Joyner Library at East Carolina University (ECU) is seeking original historical materials about the Wright brothers’ work in North Carolina. The library would like to use such materials in a digital history exhibit on the Wright brothers and publish the digitized materials as a part of the Eastern North Carolina Digital History Exhibits.

Wilbur and Orville Wright’s, first manned airplane flight took place at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina on December 17, 1903. This event launched significant changes in technology and culture around the world. ECU’s Joyner Library plans to publish a digital history exhibit on the history of the Wright brothers in North Carolina, by the centennial date of this flight, December 17, 2003.

Joyner Library, with over one million volumes, is eastern North Carolina’s premier research library. To date, the library has published four exhibits on the Internet that provide glimpses of life in eastern North Carolina in the 18th to 20th centuries. The library considers the Wright brothers' work in North Carolina to be one of the most significant events in regional history that should be documented in this set of exhibits.

The ECU College of Arts and Sciences has demonstrated support for scholarship in this subject by establishing a Wilbur and Orville Wright Distinguished Visiting Professorship in History. The ECU College of Arts and Sciences will co-sponsor this digital history exhibit on the Wright brothers.

The Eastern North Carolina Digital History Exhibits participate in the N.C. Exploring Cultural Heritage Online website ( of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources. The purpose of the website is to make historical information from the state's museums, library archives and historical societies readily available to the public over the Internet.

Currently, Joyner library is seeking to acquire original historical materials for this new digital exhibit. New materials will be housed in the library’s Special Collections Department, a major historical research facility that acquires, preserves, and makes available for research a wide variety of archival, manuscript, and published materials. A major focus of the Department is the history of eastern North Carolina. The Department also operates a state of the art document conservation lab that de-acidifies, repairs and encapsulates fragile and deteriorating documents to assure their long-term safety and accessibility.

The library asks anyone knowing the location of materials about the Wright brothers’ activities in North Carolina to contact Dr. Jonathon Dembo, the Head of the Special Collections Department at Joyner Library, telephone 252-328-2661, email Appropriate materials include any items that reflect the Wright brothers’ work in North Carolina, or provide a context for that work. Items of interest include documents mentioning the Wright brothers’ work, such as photographs, news clippings, letters, diaries, reports, speeches, oral histories, financial and legal records relating to the Wright Brothers work, and other unpublished and published materials.

The first powered flight is probably the most important event ever to occur in North Carolina. People around the world grow up hearing about the Wright brothers’ endeavors and interest in the event remains strong. Some North Carolinians probably have historical materials, in their attics or in shoeboxes, that will help the world to know more about what the Wright brothers actually did on the Outer Banks, and how the local communities and the state reacted to this phenomenon. Placing these materials in a professional repository will make these documents a part of our public history, with the originals available to researchers, and selected materials digitized and published on the Web.

Press Contact: Diana Williams,
ECU Joyner Library,
252-328-2771 or

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