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This article is about the American publisher, the author and explorer who lived from 1887 to 1950 and was famous for being married to Amelia Earhart. For his grandfather, the American book publisher who lived from 1814 to 1872, see George Palmer Putnam.

George Palmer Putnam (September 7, 1887 – January 4, 1950) was an Americanmarker publisher, author and explorer. Known for his marriage to Amelia Earhart, he had also achieved fame as one of the most successful promoters in the United States during the 1930s.

Early life

Born in Rye, New Yorkmarker, he was the son of John Bishop Putnam and the grandson of his namesake, George Palmer Putnam, who was the founder of the prominent publishing firm that became G. P. Putnam's Sons. He studied at Harvard Universitymarker and the University of California.

During World War I, George Putnam served with the United States Army field artillery. In 1926, under the sponsorship of the American Museum of Natural Historymarker, he led an expedition to the Arctic, up the west coast of Greenlandmarker. The following year he headed another expedition for the American Geographical Society to collect wildlife specimens on Baffin Islandmarker.

In 1911, he married Dorothy Binney, the daughter of Edwin Binney, inventor and co-owner, with cousin C. Harold Smith, of Binney & Smith Inc., the company that made Crayola crayons. They had two sons, David Binney Putnam and George Palmer Putnam, Jr., and for a time lived in Bend, Oregonmarker, where Putnam was the publisher and editor of the local newspaper, the Bend Bulletin. He was mayor of Bend from 1912 to 1913. He left Bend in 1915 to became the private secretary to Oregon governor James Withycombe. Putnam was also the manager and editor of the Medford, Oregonmarker Mail Tribune, and in 1980 he was inducted into the Oregon Newspaper Hall of Fame for his work there. He created the Mail Tribune in 1909 after combining two newspapers, the Mail and the Tribune, and ran the paper until 1919.

Around 1918, Putnam purchased Salem, Oregonmarker's Capital Journal, which later merged with the Oregon Statesman to become the Statesman Journal, and served as editor for 30 years.

Business interests

Within a few years, the family moved back to the East Coast where George Putnam entered the family publishing business in New York City. There, he was responsible for the publication of the Charles Lindbergh autobiography We.

In 1930, the various Putnam heirs voted to merge the family's publishing firm with Minton, Balch & Co., which became the majority stockholders. George P. Putnam resigned from his position as secretary of G. P. Putnam's Sons and joined New York publishers Brewer & Warren as vice president.

A significant event in Putnam's personal and business life occurred in 1928, before the merger. Because of his reputation for working with Lindbergh, he was contacted by Amy Guest, a wealthy American living in Londonmarker who wanted to sponsor the first-ever flight by a woman across the Atlantic Oceanmarker.

Amelia Earhart

Guest asked Putnam to find a suitable candidate and he eventually came up with the then-unknown Amelia Earhart. As it turned out, they shared many common interests: hiking, swimming, camping, riding, tennis and golf. Having divorced in 1929, Putnam spent an extensive amount of time with Earhart, which resulted in an intimate relationship and, in 1931, their marriage.

Following Earhart's successful 1932 flight, Putnam organized her public engagements and speaking tour across the United States. Shortly after, he took charge of promoting her career and arranged for endorsement contracts with a luggage manufacturer and a line of ladies' sportswear. In addition, Putnam published two books Earhart wrote about her flying adventures.

Earhart disappeared in 1937 while attempting to set another flying record, and Putnam published her biography in 1939 under the title Soaring Wings. Putnam later donated many of Earhart's belongings, including a flight jacket, to Purdue Universitymarker, where she had worked as a career counselor. Other personal effects were sent to the Women's Archives in New York.

Putnam had Earhart declared dead on January 5, 1939, and remarried on May 21 of that year to Jean-Marie Cosigny James.

Later years

In 1938, Putnam set up a new publishing company in California, George Palmer Putnam Inc.

With America's entry into World War II in 1941, he rejoined the active military, serving as an intelligence officer, enlisting as a captain and rising to the rank of major by 1942. In 1945, he and "Jeannie" divorced; she had initiated the action, citing incompatibility. Shortly after, he remarried again, to Margaret Havilland.

In late 1949, Putnam fell ill, suffering from kidney failure; he died in Trona, Californiamarker in the first week of 1950, aged 62. He was cremated and his ashes were interred in the Chapel of the Pines Crematory in Los Angelesmarker.

George Putnam authored a number of books, including:
  • Smiting the Rock
  • Hot Oil
  • In the Oregon Country
  • Death Valley and Its Country
  • Hickory Shirt
  • Soaring Wings (1939 biography of Amelia Earhart)
  • Wide Margins (1942 autobiography)


Amelia Earhart, George Putnam's second wife, was the first president of The Ninety-Nines, an organization of (originally) 99 female pilots formed in 1929 for the support and advancement of aviation. Putnam had proposed an award as a means of honoring anyone who supports an individual member of the group (known as a "49 1/2"), a Chapter or Section, or the organization as a whole. The George Palmer Putnam 49 1/2 Award was originated to recognize such exceptional support of The Ninety-Nines.

In 1927, the Boy Scouts of America made George Putnam an Honorary Scout, a new category of Scout created that same year. This distinction was give to "American citizens whose achievements in outdoor activity, exploration and worthwhile adventure are of such an exceptional character as to capture the imagination of boys...". The other eighteen who were awarded this distinction were: Roy Chapman Andrews; Robert Bartlett; Frederick Russell Burnham; Richard E. Byrd; George Kruck Cherrie; James L. Clark; Merian C. Cooper; Lincoln Ellsworth; Louis Agassiz Fuertes; George Bird Grinnell; Charles A. Lindbergh; Donald Baxter MacMillan; Clifford H. Pope; Kermit Roosevelt; Carl Rungius; Stewart Edward White; and Orville Wright.


  1. National Register of Historic Places Continuation Sheet: Drake Park Neighborhood Historic District, Deschutes County, City of Bend, Oregon. Retrieved: October 25, 2007.
  2. "Oregon Newspaper Hall of Fame." Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association. Retrieved: 25 October 2007.
  3. Stiles, Greg. "Future of Mail Tribune's unclear." Mail Tribune, August 2, 2007. Retrieved: October 25, 2007.
  4. Mersinger, Monica. "Statesman Journal Newspaper." Salem Online History, Salem Public Library, 2006. Retrieved: September 6, 2008.
  5. Lovell 1997, pp. 310, 314.
  6. Around the World, Time August 29, 1927. Retrieved: October 24, 2007.

  • Chapman, Sally Putnam, with Stephanie Mansfield. Whistled Like a Bird: The Untold Story of Dorothy Putnam, George Putnam, and Amelia Earhart. New York: Warner Books, 1997. ISBN 0-446-52055-1.
  • Goldstein, Donald M. and Katherine V. Dillon. Amelia: The Centennial Biography of an Aviation Pioneer. Washington, DC: Brassey's, 1997. ISBN 1-57488-134-5.
  • Lovell, Mary S. The Sound of Wings. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1989. ISBN 0-312-03431-8.

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