Amelia Earhart’s Lock of Hair

Zonta International established the Amelia Earhart Fellowship in 1938 in honor of women pursuing Ph.D./doctoral degrees in aerospace engineering and space sciences. Since inception, US$11.3 million has been awarded by ZI to 1,275 women in 76 countries. The Zonta Club of Washington, D.C. is a proud supporter of the ZI Fellowship program and has had five Amelia Earhart Fellowship recipients as club members. Additionally, the Zonta Club of Washington, D.C. received a rather unique Amelia Earhart memento in the early 1960s.

Fifty-Eight years ago a lock of Amelia Earhart’s hair was presented to the Club.  Blanche Noyes, a friend of Amelia’s and fellow American pioneering female aviator and a founder of the Ninety-Nines ( 99s), was a member of the Club and served as the chair of the Club’s Amelia Earhart Committee for some years.

The text below from an August 10, 1964 letter from the Club to the Ninety-Nines provides the answer to how the Club came into possession of the lock of hair and its ultimate home.  

Ninety-Nines, Incorporated

Annual Convention, Cincinnati, Ohio

This lock of Amelia Earhart’s hair was presented to the Washington, D.C. Chapter of ZONTA International on January 8, 1964, by Mrs. Lillian Rogers Parks, the author of “My Thirty Years Backstairs at the White House.”  Mrs. Parks’ mother, “Maggie”, was a maid at the White House for many years and during one of Amelia’s visits there, at the time Franklin D. Roosevelt was President, Amelia cut off this lock of hair, and for many years it was kept by Maggie.  After her death, it was cherished by her daughter, Mrs. Parks, and reference to it is made in her book, “My Thirty Years Backstairs at the White House,” on page 214.

In view of the fact that the 99s are gathering historic material, we thought it might be nice for you to have this lock of Amelia’s hair, so, on behalf of the Washington Chapter of ZONTA International, I present this lock of Amelia Earhart’s hair to you, the NINETY-NINES.

Blanche Noyes,

Chairman, Amelia Earhart Committee

Washington D.C. Chapter 

ZONTA International 

Before her death in 1981, Blanche Noyes, was the speaker at the Club’s 1977 Amelia Earhart event – a luncheon at the Kennedy-Warren Hotel followed by a tour of the Air and Space Museum and showing of the movie “To Fly.” It was reported in the Zontgram that Blanche’s presentation titled “Amelia Earhart As I Knew Her” was “a fascinating account of her friendship with Amelia Earhart” which “gave us a personal feeling for the Zontian we honor each January.” Blanche ended her presentation “with a lovely poem.” Unfortunately, the club does not have a transcript of Blanche’s presentation in the archives, but the club would like to think that the “lovely poem” was penned by no other than Amelia herself.

See interview to Blanche Noyes from the Stewart Media Archives here.