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


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

Subject headings:

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

Become a Member!

Our members make history happen.

Join Now

You May Also Enjoy

Marker Monday: Nebraska’s Big Rodeo

Marker Monday: Nebraska’s Big Rodeo

Making Rain

Making Rain

How pioneer trails shaped Omaha streets

How pioneer trails shaped Omaha streets

About History Nebraska
History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
Explore Nebraska
Discover the real places and people of our past at these History Nebraska sites.

Upcoming Events

View our new and upcoming events to see how you can get involved.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.

History Nebraska Education

Learn more about the educational programs provided at our museums, sites, and online.

Education Digital Learning Resources

Find games, lists, and more to enhance your history education curriculum.

History Nebraska Programs

Learn more about the programs associated with History Nebraska.

Latest Hall of Fame Inductee

The Nebraska Hall of Fame was established in 1961 to officially recognize prominent Nebraskans.

Listen to our Podcast

Listen to the articles and authors published in the Nebraska History Magazine with our new Nebraska History Podcast!

Nebraska Collections

History Nebraska's mission is to collect, preserve, and open our shared history to all Nebraskans.

Our YouTube Video Collection

Get a closer look at Nebraska's history through your own eyes, with our extensive video collections.

Additional Research Resources

History Nebraska Research and Reference Services help connect you to the material we collect and preserve.

History Nebraska Services

Digital Resources

Find all of our digital resources, files, videos, and more, all in one easy-to-search page!

Support History Nebraska
Make a cash donation to help us acquire, preserve, and interpret Nebraska’s history. Gifts to History Nebraska help leave a legacy and may help your taxes, too! Support the work of History Nebraska by donating to the History Nebraska Foundation today.

Volunteers are the heroes of History Nebraska. So much history, so little time! Your work helps us share access to Nebraska’s stories at our museums and sites, the reference room, and online.