Collection Highlights

  • 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 ...
  • 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 ...
  • 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 ...
  • 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 ...
  • 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 ...
  • 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 ...
  • 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 ...
  • 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 ...
  • 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 ...