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Virgil I. Grissom papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: S0548

Scope and Contents

This collection includes a typed, signed letter from Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom in Houston, Texas on 1964/04/28 regarding George McCullough's support for the space program. There is also an oversize folder with posters regarding Grissom from July 1961 (OBC211).


  • 1964/04/28; 1961 July


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Legal title, copyright, and literary rights reside with Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Biographical Note

Virgil Ivan "Gus" Grissom was born April 3, 1926 in Mitchell, Indiana to Dennis David and Cecile (King) Grissom. He was the oldest of four children. Grissom completed one year of pre-cadet training in the U.S. Army Air Corps, was inducted into the Air Corps in August 1944 and was discharged in November, with the rank of corporal. He married Betty L. Moore on July 6, 1945, and they had two sons. Grissom was graduated from Purdue University in February 1950, with a bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering.

Grissom joined the U.S. Air Force in 1951, commissioned as a second lieutenant and flew 100 missions overseas, during the Korean War. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal. When he returned to the United States, Grissom became an Air Force jet instructor and test pilot, specializing in advanced-design fighter plans, logging more than 4,600 hours as an airplane pilot, 3,500 in jet aircraft. In August of 1955, he entered the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio to study aeronautical engineering.

In April 1959, Grissom was selected as one of the first seven astronauts, known as the "Mercury 7." He was the second man in space in 1961, but his Project Mercury capsule was lost at sea. Grissom then oversaw the design and commanded the first manned mission of the Gemini program. He and a colleague flew around the earth in three orbits on October 23, 1965.

Grissom died January 17, 1967, during a test on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral, Florida. He, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee, the crew chosen for the Apollo I mission, were trapped in the capsule by fire and killed. Grissom was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Sources: "Virgil Ivan "Gus" Grissom." Find a Grave Memorial. Accessed January 23, 2015.

"Grissom, Virgil Ivan." In Indiana Authors and Their Books, 1967-1980, p. 156. Crawfordsville, IN: Wabash College, 1981.

Indiana Department of Natural Resources. "Virgil I. Gus Grissom." Virgil I Gus Grissom Memorial Museum. Accessed January 23, 2015.


0.07 Cubic Feet (1 folder, 1 large oversize folder)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged by subject.

Custodial History

This collection was received by Rare Books and Manuscripts as a donation from Virgil I. Grissom on 1965/01.


No further additions are expected.

Processing Information

Collection processing completed 2015/01/23 by Edythe Huffman. EAD finding aid created 2015/01/23 by Edythe Huffman. EAD finding aid revised 2021/11/19 by Lauren Patton; 2021/11/23 by Brittany Kropf.
Virgil I. Grissom papers
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Repository

140 North Senate Avenue
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204 U.S.A.