Photo of Garrett McKinnon and Mary and Alan Atterbury

Meet Garrett McKinnon, 2023-24 Pearson Fellow in Aerospace History

Photo of Linda Hall Library fellow Garrett McKinnon

Garrett McKinnon

The Linda Hall Library is pleased to welcome Garrett McKinnon, the inaugural recipient of the Jerome Pearson Fellowship in Aerospace History. This fellowship provides up to two months of research support to a postdoctoral scholar studying any aspect of aerospace history.

McKinnon is an incoming Teaching Assistant Professor in the History Department at North Carolina State University, where he teaches classes on U.S. history and military history. He earned his BA and MA in history from Louisiana State University and a PhD in history from Duke University. He will spend the summer in Kansas City working on a new book entitled Automating Violence: A History of United States Drone Warfare, which will examine how cultural and social factors contributed to the American military’s embrace of “pilotless,” “drone,” or “unmanned” aircraft from World War I up to the recent past.

This research trip will not be McKinnon’s first visit to the Linda Hall Library. As a graduate student at Duke, he received a short-term travel fellowship to explore the Library’s holdings. During the fall of 2019, he located numerous government documents, military reports, and conference proceedings related to drone warfare—more than he could consult over the course of a few weeks. The Pearson Fellowship will give him the opportunity to study these sources in greater detail. He is particularly eager to examine publications issued by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s Advisory Group for Aerospace Research and Development, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and Britain’s Royal Aeronautical Society. These materials shed light on the American deployment of drones during the Cold War and the subsequent emergence of an international drone market during the final decades of the twentieth century.

“I am excited and grateful to return to the Linda Hall Library and work with the numerous items in its stacks that are relevant to my ongoing book project,” McKinnon said. “The Library’s collections will help me write two new chapters for my book that were absent from my doctoral dissertation and which extend the project’s scope up to the present moment. I am also glad to have had the opportunity to meet Mary and Alan Atterbury whose generous support has made this trip to the Linda Hall Library possible.”

Further information about McKinnon’s research and the other members of the Library’s 2023-24 fellowship cohort can be found here.

Photo of Garrett McKinnon and Mary and Alan Atterbury

Garrett McKinnon, Mary and Alan Atterbury

About the Pearson Fellowship

The Jerome Pearson Fellowship honors the life and legacy of its namesake, the Kansas City-born aerospace engineer best known as one of the inventors of the space elevator. The fellowship was established in 2022 thanks to the generous support of Pearson’s sister and brother-in-law, Mary and Alan Atterbury. The Library will begin accepting applications for its 2024-25 research fellowships, including the Pearson Fellowship, in the fall of 2023.