 250 aircraft. Like most bases, it was closed after World War I, but unlike most other military installations, it was reopened and saw at least partial use until World War II, when it was rebuilt as one of ten strategic defense bases in the United States. It was the only strategic defense base on the Gulf Coast. The location of the field was, and still is, crucial to the defense of the Houston Ship Channel, the ports of Galveston and Houston and one of the United States' largest oil refining centers. In 2005, the field was once again expanded to become a Joint Reserves base, to house the combined military forces Reserve Units. In 2005, the U.S. Department of Defense recommended retiring Ellington Field's 147th Fighter Wing F-16 Falcon fighter jets. The aircraft were replaced with MQ-1 Predator unmanned drones and the unit was redesignated as the 147th Reconnaissance Wing. The ANG 272nd Engineering Installation Squadron, was also relocated to Ellington Field. From 1976 to 2007, Ellington Field was partially owned and managed by the Houston Airport System, and the base was also home to the Texas State Guard, NASA's Johnson Space Center, a U.S. Coast Guard Search and Rescue unit, and other aviation related businesses.
Kathryn Black Morrow (1948- ) assembled this collection during her research for a master's thesis, which she completed at the University of Houston, Clear Lake campus, in 2003. She expanded her thesis research and published a history of Ellington Field called Defender of America's Gulf Coast, A History of Ellington Field, Texas 1917-2007, in 2007. Ms. Morrow was born in Houston Texas, and works as a researcher, writer of Texas history, and archivist. Her other books include Guide to the Texas Slave Trade Series, 1818-1886, The 79th Aviation Squadron, Ellington Field, Texas, in World War II, Southeast Texas Colored Voter Registrations, 1867-1869, and Meant to Fly; The Memoirs of Captain A.J. High, Pilot for Trans-Texas Airways.
From the guide to the Ellington Field research collection MS 547., 1917-2009, (Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University, Houston, Texas.)