For lovers of twentieth-century history in general and for aviation enthusiasts specifically, the Prints & Photographs Division’s collection of Wright Brothers Negatives provides a fascinating body of evidence for early developments in aviation technology. All of the images, ranging in date from 1897 to 1928, are digitized and readily available for viewing from anywhere.
It will come as no surprise that among the hundreds of images in the collection of Wright Brothers Negatives, many document Orville and Wilbur Wright’s famous early experiments with flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. A number of photos in the collection document successes:
Others show the remains of flights that did not appear to end so happily. Damage to the right side of the glass negative seems to lend more chaos to this view:
Some photographs provide a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the brothers putting their mechanical skills to work, as in this image of Wilbur and Orville assembling a plane under a shelter on the sand:
In addition to photographs that relate directly to the brothers’ pioneering efforts to produce a successful flying machine, the collection includes many images that shed light on other aspects of their lives. Here is a photo showing Orville Wright and friend Edwin H. Sines working on bicycle frames in a Dayton, Ohio workshop – a reflection of their preexisting mechanical pursuits:
Among the other images that relate to life back home in Dayton are several that show Scipio, Orville’s pet Saint Bernard:
Some images help give a sense of what life was like for the Wright brothers in North Carolina. Here is a view of the kitchen used at the Kitty Hawk outpost:
Other images give a sense of the landscape that set the scene for their aeronautical experiments:
We encourage you to use the links below to dive deeper into the collections. I hope you enjoy your exploration as much as I did!
- Browse all of the images from the Wright Brothers Negatives.
- Explore the Wilbur and Orville Wright Papers in the collections of the Library of Congress Manuscript Division.
- Read other Picture This blog posts related to flight: