Publication Date

September 1, 1991

Perspectives Section

AHA Activities

Roger Bilstein and Timothy R. Mahaney are the sixth annual recipients of the Fellowships in Aerospace History, a program supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The fellowships, administered by the AHA in cooperation with the Economic History Association (EHA), the History of Science Society (HSS), and the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT), are awarded in an annual competition by a joint committee of representatives from each organization and chaired by Joseph Harahan, Department of Defense Onsight Inspection Agency. Other members of the committee are Alfred Hurley, University of North Texas (AHA); Larry Schweikart, University of Dayton (EHA); Karl Hufbauer, University of California, Irvine (HSS); and Joseph Tatarewicz, National Air and Space Museum (SHOT).

Dr. Bilstein is a professor of history in the School of Human Sciences and Humanities at the University of Houston at Clear Lake. He received a BA degree in European history from Doane College and an MA and doctorate in recent American history from the Ohio State University. He has taught at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and has been at Houston-Clear Lake since 1974, joining as one of its charter faculty. He has been a Summer Faculty Fellow with NASA and the American Society for Engineering Education at Marshall Space Flight Center and at Johnson Space Center, as well as a visiting scholar in Aerospace History at the National Air and Space Museum. He has received the National Space Council’s Goddard Historical Essay Award and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ History Manuscript Award. Books include Stages to Saturn (the official NASA history of the Apollo/Saturn Launch Vehicles); Flight Patterns: Trends of Aeronautical Development in the United States, 1918–1929; Flight in America: From the Wrights to the Astronauts; and Orders of Magnitude: A History of NACA and NASA.

Dr. Bilstein’s fellowship research will focus on the history of the American aerospace industry, examining trends in internationalization of both aviation and space projects. He notes that “from the flight of the Wright brothers in 1903, to the first supersonic flight in 1947, to the manned lunar landing in 1969, it has been an article of faith that America’s aerospace industry has always been in the forefront. While there is much to be said for this assumption, it most certainly does an injustice to historical reality. American aviation and space technology has always borrowed significantly from foreign sources.” The study conducted during the fellowship will be incorporated into his book on the American aerospace industry.

Mr. Mahaney is a doctoral candidate in history at Auburn University. He previously earned an AB in history and political science from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and an MA from Auburn. He has served as a consultant for public history firms, collecting documents, arranging oral interviews, and working in archives and museums, as well as state and federal agencies. In addition to researching and writing his dissertation American Beatles: From Popular Culture to Counterculture, he is revising his MA thesis for publication.

Mr. Mahaney’s principal interests are in the history of technology and United States history. During the fellowship he will continue work on his dissertation, a study focusing on the effect the arrival of the space age had on the print and electronic mediums and the resulting impact on the nation’s popular culture. In addition, he will examine the relationship between the U.S. space program and the counterculture of the 1960s. He notes: “It is well worth remembering that the emergence of NASA and the embryonic period of the American space agency did not occur in a vacuum. Rather, the agency evolved…during the same decade in which the United States was simultaneously embroiled in the seemingly endless conflict in Vietnam and beset by domestic upheaval, both culturally and politically.”

Application deadline for the 1992–93 fellowship is February 15, 1992. The fellowship is for pre- and post-doctoral research in any area of NASA-related history. For information, write Executive Assistant, AHA, 400 A Street SE, Washington, DC 20003.