Collection Items

  • Collection
    Wilbur and Orville Wright Papers at the Library of Congress 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...
    • Date: 1900

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  • Web Page
    Related Resources Selected Bibliography Combs, Harry. Kill Devil Hill: Discovering the Secret of the Wright Brothers. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1979. Crouch, Tom D. The Bishop's Boys. New York: W. W. Norton, 1989. ---. First Flight: The Wright Brothers and the Invention of the Airplane. Washington, D.C.: National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, 2002. --- and Peter L. Jakab. The Wright Brothers and the Invention...
  • Web Page
    Rights and Access The Wilbur and Orville Wright Papers in the Library of Congress's Manuscript Division consist of personal papers and other manuscript materials. The majority of the collection was given to the Library by the executors of Orville Wright's estate in 1949; additional items were acquired through purchase and gift between 1949 and 1999. Rights to Orville and Wilbur Wrights' unpublished writings in this collection have...
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    Aviation Colleagues Letter, Charles S. Rolls to Wilbur Wright, February 20, 1910 Less than five months before his death in a French-built Wright machine, Charles Stewart Rolls, the British founder of the Rolls-Royce Motor Company, wrote to Wilbur Wright complaining about the quality of the Wright flyer that he had purchased in Europe. Unlike the sturdy machines built in Dayton, these license-built machines were often "unsafe...
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    Early Business Ventures West Side Newspaper, May 11, 1889 Printing was one of Orville's hobbies as a youngster and the first publication that he and his friend, Ed Sines, produced was a brief newspaper for their eighth-grade schoolmates. By the time that he was sixteen, Orville had worked summers in a print shop, learned the printing business from the ground up, and designed and built his own...
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    First Flight Photograph of First Flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, 10:35 AM, December 17, 1903 One of the most famous photographs of all time, this image was made from one of the five-by-seven- inch glass-plate negatives deposited in the Library of Congress in 1949. The camera had been set on a tripod by Orville, who instructed John T. Daniels of the Kill Devil Hill Lifesaving...
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    Huffman Prairie Photograph of Wright 1904 Machine at Huffman Prairie, Dayton, Ohio, June or July 1904 The Wrights began to build a new machine in January 1904 and by early summer they were ready to try it out. Although it looked similar to their 1903 original, it was sturdier, heavier, and had an entirely new engine. This photo shows the 1904 model from the rear, with...
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    Kitty Hawk Letter from J. J. Dosher, Weather Bureau, to Wilbur Wright, August 16, 1900 Having already corresponded with Octave Chanute, Wilbur and Orville realized the importance of a safe, sandy, test site and steady winds to their gliding plans. Chanute suggested several appropriate locations, from California to the southeast coast, and Wilbur used U.S. Weather Bureau tables to compare the average wind velocities of these...
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    Starting the Business Page from Patent of O. & W. Wright Flying Machine, May 22, 1906 It took the Wrights more than three years to obtain the patent that they originally sought in 1903, but when it was finally granted, it was exactly what they wanted. Following the solid advice of their experienced patent attorney, Henry A. Toulmin of Springfield, Ohio, the Wrights decided to patent not...
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    The Brothers' Boyhood Postcard from Orville Wright to Milton Wright, 1881 It is no coincidence that the earliest communication found from either Wilbur or Orville is this postcard, written by nine-year-old Orville to his father, in which he demonstrates a typical Wright Brothers trait–natural curiosity followed by an experiment. Bishop Wright made sure that his children knew how to write letters in clear language at an early...
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    The Flying Machine in Exile Letter, Maurice John Bernard Davy to Orville Wright, April 1, 1941 During World War II, while the German air force bombed London, M. J. B. Davy, director of the Science Museum in London, wrote to Orville to assure him that the 1903 machine was safe. The historic plane had been on display in England for thirteen years and Davy felt the need to explain...
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    The Wrights Go Public Ticket for Admittance to Champ de Tir d'Auvours, 1908 As Orville was about to make his successful demonstration flights for the U.S. Army at Fort Meyer, Virginia, Wilbur was in France showing Europe and the world to what degree he and his brother had mastered the problem of flight. For four months beginning in August, Wilbur flew at the large artillery field seven miles...
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    Photography and the Wright Brothers Among the materials acquired by the Library of Congress in 1949 from the estate of Orville Wright were 303 negative photographic plates. Nearly all these glass plate negatives were taken and developed by the Wrights themselves between 1898 and 1911. The images are as important as the Wrights' diaries, notebooks, and letters to knowledge and understanding of the brothers' historic accomplishments. Rarely in the...
    • Date: 1881
  • Article
    "The Belief that Flight is Possible to Man" On May 13, 1900, Wilbur Wright wrote one of the most remarkable letters in the history of science. In his letter to Octave Chanute, a wealthy businessman and successful engineer, Wilbur seems not at all hindered by the fact that an essentially unknown person from Ohio is addressing an aeronautical authority with a worldwide reputation. Nothing about Wilbur's letter is ordinary or predictable and...
    • Date: 1900
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    1867 to 1889 April 16, 1867 Wilbur Wright born to Reverend Milton Wright and Susan Catherine Koerner Wright near Milville, Indiana. He is their third child; his older siblings are Reuchlin (b. 1861) and Lorin (b. 1862).
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    1890 to 1900 April 30, 1890 Orville and Wilbur turn West Side News into an evening newspaper, The Evening Item, although publication ceases in August.
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    1901 to 1910 June 26, 1901 Octave Chanute meets the Wrights for the first time in Dayton.
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    1911 to 1929 March 12, 1911 Wilbur leaves for Europe to testify in a French Wright patent suit in Paris and to train pilots in Germany.
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    1932 to 1948 November 19, 1932 Orville attends dedication of Kill Devil Hill National Memorial honoring the Wright brothers in Kitty Hawk.
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    Wright Family Tree Milton Wright (1828-1917) married Susan Catherine Koerner (1831-1889) Milton and Susan Wright's seven children:
    • Date: 1828
  • Manuscript/Mixed Material

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