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Isabel Burgess Papers 1900-1999

FM MSS 127

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Burgess, Isabel A., 1912-
Title: Isabel Burgess Papers
Inclusive Dates: 1900-1999
Quantity: 30 Boxes (16.5 Linear Feet)
Abstract:This collection contains a variety of materials documenting Isabel Burgess's public and personal life, including her association with the Episcopal Church, awards, friends, travels, biographical files, work with the National Transportation Safety Board, and an oral history describing her time with the Heard Museum in Phoenix. This collection is arranged in seven series and alphabetically and chronologically within except as noted.
Identification: FM MSS 127
Language: Material in English
Repository: Arizona State University Library. Greater Arizona Collection
P.O. Box 871006
Tempe, AZ 85287-1006
Phone: (480) 965-4932
Questions? Ask An Archivist!

Biographical Note

Isabel Andrews Burgess was born in Cleveland, Ohio on April 3, 1912 to William Andrews and Alice Ball Andrews. She attended one year of college at Ohio and Mills College in Oakland, California and one year at Western Reserve University in Cleveland, where her major was art history. In 1939, Isabel married Richard Burgess, a certified public accountant and managing partner of Alexander Grant Company. They had three children, Richard B. Burgess, Thomas H. Burgess, and Susan (Burgess) Cordsen. They divorced in 1967.

Art and public service were abiding interests throughout her life. In Ohio, she was active in the League of Women Voters (LWV) and became a local chapter president. After the Burgess family relocated to Phoenix in 1948, she served as LWV secretary and president of the Visiting Nurses Services auxiliary. She also volunteered at the Heard Museum, where she was elected Secretary to the Board of Directors. Isabel's love for art and culture led to her involvement in other arts organizations. She was a founder of the Phoenix Arts Council, a member of the Phoenix Art Museum, and a charter member of the Phoenix Symphony Guild.

Isabel also became active in Republican politics and began a Republican Party Group within her district. This was a time of increased Republican Party activism and influence in Arizona. She became well known in Republican circles and was encouraged to run for the Arizona State Legislature in 1952. She served three terms in the Arizona State House of Representatives (1953-54, 1957-58, and 1961-66) and one in the Arizona State Senate (1967-69). While in the Arizona House of Representatives, she served as Chairman of the Highways and Transportation Committee and as Chairman of the Joint Senate and House Interim Transportation Committee. These committees introduced her to the inner workings and technical aspects of the State Highway Department, the Arizona Highway Patrol, railroad systems, interstate trucking, airport operators, and civil and military aviation. Isabel Burgess also served on the Board of Governors for the Council of State Governments and was a member of the National Legislative Transportation Committee.

In 1966, she became the first Republican woman elected to the Arizona State Senate. During her tenure, Isabel was Chairman of the Arizona State Senate Highway and Transportation Committee. As chairman, she oversaw all aspects of transportation in Arizona including highway construction and design; highway patrol; highway safety programs standards; truck, bus, and rail transportation; and airport design.

In 1969, Isabel Burgess was nominated by President Richard Nixon to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). At the time, there was considerable interest in nominating politicians and civil servants from varied backgrounds for federal appointments. Her record as chairman of the National Legislative Transportation Committee and the fact that she was a woman made her an ideal candidate. She attributed her successful appointment to the support of Senator Barry M. Goldwater and Representative John Rhodes.

As a member of the NTSB, Isabel Burgess was involved in many on-the-scene accident investigations and chaired several public hearings related to transportation accidents. These ranged from bus accidents and aviation crashes to vehicular collisions and car gas tank explosions. Overall, she conducted 17 investigations and was involved in 12 hearings. As a member of NTSB she traveled extensively both within the United States and abroad delivering speeches advocating transportation safety issues at numerous conferences sponsored by transportation companies, industry associations, and transportation specialists.

Each member of NTSB had an area of specialized interest. Mrs. Burgess worked primarily with aircraft cabin safety, security of galleys and galley equipment, proper jumpseats, improvement of interior emergency lighting materials, and evacuation slides. She was named "Outstanding Woman in the Field of Life Support" in 1971 by the Survival and Flight Equipment Association. She was also awarded honorary membership in the Flight Attendants Association in 1972. Mrs. Burgess was seen by many members of the flight industry as being an advocate for transportation safety, as is clearly documented in her correspondence. For additional related materials, view the McDermott Library General Aviation collection at the University of Texas at Dallas (

Following her appointment to the NTSB, Mrs. Burgess worked as a Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Energy and Minerals in the Department of Interior from 1976 to 1977. She was responsible for developing and coordinating the Task Force on Availability of Federally Owned Mineral Land established by the Secretary of the Interior.

