Library of Congress: Wright Brothers Online Collection
The Library of Congress is pleased to announce the release of the
online collection of the Wilbur and Orville Wright Papers available at
the American Memory Web site at the site below.
The online presentation of The Wilbur and Orville Wright Papers at the
Library of Congress, comprising about 10,121 library items or
approximately 49,084 digital images, documents the lives of Wilbur and
Orville Wright and highlights their pioneering work which led to them
making the world's first powered, controlled, and sustained flight.
Included in the collection are correspondence, diaries and notebooks,
scrapbooks, drawings, printed matter, and other documents, as well as
the Wrights' collection of glass-plate photographic negatives. The
Wright Brothers' letters to aviation pioneer and mentor Octave Chanute,
from the Octave Chanute Papers, were also selected for this online
collection. The Wright Papers span the years 1881 to 1952 but largely
cover 1900 to 1940.
This online presentation of the Wright Papers contains the most
significant and best portions of the original collection. The Wrights'
diaries and notebooks are among the most important of the papers because
they record many of their glides and powered flights at Kitty Hawk and
elsewhere, as well as their scientific experiments and data. Because
Wilbur and Orville corresponded extensively with their family,
especially their father, Bishop Milton Wright, and their sister,
Katharine, the Wright family correspondence is included. Also found in
the online collection are letters from many correspondents who are
significant in the field of aeronautics, including Octave Chanute,
Charles Lindbergh, and Amelia Earhart. Charts, drawings, scrapbooks,
printed matter, and other materials covering the Wrights' research,
work, and business pursuits were also were selected for digitization.
As noted, the Wrights' letters to Octave Chanute in the Chanute Papers
are also included in this online collection. Chanute, a civil engineer
and aviation pioneer, was the Wrights' mentor and friend. These letters
give a first-person account of their problems and progress in inventing
Among the Wright Papers acquired by the Library of Congress were 303
glass plate negatives, most taken by the Wright brothers themselves
between 1896 and 1911 to document successes and failures with their new
flying machines. The collection provides an excellent pictorial record
of the Wright brothers' laboratory, engines, kites, gliders, powered
machines, flights, and even their accidents. The collection also
contains individual portraits and group pictures of the Wright brothers
and their family and friends, as well as photos of their homes, other
buildings, towns, and landscapes.
The Wilbur and Orville Wright Papers and the Octave Chanute Papers are
housed in the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress. The glass
plate negatives are housed in the Prints and Photographs Division of the
American Memory is a gateway to rich primary source materials relating
to the history and culture of the United States. The site offers more
than 8 million digital items from more than 120 historical collections.
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