A Good Summer of Lindbergh Research

As we come to the end of Bethel’s summer break, I’m pretty happy with the research I’ve been able to do for my new Charles Lindbergh biography. As I told historian Jared Burkholder today for his new Historians on the Hot Seat series,

The very idea of writing a spiritual biography of a someone as non-religious as Lindbergh is a bit daunting. I picked up enough hints of those themes in traditional biographies like Scott Berg’s that I thought there was something to the idea. But I held my breath a bit when it actually came time to dig into the archives. Fortunately, there was actually a great deal of intriguing material.

If you’d like to get a taste of what I found, check out the full interview with Jared.

Fragment of Lindbergh diary from April 3, 1944
A fragment of Lindbergh’s diary from April 3, 1944: preparing for his deployment to the South Pacific, he stopped by Brentano’s book store in New York in order to pick up a small New Testament. “Since I can carry only one book,” he explained, “that is my choice. It would not have been a decade ago; but the more I learn and the more I read, the less competition it has” – Yale University, Sterling Memorial Library, Archives and Manuscripts

In it, I also had the chance to think through my research and writing process moving forward, and revisit Sherman Dorn’s notion that digital work like blogging can serve as a kind of “pre-argument” writing.

In fact, I’ve blogged quite a bit about this Lindbergh project, both here and at The Anxious Bench. Here are some Lindbergh-related posts I’ve written just since my April update:

• “‘A Christian Country’: Debating America in 1939” (AB, July 3)

• “The Birth of America First” (PS, June 28)

• “Was Charles Lindbergh Anti-Semitic?” (PS, June 6)

• “The Plot Against America” (AB, May 29)

• “Giving Wings to the Gospel: The Origins of Missionary Aviation” (AB, May 15)

Then my research also inspired me to read up on the spiritual biography of Lindy’s nemesis, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. And my AB post last Wednesday on the newest Catholic church scandal started with me thinking about Lindbergh’s propensity to undertake a spiritual quest without any spiritual community.