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Richard E. Byrd medal ceremony, Indianapolis, Indiana photograph collection

 Collection — Folder: SP021
Identifier: SP021

Scope and Contents

This collection includes photographs and negatives of Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd's visit to Indianapolis, Indiana where he was presented with a medal during a ceremony at Monument Circle on August 25, 1930.


  • 1930/08/24

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

Richard Evelyn Byrd, Jr. was a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy as well as a pioneering aviator and polar explorer. He was born to Richard Evelyn and Esther Bolling (Flood) Byrd on October 25, 1888 in Winchester, Virginia. He joined the navy as a midshipman in 1908 while attending the United States Naval Academy, which he graduated from in 1912. Byrd served 4 years on different ships and was promoted to lieutenant before he was medically retired for an ankle injury in 1916. Byrd married Marie Donaldson Ames, daughter of a wealthy industrialist, on January 20, 1915 and they had 4 children: Richard Eveyn III, Evelyn Bolling, Katherine Agnes, and Helen. The family lived in Boston, Massachusetts. Byrd was then assigned as inspector and instructor for the Rhode Island Naval Militia in Providence. During World War I, he was sent to the naval aviation school in Pensacola, Florida and completed training in June, 1918.

After the war, Byrd volunteered for multiple aerial expeditions but it wasn't until the 1925 expedition to North Greenland that he was able to begin his explorations. On May 9, 1926, Byrd and pilot Floyd Bennett attempted a flight over the North Pole, which lasted nearly 16 hours. After their return from the arctic, both men were awarded the Medal of Honor and Byrd was promoted to the rank of commander. There is some controversy over whether the pair reached the North Pole as they claimed. On June 29, 1927, Byrd finally managed the trans-atlantic flight he longed for but was beaten by Charles Lindbergh by over a month due to injuries and delays. In 1928, Byrd went on his first Antarctic expedition, which involved photographic and geological surveys, and on November 28, 1929, he and his crew were the first to fly over the South Pole. That expedition resulted in Byrd's promotion to rear admiral and the presentation of numerous awards and accolades upon his return to Norht America on June 18, 1930.

On August 25, 1930, Rear Admiral Byrd arrived in Indianapolis, Indiana by airship and accompanied by an honor guard of Hoosier airplanes, as the guest of the 14th annual convention of the National Exchange Club. Byrd was conveyed to an award ceremony at Monument Circle by car accompanied by Governor Harry G. Leslie, Mayor Reginald H. Sullivan, and J. P. Muller, national president of the Exchange Club. There he received a gold medal from Mayor Sullivan in recognition of his daring feats and contributions to science.

Over the next 3 decades, Byrd flew several Antarctic expeditions and on his final mission to the continent during 1955-1956, he helped establish permanent Antarctic bases. Byrd died on March 11, 1957 in Boston, Massachusetts and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.


"Admiral Byrd Dies at 68; Made 5 Polar Expeditions." New York Times, March 12, 1967, 1. Accessed October 8, 2021. "Richard Evelyn Byrd." Find A Grave Memorial. Accessed October 8, 2021.

"Medal of City Presented to Polar Explorer as 15,000 Watch." Indianapolis Star, August 26, 1930, 3. Accessed October 8, 2021. ProQuest.

Ommanney, Francis D. "Richard E. Byrd." Encyclopaedia Britannica. Last updated August 30, 2021. Accessed October 8, 2021.

"Planes Will Zoom Welcome to Byrd, Convention Guests." Indianapolis Star, August 5, 1930, 10. Accessed October 8, 2021. ProQuest.


0.01 Cubic Feet (1 folder)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged by subject.

Custodial History

This collection was received by Rare Books and Manuscripts as a donation.


No further additions are expected.

Processing Information

Collection processing completed 2021/10/08 by Brittany Kropf. EAD finding aid revised 2021/10/08 by Brittany Kropf.
Richard E. Byrd medal ceremony, Indianapolis, Indiana photograph collection
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Repository Details

Part of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Repository

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