The Wilbur and Orville Wright Papers
Skyline Image
  • 1867-1889
  • * 1890-1900
  • 1901-1910
  • 1911-1929
  • 1932-1948
  • image, caption following
    West Side News, 23 March 1889. Subject File: Printing and Publishing Business --West Side News, 1889. Wilbur and Orville
    Wright Papers,
    Manuscript Division,
    Library of Congress.

    image, caption following
    [Wright Cycle Company receipt, undated]. Subject File: Business Journals and Ledgers, 1901-1902.
    Wilbur and Orville
    Wright Papers,
    Manuscript Division,
    Library of Congress.

    image, caption following
    [Orville Wright and
    Edwin H. Sines,

    neighbor and boyhood
    friend, filing frames in the
    back of the Wright bicycle
    shop]. [1897]. Glass
    negatives from the Papers of
    Wilbur and Orville Wright,
    Prints and Photographs Division,
    Library of Congress.

    image, caption following
    [Copy of letter, Wilbur Wright to The Smithsonian Institution, 30 May 1899]. General Correspondence: Smithsonian Institution, 1899-1909. Wilbur and Orville Wright Papers,
    Manuscript Division,
    Library of Congress.
    April 30

    Orville and Wilbur turn West Side News into an evening newspaper, The Evening Item, although publication ceases in August.

    Orville begins final year of high school as a special student in Latin. Leaves school before graduation.

    December 13
    Paul Laurence Dunbar starts the Tatler, printed by his classmate, Orville Wright.


    Orville and Wilbur open a bicycle shop, the Wright Cycle Company. They remain in the bicycle manufacturing and repair business until 1907. The business gives them the funds necessary to carry out their early aeronautical experiments.
    Wilbur and Orville attend World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago where the aeronautical exhibit draws their interest.
    October 20

    Wilbur and Orville start a weekly magazine, Snap Shots.
    Orville invents a calculating machine that multiplies and adds.
    Wright brothers begin to manufacture their own brand of bicycles-- first the Van Cleve and the "Wright Special," and later the less expensive St. Clair.

    Orville seriously ill with typhoid fever.

    August 10
    Otto Lilienthal, German engineer and aeronautical pioneer, dies from injuries suffered in a crash while testing his latest single-surface glider. The tragedy renews the Wright brothers' interest in Lilienthal and the problem of human flight.

    While running their bicycle business, Wilbur and Orville study the problems of mechanical and human flight. After reading extensively and studying bird flight and Lilienthal's work, the brothers are convinced that human flight is possible and decide to conduct some experiments of their own.
    May 30

    Wilbur writes Smithsonian Institution inquiring about publications on aeronautical subjects.

    Brothers build and Wilbur flies a biplane kite in order to test the "wing-warping" method of controlling a flying machine. This experiment encourages the Wrights to proceed with constructing a flying machine with a pilot.

    November 27
    Brothers write the U.S. Weather Bureau for information on an appropriate place to conduct flying experiments.

    May 13

    Wilbur writes to Octave Chanute, a civil engineer and aeronautical pioneer. Correspondence begins an important friendship lasting until Chanute's death in 1910.

    September 6
    Wilbur leaves for Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Orville arrives later and they stay with William J. Tate until their camp is ready in early October.

    Wrights begin their experiments, flying their glider as a kite and as a man-carrying glider. About a dozen free flights are made although total time in the air is only about two minutes. They stay until October 23.

  • 1867-1889
  • * 1890-1900
  • 1901-1910
  • 1911-1929
  • 1932-1948

  • The Wilbur and Orville Wright Papers