Amelia Earhart is famous for breaking barriers as the first woman to fly across the Atlantic solo and for disappearing over the Pacific Ocean on a voyage in 1937. But where did the adventurer grow up?
Amelia Earhart was born in Atchison, Kansas and grew up in the city until 1909, when she moved to Des Moines, Iowa. Earhart had a tumultuous childhood, due to her father’s work, and moved to St Paul, Minnesota before moving to Chicago, Illinois.
Read on to learn more about Earhart’s hectic childhood and her legacy.
Growing Up in Kansas
Amelia Mary Earhart was born to Amy and Edvin Earhart on July 24, 1897 in Atchison, Kansas and gained a sister, Muriel, two years later.
Whilst the latter half of her childhood involved multiple relocations, Earhart lived in Atchison until 1909. The two Earhart sisters were raised primarily by their grandparents, as their mother and father relocated to Iowa when her father was transferred to the area for work.
Her maternal grandparents were wealthy, as her grandfather was the president of the Atchison Savings Bank, and Earhart’s life in Kansas was one of comfort and ease.
Whilst now renowned for its association with Earhart, Atchison was formerly just a regular city along the Missouri river, that was experiencing industrialization.
Earhart grew up with her distinctive independent spirit and loved being outdoors playing sports, exploring nature and playing make believe with her sister. Earhart reportedly said of her childhood play, “unfortunately I lived at a time when girls were still girls. Though reading was considered proper, many of my outdoor exercises were not.”
Move to Iowa
Amelia was in the seventh grade when she moved to Iowa to reunite with her parents and saw an aircraft for the first time, although she was largely uninterested by the sight.
Whilst the Earhart family had been reunited, her father’s alcohol abuse caused him to lose his job in 1915 and enter a period of rehab, which put the family under financial strain and ushered in an unhappy period in Earhart’s childhood.
Though out of employment for a while, Edvin found a job in St. Paul, Minnesota, which prompted the family’s next relocation.
Though homeschooled in Atchison, Earhart had enrolled in school in Iowa and was a pupil at Central High school in St. Paul. She wouldn’t remain a student there for long however, as Amelia’s mother took her daughters to Chicago, Illinois, when Edvin lost his job once again.
Earhart eventually graduated from Hyde Park School in Chicago in 1915. Of her family’s frequent moves Earhart said, “I have never lived more than four years in any one place and always have to ask ‘Which one?’ when a stranger greets me by saying, ‘I’m from your hometown’.”
Amelia Earhart’s life and legacy has been celebrated in numerous ways, not least in her hometown. In Atchison, The Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum welcomes visitors hoping to learn more about the aviator’s early life and career, whilst the county has an airport named for the adventurer – the Amelia Earhart Memorial Airport.
Pride for Amelia extends beyond her native Atchison however, and her achievements and advocacy for women’s rights. Amelia was committed to leading the life she wanted, rather than conforming to conventional female roles at the time.
Earhart’s niece told Teen Vogue, “Amelia was a great flier and adventurer, and she was also a great advocate for women’s rights, education for girls and women, and careers for women”.
Her fateful final voyage in 1937, and the mystery surrounding what happened to her, has inspired multiple theories and researchers remain determined to reveal the circumstances of Earhart’s disappearance.
Learn more about Earhart’s life in the YouTube video below.