Mrs. Burgess retired from public service in January of 1977. She died September 17, 1999 in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains a variety of materials documenting Isabel Burgess's public and personal life, including her association with the Episcopal Church, awards, friends, travels, biographical files, work with the National Transportation Safety Board, and an oral history describing her time with the Heard Museum in Phoenix. This collection is arranged in seven series and alphabetically and chronologically within except as noted.

Among the subjects described in this collection are the death of stewardess Margareth Abraham in the crash of flight 980 near Saint Croix, the dedication of the Margareth Abraham Plaza, the DC-9 airplane wreckage near Boston, Massachusetts, the NTSB Midway A737 crash hearing, airline safety and professional associations related to the airline industry, hazardous materials, the Alaskan pipeline, U.S.-Russian conferences on transportation, hearings related to NTSB, and reports on the availability of mineral lands. Of particular note is Burgess's correspondence with such prominent individuals as Barry Goldwater and Sandra Day O'Connor.


This collection consists of thirty boxes divided into seven series:
Series I: Personal
Series II: Personal Correspondence
Series III: National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)
Series IV: National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Correspondence
Series V: Personal Journals
Series VI: Newsclippings
Series VII: Photographs, Albums, and VHS


Access Restrictions

To view this collection, make an appointment at least five business days prior to your visit by contacting Ask an Archivist or calling (480) 965-4932. Appointments in the Wurzburger Reading Room at Hayden Library (rm. 138) on the Tempe campus are available Monday through Friday. Check the ASU Library Hours page for current availability.


The Arizona Board of Regents retains copyright to this collection for and on behalf of the Arizona State University Library. Requests to publish, display, or redistribute information from this collection must be submitted via our online application.

Related Material

Additional materials regarding the subjects documented in this collection may be found in the University of Texas at Dallas McDermott Library's General Aviation collection (

Access Terms

Personal Name(s)
Abraham, Margareth, d. 1970.
Burgess, Isabel A., 1912- -- Archives.
Burgess, Isabel A., 1912- -- Interviews.

Corporate Name(s)
Air Line Pilots Association.
Arizona. Legislature. House of Representatives.
Arizona. Legislature. Senate.
Heard Museum.
United States. National Transportation Safety Board.

Aeronautics, Commercial.
Aircraft accidents.
Airports -- Design and construction.

Administrative Information

Custodial History

Susan (Burgess) Cordsen donated these materials to the Arizona Historical Foundation in 2000.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Isabel Burgess Papers, FM MSS 127, Arizona State University Library.


The Arizona Historical Foundation transferred these materials to the Arizona Collection in 2012.

Processing Note

The original order of these materials is unknown. Folder titles reflect original folder labels. This collection was traditionally processed and weeded of duplicates and extraneous material not pertinent to Isabel Burgess. Because Burgess simultaneously kept multiple journals and photograph albums, some of these items overlap chronologically.

