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William Addison Price Aerial Photographs of U. S. Route 40


Held at: Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division [Contact Us]

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections


William Addison Price was born in 1915 and grew up in Montclair, NJ. He graduated from Principia College, served as a United States Navy bomber pilot in World War II, and worked as a reporter for the Santa Paula Chronicle, the Springfield Sun, and the New York Daily News. In 1954 and 1955 Price flew across the country to document U. S. Route 40 through aerial photography. His first flight began on August 18, 1954 from Pennsville, NJ in a Consolidated Vultee L-13. He and his friend Bob Bedell travel for 24 days before arriving at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Price took 938 exposures during this trip. The second flight began on September 22, 1955 from New Jersey. He traveled with his friend Jane Hogg for 18 days, but got no further than Kansas before turning back due to weather and mechanical challenges. Price was a committed socialist and in 1956 the Senate Internal Security subcommittee called Price to testify regarding potential Communist infiltration of newspapers, radio, and television. Price invoked the first amendment at his hearing, claiming that the subcommitte did not have jurisdiction to inquire into his political beliefs. In particular the committee wanted to know whether he had used the plane he owned to fly a courier for the Communist International to Latin America. Price was indicted for contempt of Congress for refusing to answer the subcommittee's questions. The Daily News fired price the day before he appeared before the Congressional subcommittee. Price continued to attract the notice of the United States government; in 1972 the FBI placed a wiretap on his home telephone on the suspicion that he may have been cooperating with the Weather Underground. He sued the agents five years later and, in 1981, the Department of Justice awarded him $10,000 for violation of his civil rights. After the Daily News fired him, Price did carpentry work before going on to write for The National Guardian, a left wing newspaper. From the 1970s on, he worked with commuity organizations in New York city to defend tenants' rights and stop urban renewal plans. Price died April 29, 2009.

The collection contains contact sheets (232 sheets), prints (200 images), and negatives (19 individual negatives) of sites along U. S Route 40 that William Addison Price created during his 1954 and 1955 trips across the United States by airplane. A 1992 house fire destroyed most of the negatives and flight logbooks. The prints series also contains some photographs Price took during a 1953 trip to Iraq and Syria and a 1951 trip to West Viriginia. Some of the prints also contain companion Google Earth Maps from 2009. The Ephemera series contains Price's 1955-56 logbook, 5 photocopied pages of an earlier logbook, George Stewart's Book "U. S. 40 Cross Section of the United States of America," and newspaper and magazine clippings. The 5 photocopied pages of the pre-1955 logbook are the only existing information linking the photographs to exact locations.

The archivist preserved the order of the collection as received.

The collection was purchased from Back of Beyond Books in 2022.

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Processed by Alexis Antracoli in September 2022. The following sources were consulted when drafting the description and biographical note: Information provided by Back of Beyond Books and newspaper clippings in the collection.

A hard drive containing scans of the contact sheets was separated from the collection during processing.

Manuscripts Division
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

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Collection Inventory

Prints, 1951-1955.
Contact Sheets, 1954-1955.
Negatives, 1954-1955.
Ephemera, 1953-2000.

Print, Suggest