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RG3441.AM:  Betty (Grace Elizabeth) Clements, 1918-1965

Papers:  1935-1965

Elmwood, Cass County and Lincoln, Lancaster County, Neb.; Phoenix, Ariz.:  Student, Pilot, Physician, Neurologist

Size:  2.0 cu.ft.; 4 boxes


Grace Elizabeth (Betty) Clements, daughter of Guy L. and Marie Clements, was born in Elmwood, Nebraska, on April 14, 1918. After completing high school in three years and with her class’s highest average, Betty attended the University of Nebraska on a Regent’s Scholarship. After graduating from the University of Nebraska with a degree in education in 1939, Betty was Supervisor of Physical Education for Girls in the McCook Public Schools and at McCook Junior College. She took her first flying lessons while employed in McCook. Clements resigned this position in 1941 to supervise in the Hastings Public School System and to teach at Hastings College.

Having earned her private pilot’s license in 1942, Clements entered the Army Air Corps Flight Training program in February of 1943. She was commissioned as a WASP (Women’s Airforce Service Pilot) and her duties included Air Transport Command duty, transport duty for the atomic bomb group, and test flight duty. After receiving her honorable discharge in December of 1944, Clements attended the American Red Cross training school for hospital workers at American University in Washington, D.C. She served in the Philippines with the 314th General Hospital and the 4th General Hospital. She also worked with patients at the Tala Leprosarium near Manila.

After her World War II service, Clements enrolled at the University of Nebraska Medical School and received her degree in 1952. She was appointed an intern at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, on July 1, 1952, and was selected to be resident in Internal Medicine at the same institution in July of 1953. During this period she decided upon neurology as her specialty. Dr. Clements obtained an appointment as Fellow in Neurology at the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine on October 1, 1954, and completed her Fellowship in December of 1957. After spending the winter quarter of 1958 at the National Hospital, London, in the Outpatient Department of Neurology, she returned to Phoenix as one of the founding medical doctors of the Barrow Neurological Institute of St. Joseph’s Hospital. She was also a member of the medical staff of Good Samaritan and Memorial Hospitals, and a consultant to the Arizona State Hospital as well as to the Veterans Administration Hospital.

Diagnosed with cancer in 1960, Dr. Clements underwent several surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy treatments. She died at age forty-seven on July 17, 1965.


This collection consists of four boxes of manuscript material and one oversized folder arranged in four series: 1) Correspondence, 1935-1965; 2) Aviation Materials, 1940-1947; 3) Medical Career Materials; and 4) Miscellany. The fourth box was added to the collection later and is unprocessed. This collection documents various aspects of Dr. Betty Clements’s life, including her student experiences at the University of Nebraska, her years teaching in McCook and Hastings, her aviation training and Red Cross work during World War II, and her post-war medical training and career.

The Correspondence, 1935-1965, of Series 1 reflects Betty Clements’ experiences away from home as a student, as a teacher, undergoing pilot training as a WASP (Women’s Airforce Service Pilot) during World War II, as a Red Cross hospital worker in the Philippines in 1945, and during her training and career as a doctor. Most of the letters were written between Betty and her mother, but several letters, particularly during World War II, were written to and from Betty and her brother, Dwight, who was the first soldier from Cass County, Nebraska, to be drafted. While Betty describes her experiences to her family, Mrs. Clements relates neighborhood news about Elmwood, including their relationship with neighbor Bess Streeter Aldrich, and their family. Of particular interest are Betty’s lengthy descriptions of flight school training in 1943 in Sweetwater, Texas, and missions that she flew in 1943 and 1944. Most of her missions required her to transport planes from factory to bases or to fly planes from base to base. While working for the Red Cross, her letters from the Philippines in 1945 (she arrived just before VJ Day) describe the difficult conditions faced by soldiers in New Guinea and Leyte. Her post-war medical training and career are not as well documented as the student and World War II period.

The Aviation Materials, 1940-1947, of Series 2 include the training guides Clements used while studying to be a pilot during World War II. Also in this series are publicity materials about and newsletters for WASPs, including a Life Magazine feature article about the Women’s Flying Training Detachment program. (Betty is included in some of the photographs accompanying this article.) The Medical Career Materials of Series 3 contain newsletters and newspaper clippings relating to Clements’ wartime hospital service in the Philippines; her doctoral dissertation on Hansen’s Disease; certificates awarded to her; articles written and collected by Dr. Clements; and newspaper clippings. The Miscellany of Series 4 includes materials relating to Clements’ funeral and memorials to her; her address book; biographical materials; and papers relating to Dwight Clements’ enlistment in World War II.


Series 1 – Correspondence, 1935-1965

Box 1


  1. 1935

  2. 1936

  3. 1937

  4. 1938

  5. 1939

  6. Undated 1930s

  7. 1940, Jan.-Apr.

  8. 1940, May-Dec.

  9. 1941-1942

  10. 1943, Mar.-June

  11. 1943, July-Sept.

  12. 1943, Oct.-Dec.

  13. 1944, Jan.-May

  14. 1944, June-Dec.

Box 2


  1. 1945, Apr.-Aug.

  2. 1945, Sept.-Dec.

  3. 1946, 1953, 1958, 1965

  4. Dwight Clements to parents, 1943-1946

Series 2 – Aviation Materials, 1940-1947

  1. Flight Instructor’s Manual, 1940

    Ground Instructor’s Manual, 1940

  2. Flight Instructor: A Training Manual, 1943

  3. Instrument Flying-Basic

    Instrument Flying-Advanced

  4. Instrument Flying-Basic and Advanced

  5. Instrument Flying-Instrument Trainer

    Pilot’s Radio Manual

    Navigation-Bomber Training Group

  6. Pilots’ Information File, 1945

  7. Aircraft Clearance and Arrival Reports, 1944

    Press release about military status for WASPs, 1944

    Regulations regarding certification of WASPs, 1944

  8. WASP newsletters, 1944-1947

Box 3


  1. Order of Fifinella, 1944-1947

  2. 318th AAFFTD, Class of 43-W-4 and 43-W-5

  3. Miscellany

    Life Magazine, July 19, 1943: feature article on female pilots (see OB084)

    Recognition Journal, September, October, and December 1944 (see OB084)

Series 3 – Medical Career Materials

  1. Hospital work in the Philippines

  2. Recent Trends in Segregation Regulations for Control of Hansen’s Disease in the United States by Grace Elizabeth Clements (Ph.D. of Medicine dissertation)

  3. Certificates; articles written and collected by Clements; newspaper clippings

    Certificate; Univ. of Neb. College of Medicine (Omaha) class photo, 1952 (see OB084)

Series 4 – Miscellany

  1. Funeral materials

  2. Memorials

  3. Address book; biographical sketches

  4. Dwight Clements’ military enlistment papers

Box 4

Miscellaneous unprocessed materials



Air pilots

Air pilots, Military

Aldrich, Bess Streeter, 1881-1954

American Red Cross

Cass County (Neb.) — History

Clements, Betty (Grace Elizabeth), 1918-1965

Clements, Dwight l. (Dwight Leland), 1920-

Elmwood (Neb.) — History

Hospitals — Philippines



Student activities — Nebraska — Lincoln

University of Nebraska – Lincoln

Women air pilots

Women physicians

Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASPS)

World War, 1939-1945 — Hospitals

World War, 1939-1945 — Medical care

World War, 1939-1945 — Personal narratives

World War, 1939-1945 — Women


AIF/kfk   04-19-2004

Encoded TMM   03-11-2010