Container List

Series I: Personal
11 Arizona State Senate, House of Representatives, 1962-1969
12 Arizona Town Hall Meeting of the Arizona Academy, 1974
13 Awards, 1967-1987
14 Biography, Undated
15 83rd Birthday Book, 1995
16 Burgess, Richard Candidate Information, 1970
17 China Romania Trip, 1978
18 Class Reunions, 1979-1987
19 Clean Air Conservationist, 1967-1969
110 Ecuador Peru Trip, 1975
111 Harper, John C. (Reverend of Saint John's Church, Lafayette Square, Washington), 1984-1993
112 Heard Museum, Director's Circle Oral History, 1993-1996
113 League of Women Voters, Phoenix and East Maricopa County, 1968
114 McDowell Mountains: Proposition 400, 1995
115 Memorabilia, Undated
Includes theatre programs.
21 Presidential Inauguration Invitations, 1969-1981
22 Retirement Documents, 1977
23 River Trips, 1969
24 South American Trip, S.S. Britanis, 1974
25 Watergate Residence, 1971
Includes one photograph of a view from Isabel Burgess' Watergate apartment in 1971.
26 Who's Who of American Women, 1972-1978
Series II: Personal Correspondence
27 Author Unknown, 1959-1999
28 A, 1969-1976
29 B, 1969-1999
210 C, 1968-1999
211 D, 1969-2000
212 E, 1969-1999
31 F, 1967-1999
32 Family, 1994
33 G, 1966-1999
34 H-I, 1967-1999
35 J, 1969-1999
36 K, 1969-1999
37 L, 1969-1999
38 M, 1969-1999
39 N, 1967-1999
310 O, 1967-2000
311 O'Connor, Sandra Day, 1981
These letters support O'Connor's nomination.
312 P-Q, 1967-1999
313 R, 1962-1999
314 S, 1969-1999
315 T, 1969-1999
316 U-V, 1969-1986
317 W, 1967-1999
318 X-Z, 1969
Series III: National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)
41 Abraham, Margareth: Flight 980, DC-9 Crash, in Saint Croix on 1970 May 2, 1970-1972
42 Air Force Industry Midair Collision Prevention Conference, 1976
43 Airline Pilots Association (ALPA), 1989-1991
44 Airline Pilots Association (ALPA): Review of the 7th Access to Skies Conference, 1992
45 Airline Pilots Association (ALPA): 18th Air Safety Forum, 1971
46 Airline Reports, 1974
47 Alaskan Land Mineral Availability Task Force, 1976
48 Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, 1969-1976
49 American Gas Association: 5th Annual Symposium on Pipeline Research, 1974
410 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, San Francisco, 1972
411 American Short Line Railroad Association Pacific Regional Meeting, Park City, Utah, 1973
412 American Trucking Association, 1973
413 Association of Flight Attendants, Washington D.C., 1974
414 Association of Local Transportation Airlines (ALTA) Meeting, Toronto, 1974
415 Association of the National Defense Executive Reserves Membership List, 1989
416 Aviation Daily, 1969
417 Binder, 1975
418 Burgess, Isabel: Swearing in Ceremony Attendee List, 1969
419 Burgess, Isabel: Testimony on Aviation Oversight Hearings on Activities of the National Transportation Safety Board, 1973
420 Federal Requirement for Crash Fire Services at all Air Carrier Airports, Undated
421 Federally Employed Women, Northern Virginia Chapter, 1972
Includes photographs and speech.
422 Final Report of the Task Force on the Availability of Owned Mineral Lands, Undated
51 Hazardous Materials Disaster Planning Conference, Denver, Colorado, 1975
52 Inter-Service Study Group, 1972
53 Itinerary: London, Dublin, Madrid, 1972
54 Jordan: Explosafe, 1980-1981
55 Lawyer Pilots Bar Association, 1974
56 Maritime Administration Eastern Region Radar School Opening, New York, 1972
57 Motorist's Aid System, 1974-1975
58 National Association of Motor Bus Owners (NAMBO), 42nd Annual Meeting, San Francisco, California, 1971
59 National Conference of Governors' Highway Safety Representatives, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, 1974
510 National Transportation Safety Board Visit to the Association of American Railroads Technical Center, Chicago, Illinois, 1974
511 New York State Annual Legislative Conference on Transportation, 1974
512 Notes and Memos, Undated
513 Notes, Activities, Engagements, and Schedules, 1970-1974
514 National Transportation Safety Board Nomination Hearing in the Congressional Record, 1969-1975
515 Pipeline Accident Report, Long Beach, California, 1981
516 Private Truck Council of America 34th Annual Meeting, 1973
517 Publications, Aerospace, Airline Industry, and Pilots, 1968-1975
