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Ray T. Matheny family papers

Identifier: MSS 8970

Scope and Contents

Records and correspondence regarding Ray Matheny's World War II service in the Army Air Corps as a B-17 flight crew engineer, dating from 1942 to 2016. Also Matheny's research records regarding World War II relating to his service (1942-1944) and time as a POW at Stalag XVII-B (1944-1945). Later email correspondence generated in the 1990’s and early 2000’s regarding POW reunions and research for Matheny's book “Rite of Passage” is also present as well as papers and emails garnered from involvement in the 379th Bomb Group WWII Association. Cassette tapes record an oral history of Matheny. Also includes flight logs of George M. Ryan (Ray T. Matheny's maternal uncle) from January 1929 to July 1962 documenting his time as a commercial pilot. Materials dated approximately 1929-2016.


  • approximately 1929-2016


Conditions Governing Access

Donor restricted until 2022, with the exception of family members authorized by Ray T. Matheny or Deanne Matheny. Permission to use materials must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services.

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from the Ray T. Matheny family papers must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Coordinating Committee.

Biographical History

Ray T. Matheny (1925- ) is a WWII Army Air Force veteran and a retired professor of anthropology at Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.

Ray Thomas Matheny, Jr. was born February 15, 1925 to Edna Ryan Matheny and Ray Thomas Matheny in Los Angeles, California. Matheny enlisted to serve in WWII in 1942, and was assigned to be the mechanic on a B-17 flight crew. In January 1944, Matheny became a prisoner of war, eventually assigned to Stalag XVII-B. When the war ended, he worked as a mechanic for Western Air Lines before again joining the military to serve in the Korean War. He got a BA from Brigham Young University in 1960 and a PhD in anthropology from the University of Oregon in 1968. Matheny taught at BYU for many years, while participating in archaeological digs to Mayan cities and maintaining connections to the New World Archeological Foundation. Matheny was recognized by the government of Campeche for his contributions to Mayan Archeology in 2002. On May 1, 2009, Matheny published an account of his experience serving in WWII titled Rite of Passage: A Teenager's Chronicle of Combat and Captivity in Nazi Germany. Matheny currently lives in Lindon, Utah with his wife.

Biographical History

George M. Ryan (1909-1983) was an aviator in California.

George Michael Ryan was born on October 2, 1909 in Inglewood, California to Nellie O’Connor Ryan and Michael Ryan. He worked as a pilot for over thirty years. Beginning training in 1929 with the Western College of Aeronautics in Los Angeles where he got his pilot's license, Ryan went on to get his transport license at the California Aerial Transport flying school. Ryan eventually got a job flying for Western Air Lines. In the thirties, Ryan mostly did local flights throughout California and began working for Pilot Meat Service in 1940. On May 18, 1939 Ryan married Marian W. Antrim in Weber, Utah. In 1943, Ryan enlisted in the military and served piloting planes throughout the Western United States. After the war, Ryan continued doing commercial flights serving the greater Western United States until 1962. Ryan is the maternal uncle of Ray T. Matheny and greatly influenced Matheny with his love of aviation. Ryan died on August 15, 1983.


3 cartons (3 linear ft.)

1 box (0.5 linear ft.)

1 oversize box (0.25 linear ft.)

Language of Materials



Arranged in two series: 1. Ray T. Matheny papers, approximately 1942-2016. 2. George M. Ryan flight logs, 1929-1962.

Custodial History

Materials donated by Ray T. Matheny in 2017. Ray T. Matheny papers came directly from Matheny. George M. Ryan's flight logs came from his widow Marian W. Antrim Ryan's family, who gave them to Ray T. Matheny's son Michael Matheny, who gave them to Ray T. Matheny. Matheny then donated them to HBLL Special Collections in 2017.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated; Ray T. Matheny; January 2017.


LDS scholarship and historiography(20th Century Western and Mormon Americana collection development policy II.B.5.III, August 2013).


In box 1 folder 5, 11 cassette tapes converted to 11 CD's and 1 video cassette converted to DVD with all cassettes and CD's, video cassette and DVD in folder 5. In box 1 folder 33, 2 cassette tapes converted to 3 CD's with both cassettes and CD's in folder 33.


Longer biography of George M. Ryan written by Ray T. Matheny is located in the case file.

Processing Information

Processed; Colette Burton, student manuscript processor, and John M. Murphy, curator; 2017.

Register of Ray T. Matheny family papers
Colette Burton
2017 May 3
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English in Latin script.

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Repository

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo Utah 84602 United States