About this Collection

This selection of Wilbur and Orville Wright’s papers at the Library of Congress comprises about 10,121 items (approximately 49,084 digital images) documenting the lives of  the Wright brothers and their pioneering work leading to the world's first powered, controlled and sustained flight. Included in the collection are diaries and notebooks, correspondence, scrapbooks, drawings, printed matter, and other documents, largely from 1900 to 1940, as well as the Wrights' collection of 303 glass-plate photographic negatives. The Wright brothers' letters to aviation pioneer and mentor Octave Chanute, from the Octave Chanute Papers, are also included.

The collection is organized in the following series:

  • Diaries and Notebooks, 1900-19, undated
    Wilbur and Orville Wright's diaries and notebooks, most of which document the brothers' flights at Kitty Hawk and elsewhere as well as their scientific data, formulas, and computations relating to the aerodynamic and design factors which enabled them to achieve flight. Arranged chronologically.
  • Family Papers, 1881-1944
    Correspondence between members of the Wright family, mostly from Orville and Wilbur, their sister Katharine, and their father, Milton. Arranged alphabetically by name of correspondent.
  • General Correspondence, 1899-1952, undated
    Letters sent to and received from friends, the general public, pioneer aviators, business associates, and famous individuals. Arranged alphabetically by name of correspondent.
  • Subject File, 1889-1949, undated
    Correspondence, business papers, legal papers, printed matter, patents, blueprints, and writings. Arranged alphabetically by name, subject, institution, person, or type of material.
  • Scrapbooks, 1902-1914
    Scrapbooks containing newspaper and magazine articles, mostly relating to the Wrights' and other flights, as well as memorabilia such as cartoons, guest badges, and dinner programs. Arranged chronologically.