518 Publications, National Transportation Safety Board, 1967-1976
519 Publications, Railroad Industry and Trucking Industry, 1969-1970
520 Publications, Teton Dam, 1976
61 Reed, John S., National Transportation Safety Board Chairman, 1972
62 Regular Common Carrier Conference Maintenance Committee, Phoenix, Arizona, 1974
63 Releases, Announcements, Memorandums, 1969-1972
64 Russia Trip: U.S.-USSR Committee Meetings on Transportation, 1974
65 Sherman H. Skolnick vs. Isabel Burgess, Cook County, 1973
66 Society of British Aerospace Companies Flying Display and Exhibition, Farnborough, Hampshire, 1972
67 Society of Senior Aerospace Executives (SSAE), 1990-1996
68 Speeches, 1970-1972
69 Speeches, 1973
610 Speeches, 1974-1975
611 Survival Flight Equipment Association (SAFE) 11th Annual Symposium, Phoenix, Arizona, 1973
612 Survival Flight Equipment Association (SAFE) Management Conference, Monterey, California, 1973
613 United States Air Force Academy, Dining-in, Program, 1969
614 United States Air Force Air Training Command Information Kit, 1969
Series IV: National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Correspondence
71 A, 1970-1976
72 B, 1969-1986
73 C, 1970-1976
74 D-E, 1970-1985
75 F, 1969-1996
76 G, 1969-1981
77 H, 1968-1999
78 I-J, 1970-1976
79 K, 1969-1979
710 L, 1969-1976
711 M, 1968-1982
712 N, 1969-1981
713 O-P, 1970-1992
714 R, 1971-1977
715 S, 1969-1993
716 T-V, 1970-1976
717 W, 1970-1984
Series V: Personal Journals
718 Personal Journals, 1967
81 Personal Journals, 1969 September-1970 January
82 Personal Journals, 1970 January-April
83 Personal Journals, 1970 April-May
84 Personal Journals, 1970 May-July
85 Personal Journals, 1970 July-October
91 Personal Journals, 1970 October-1971 June
92 Personal Journals, 1971 January-April
93 Personal Journals, 1971 April-June
94 Personal Journals, 1971 June-September
101 Personal Journals, 1971 September-1972 January
102 Personal Journals, 1972 January-April
103 Personal Journals, 1972 April-July
104 Personal Journals, 1972 July-October
111 Personal Journals, 1973 March-October
112 Personal Journals, 1973 October-1974 March
113 Personal Journals, 1973 November-1974 March
121 Personal Journals, 1974 March-October
122 Personal Journals, 1974 October-1975 September
123 Personal Journals, 1975 August-1976 June
124 Personal Journals, 1978
131 Personal Journals, 1978 August-1981 November
132 Personal Journals, 1979 February-December
133 Personal Journals, 1980 January-July
134 Personal Journals, 1980
135 Personal Journals, 1981
141 Personal Journals, 1981 January-May
142 Personal Journals, 1981 May-October
143 Personal Journals, 1982
144 Personal Journals, 1982 April-November
145 Personal Journals, 1982 November-1983 July
146 Personal Journals, 1983 January-August
147 Personal Journals, 1983 July-1984 January
148 Personal Journals, 1982 March-1984 December
149 Personal Journals, 1984 January-1985 February
151 Personal Journals, 1985 May-1986 August
152 Personal Journals, 1986 August-1988 May
153 Personal Journals, 1988 July-1989 September
154 Personal Journals, 1989 September-1991 January
155 Personal Journals, 1989 April-1991 February
161 Personal Journals, 1991 February-September
162 Personal Journals, 1991 January-1992 May
163 Personal Journals, 1992 July-1993 May
164 Personal Journals, 1993 May-1995 July
165 Personal Journals, 1995 December-1996 July
166 Personal Journals, 1996 September-December
167 Personal Journals, 1997 November-1998 April
171 Personal Journals, 1997 August-1998 December
172 Personal Journals, 1999 March-August
173 Personal Journals, Undated
174 Calendars and Address Books, 1969
175 Calendars and Address Books, 1993
176 Calendars and Address Books, 1994
177 Calendars and Address Books, 1995
178 Calendars and Address Books, 1997
179 Calendars and Address Books, 1998
181 Calendars and Address Books, Undated
182 Calendars and Address Books, Undated
183 Calendars and Address Books, Undated
184 Calendars and Address Books, Undated
185 Address List, Undated
Series VI: Newsclippings
186 Bennett, Hugh Murder (President of Teledyne McCormick Seth Aeronautics Plant), 1976
187 Binder 1, 1966-1969 (1 of 3)
188 Binder 1, 1952-1969 (2 of 3)
189 Binder 1, 1964-1969 (3 of 3)
191 Binder 2, 1966-1968
192 Loose, 1967-1969
193 Loose, 1970-1973
194 Loose, 1974-1979
