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John Glenn (1921-2016), a trailblazing astronaut, was the first American to orbit the Earth. In 1959, Glenn was selected as one of the “Mercury Seven,” the men who became America’s first astronauts. On February 20, 1962, Glenn orbited the Earth three times in his spacecraft Friendship 7. A year before, Soviet cosmonaut Yury Gagarin, the first person in space, had orbited the Earth once. John Glenn is remembered as a national hero for his groundbreaking mission.
In 2019, there is great interest in the history of the U.S. space program as July 20, 2019 marked the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s first-ever walk on the moon. The Booth Family Center for Special Collections holds a number of photographs of John Glenn. This post presents five of those images documenting Glenn’s career.
Undated signed photograph of John Glenn sent to Tonita Ridgway Martin, a long-time resident of Georgetown who collected manuscripts and autographs of notable people, including American astronauts. From the Tonita Ridgway Martin papers, box 2 folder 41.
Signed photograph of John Glenn, inscribed to J. Graham Parsons, U.S. Ambassador to Sweden from 1961 to 1967. The photograph was taken just after Glenn’s return to Earth after his famous space voyage on February 20, 1962. Glenn inscribed this particular photograph to Parsons on May 13, 1966. Glenn had visited the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm, Sweden in 1966. From the J. Graham Parsons papers, box 4 folder 43.
John Glenn pictured on the cover of Time magazine on March 2, 1962. Glenn signed the cover. From the Frank Dahlhaus collection, box 1 folder 3. Frank Dahlhaus donated his collection of Time magazine covers to the Booth Family Center.
Undated photograph of John Glenn (left), American astronaut Scott Carpenter (center), and Michael Amrine (right). Amrine was a prominent American writer on scientific issues, especially atomic energy. From the Michael Amrine papers, box 33.1 folder 10.
Photograph dated 1959 of American astronauts John Glenn and Walter Schirra, Jr., inspecting samples of materials to be used in the nose of a space capsule. The materials to be used had to withstand temperatures over 12,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Photograph by Michael Amrine. Michael Amrine papers, box 33.1 folder 10. The Michael Amrine papers contain more photographs of John Glenn in box 33.1 folder 10.
In 1964, Glenn retired from his space career to enter the corporate world and politics. Glenn was elected a U.S. Senator from Ohio in 1974. He subsequently won reelection to that post three times. In 1998, Glenn, at age 77, traveled again in space on the space shuttle Discovery. On this last mission, he took part in experiments investigating the effects of aging responded to the microgravity environment in spaceflight.