The Untold Truth Of Amelia Earhart's Husband George Putnam

Amelia Earhart remains a symbol of aviation and feminism, breaking several records and glass ceilings before her tragic disappearance on one of her historic flights. Earhart's husband, George P. Putnam, was someone of note as well, although the history books have largely relegated him to a footnote in the story of his flashier (and, ultimately, more mysterious) wife.

According to Heavy, Putnam was born into a wealthy, well-established family in the publishing industry, a name that is still easily found on books today. He wanted to establish some independence from his privileged upbringing, and became the publisher and editor of a newspaper in Bend, Oregon. Putnam became well-respected by the Bend community, so much so that he was elected mayor in 1912. He would later return to his native East Coast, working briefly for the family business before serving in World War I, and his life would only continue to get more remarkable.

Putnam led expeditions into the Arctic

After returning home from war, Putnam led two Arctic expeditions (via Heavy). The goal of the trips was to collect wildlife specimens; they were sponsored by the American Museum of Natural History. He was already a big name in publishing, working with clients like Charles Lindbergh, and was transitioning to a role as a promoter, a job more like the modern-day agent. Through his aviation connections with Lindbergh, he met Earhart and became fascinated by the staunchly independent woman, and became her promoter.

Their relationship gradually transitioned from professional to romantic, but Earhart had little interest in marriage, and repeatedly rejected Putnam's proposals. When she finally acquiesced, there were several conditions (via Newsweek). A letter she wrote to her fiancee left in no uncertain terms that the two would not be "bound" to each other, suggesting an open relationship between the two. She also requested that their marriage be broken off in a year if they weren't happy. That second clause wasn't necessary, as they remained married from 1931 until Earhart's disappearance in 1937. The publisher/agent/mayor/Arctic explorer was heartbroken by the loss, and even consulted mediums to help with the grief. Just like Earhart herself, their marriage was largely ahead of its time, and just a little bit eccentric.