Series VII: Photographs, Albums, and VHS
195 Aerotrain, Orleans France, 1970
196 Airline Pilots Association (ALPA) Meeting, 1970
197 Airline Pilots Association (ALPA) Meeting, Dallas, Texas, 1971
198 Alaska Trip, 1970 (1 of 2)
201 Alaska Trip, 1970 (2 of 2)
202 Alaskan Pipeline Trip, 1971
203 Albuquerque, New Mexico Trip, 1967
Visit made as Arizona State Senator.
204 American Association of Motor Vehicles Administrators Meeting, Westward Ho, Phoenix, Arizona, 1969
205 Auto Manufacturers Association Luncheon, 1971
206 Boeing 747 Plant, Everett, Washington, Undated
207 Burgess, Isabel Portraits, 1953-1972
208 Burgess, Isabel Portraits, 1957-1998
209 Burgess, Isabel: Swearing in Ceremony Reception for the National Transportation Safety Board, 1969
2010 Cessna Plant, Wichita, Kansas, 1971
211 Colleagues and Employees, 1968-1971
212 Copper Mine, Morenci, Arizona, 1969
213 Dallas Fort Worth Airport Construction, 1972
214 DC9 Airplane Crash Wreckage, Boston, Massachusetts, Undated
215 Dedication of the Maritime Administrators Eastern Region Training Center's Recertification Facility, 1972
216 Europe Trips, 1970-1971
217 Europe Trips, 1971
218 Family, 1962-1965
219 Federal Aviation Association Symposium on Turbulence, 1971
2110 Flying Farmer's Tours, 1966
2111 Friends and Parties, Social Events, 1955-1996
Includes Reg Manning cartoon.
221 Galveston, Texas, 1971
222 Garcia Crespa, Tehuacau, Mexico, Undated
223 General Electric Company, Phoenix, Arizona, 1968
224 Georgetown, Colorado, 1971
225 Gulf Stream GAMA Trip, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), 1971
226 Highway and Transportation Interim Study Committee, 1967
227 Lake of Ozarks Trip, 1970
228 Legislative Council, 1969
229 Los Angeles Greyhound Bus Station Opening, 1967
2210 Malta Trip, 1971
2211 Margareth Abraham Plaza and Dedication, 1972-1973
2212 Midair Collision Hearing, National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB), 1969
2213 Midway A737 Crash Hearing, National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB), Undated
231 Mockup at Benson, Howard Croft and Isabel Burgess, 1973
232 National Drivers Association, Las Vegas, Nevada, 1967
233 National Transportation Safety Board Members, Undated
234 Pan Am Flight Crew, 1970
235 Piedmont Aircraft, Flight Demonstration, Undated
236 Safety Awards, 1969
237 Seattle, Washington, 1971
238 TWA 747 Proving Flight, 1970
24Album 1 Family: Wedding; Baby Pictures; Family Portraits, 1900-1980
24Album 2 Family: Richard and Diane Burgess Wedding (1975), 1928-1982
24Album 3 Family, 1940, 1979-1985
24Album 4 Williams Air Force Base: Civic Leader Tour, San Antonio, Texas, 1969
24Album 5 Family: Farm; New Years, 1970
25Album 1 National Transportation Safety Board; Family; Christmas, 1970-1978
25Album 2 Travel: Trinidad, Mexico, Cape May, Family and Christmas, 1971-1980
25Album 3 Railroad, National Transportation Safety Board, 1973
25Album 4 Family and Travel: Southern Pacific Railroad; Leningrad, Russia; Lake Tahoe, 1973-1974
25Album 5 Family and Friends, Travel: Peru; Grand Canyon, 1975-1978
25Album 6 Travel: Ecuador, Peru, Machu Picchu, 1976
26Album 1 Family and Friends: Tom and Jan Burgess, Wedding, Christmas, 1979-1983
Includes photos of Sandra Day O'Connor.
26Album 2 Family Trips: New Mexico, Europe, 1983-1984
26Album 3 Family and Friends; Travel; Taliesin West, 1984-1986
27Album 1 Family: Christmas, Halloween Party, 1986-1987
27Album 2 Family and Friends, Travel, 1987-1989
27Album 3 Family and Travel: Lake Forest; SR 71 Plane Blackbird; Bloody Basin; Virginia, 1989-1990
28Album 1 Various Family Trips, 1990-1991
28Album 2 Family and Friends, 1991-1992
28Album 3 Family and Friends; Travel: Obituaries, 1993-1994
29Album 1 Family and Friends, 1994-1995
29Album 2 Family and Friends: Reunion; Richard Burgess in Cairo; Castle Hot Springs, 1995-1996
30Album 1 Travel: Semester at Sea Voyage; Japan, China, Vancouver, 1996
30Album 2 Travel: Semester at Sea Voyage; India to Morocco, Egypt, Greece and Israel, 1996
30Album 3 Family and Travel: Michigan, Oregon, Colorado, Arizona, Hawaii, Vancouver, 1997-1998
30Tape 4 S.S. Britanis Circumnavigation of South America, 1994 (1 of 2; VHS)
30Tape 5 S.S. Britanis Circumnavigation of South America, 1994 (2 of 2; VHS)
30Tape 6 Fall Semester at Sea World Voyage, 1996 (VHS)