Object Story and Significance:

Maggie Gee (1923-2013) was one of two Chinese American women (alongside Hazel Ying Lee) to join the groundbreaking Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) program during World War II. To avoid the controversy of placing women in active combat, the WASP program was classified as civilian, however, pilots nevertheless flew dangerous, critical missions and 38 WASP members lost their lives over the course of service. To free up male pilots for deployment, Gee and fellow WASPs performed vital functions, including safety testing new planes coming off assembly lines, transporting planes from factories to airbases, training male pilots, towing targets for live anti-aircraft gun practice, and copiloting fighter planes in mock air fights. It was not until 1977 that Gee and fellow WASPs were recognized and granted military status, finally making them eligible for veteran benefits and the full honors of a military funeral.

In joining the WASPs, Gee was fulfilling her dream of following in Amelia Earhart’s footsteps and using her passion and flying skills in service to her country. At the outbreak of the war, Gee, who was then a student at the University of California, Berkeley, decided to put her studies on hold to work in ship production at Mare Island Naval Shipyard alongside her mother. She gradually saved money for flight lessons to aid her application to the newly formed and highly selective WASP program.

Her Airman Identification Card, issued by the Civil Aeronautics Administration, and her Honorable Discharge Certificate attest to her courageous service and help tell the story of Chinese Americans and women breaking barriers and making history during World War II. These objects are being considered for display in MOCA’s new upcoming permanent exhibition.

Details of damage:

2016.004.002 Maggie Gee's Airman ID card, front, details of post-fire damage.
2016.004.002 Maggie Gee's Airman ID card, verso, details of post-fire damage.
2016.004.002 Maggie Gee's Airman ID card. Note how folded sections have completely broken off.
2016.004.002 Maggie Gee's Airman ID card. Note the staining caused by the adhesive and how the photograph is detaching from the card.
2016.004.002 Maggie Gee's Airman ID card. Note how the layers of paper are separating and the heavy grime that has built up on the surface.
2016.004.246 Maggie Gee's Honorable Discharge Certificate, December 20, 1944. Front, details of post-fire damage. 朱美娇的的光荣退役证书,1944 年 12 月 20 日。正面,火灾后损坏的细节。
2016.004.246 Maggie Gee's Honorable Discharge Certificate, December 20, 1944. Back, details of post-fire damage.
2016.004.246 Maggie Gee's Honorable Discharge Certificate, December 20, 1944. An example of the staining on the back. It is being kept in a protective sleeve to prevent further damage, the reflection of which can be seen on the photo.

Post-Fire Condition: 

The ID card is in poor condition. The card is worn and grimy from use and the three sections were previously mended with a pressure-sensitive tape that is now discolored and has stained the paper and photograph. The left tape mend at the left fold has given way and the card is now in two pieces and tenuously held together. The tapes and general use have caused deformation in the piece.

On the certificate, there is moderate surface grime overall, a crease across the top right, and some brown liquid stains at the bottom left that are partially visible in areas on the front.

With the support of your donation, we would:

For the Airman ID Card:

  • Lightly remove grime from the surface
  • Remove all damaging tapes and adhesives
  • Assess staining and residues from adhesive and remove where possible
  • Consolidate cracking in photograph and any lifting gelatin layers along edges
  • Mend paper edges and re-adhere the detached paper pieces with toned Japanese paper and wheat starch paste
  • Attach the photo back in place with wheat starch paste
  • Lightly humidify and flatten the card

For the Honorable Discharge Certificate:

  • Lightly remove grime from the surface and flatten the crease at the upper right

Please help us fund their conservation!

Total Conservation Cost: $3,500

If you would like to make a contribution towards the repair of Maggie Gee’s ID and certificate, please click to navigate to MOCA’s Donate Page and be sure to specify these as the object you would like to sponsor. Please also kindly send a brief email to to notify us of your donation.



In Partnership with the Intrepid Museum | On Liberty: Zooming into Museums Across the Country

October 26, 2022, 6:00 pm7:00 pm

2015.037.005 Kenneth P. Moy sitting on a plane painted with the iconic shark's jaws flown by American Volunteer Group (AVG) fighter pilots, or "Flying Tigers." On the back of the photograph, "China 1944" has been written. Courtesy of Douglas J. Chu, Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) Collection.