The Pan Am Historical Foundation, a 501(c)(3) educational foundation, was established in 1992 to preserve and promote the legacy of Pan American World Airways. The mission was exciting.
Initiated by a small group of former Pan Am employees, the foundation addressed the threat that a comprehensive account of the company's historic contributions to aviation could be lost through the dissolution of corporate records and artifacts in the aftermath of PanAm ceasing operations in 1991.
The foundation's newly formed board of directors successfully raised the needed funds, and acquired such assets through the bankruptcy proceedings and subsequently placed them with appropriate organizations for professional stewardship.
These repositories of the Pan Am legacy now include HistoryMiami, the SFO Museum, the Smithsonian Institution, and the University of Miami's Otto G. Richter Library Special Collections.
From less than a dozen members at its beginnings, the foundation's general membership has grown to include many hundreds of individuals, all dedicated to the goal of saving and sharing the Pan Am story for current and future generations. Both the entire general membership and the board of directors volunteer their services to this cause. In recent years, the foundation has furthered its mission by seeking partnership opportunities with other important organizations within the Pan Am family and by sponsoring the annual Abrams-Banning Research Grant at the University of Miami Library Special Collections.
Current, ongoing foundation projects include a Pan Am documentary film and the development of a traveling museum exhibit, in addition to long-term strategies to energize public knowledge and appreciation for the many contributions made to America and the world by Pan American World Airways.