What really happened to

Her bold achievements in aviation made history. Her adventurous spirit remains legendary. But Amelia
Earhart’s magnificent and inspiring life was lost in a tragic mystery. In the decades that followed her
disappearance in 1937, many theories arose about her fate. Now, for the first time ever online, you can
see a unique government case file containing evidence of many questions and investigations that followed.

See what you believe.

The search went on for years. Some investigations
spanned decades. Here’s your chance to conveniently
view once-classified letters written between the
U.S. Congress, the State Department and the U.S.
Military — and newspaper reports discussing theories
on Amelia Earhart’s disappearance.

View all records about Amelia’s disappearance.

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e.g., 16 Jan 1923 e.g. Chicago, Illinois, USA
e.g., 16 Jan 1923 e.g. Chicago, Illinois, USA
A Timeline of Amelia’s Life
  • July 1897 -  Born in Atchison, Kansas
  • 1915 -  Graduated from Hyde Park High School
  • January 1921 -  Had her first flight lesson
  • July 1921 -  Bought her first plane — a second-hand, two-seater biplane she named “Canary”
  • October 1922 -  Set the first women’s altitude record by rising to 14,000 feet
  • June 1928 -  Became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic
  • February 1931 -  Married George Putnam
  • January 1935 -  Became the first person to fly solo across the Pacific Ocean
    from Honolulu to Oakland
  • June 1937 -  Began her attempted flight around the world from Miami
  • July 1937 -  Attempted to fly from New Guinea to Howland Island, maintaining contact with
    the U.S. Coast Guard until 8:45am when her final transmission was made

More Amelia Earhart records:

See the 1930 U.S. Census record showing Amelia Earhart as a flyer in the aviation industry.
View record
See Amelia Earhart’s mother, Amelia or "Amy" Otis in the 1880 U.S. Census at age 11.
View record
Check out a New York passenger list showing Amelia returning from a trip to Southampton.
View record

George P. Putnam and Amelia Earhart, c.1935

1930 U.S. Census record

1880 U.S. Census

New York passenger list

  • July 14, 1960

    In 1960, a California resident formerly from Japan claimed to have seen an “American flying lady” captured in Saipan around the time of Amelia Earhart’s disappearance.

    This letter was written by the U.S. Ambassador to Japan, Douglas MacArthur II, and sent to the Secretary of State to inform him that, due to pressure received after the story’s release, they were reopening the investigation into Amelia’s disappearance.

  • July 16, 1960

    U.S. Army sergeant Thomas E. Devine added fuel to the fire when he claimed to have seen the graves of Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, while on a tour in Saipan years before. According to the story, featured in this California newspaper, a local Saipan woman showed him the unmarked graves of two white people “who came from the sky.”

    Read entire article
  • August 20, 1960

    In this letter, dated August 20, 1960, Congressman Younger — a strong supporter of the reinvestigation — cites Devine’s story as “increasing evidence” that Amelia was executed in Saipan and urges the Secretary of State to continue its investigation, despite claims by the Japanese government that there was “no basis whatever for the rumor.”

  • September 9, 1960

    The Assistant Secretary of the State writes back to Congressman Younger, promising that the Department of the Navy will contact Mr. Devine for further information.

  • December 30, 1960

    Admiral Arleigh Burke, Chief of Naval Operations, writes that they have followed the lead suggested by Congressman Younger and that it “was not conducive to further information on her [Amelia’s] disappearance,” but many people remain unconvinced. What do you think?