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ECU seeks Wright bros. historical materials

(Mar. 26, 2002)   —   Joyner Library at East Carolina University is seeking original historical materials about the Wright brothers and their first airplane for use in a digital history exhibit about eastern North Carolina.
The library hopes to publish an exhibit on the Internet about the history of the Wright brothers in North Carolina in time for the centennial celebration on December 17, 2003.
Wilbur and Orville Wright’s first manned airplane flight took place at Kitty Hawk on December 17, 1903. This event launched significant changes in technology and culture around the world.
Dr. Jonathon Dembo, the head of the library's Special Collections Department said "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diaries, reports, speeches, oral histories, financial and legal records relating to the Wright Brothers work, and other unpublished and published materials," he said.
Joyner Library, with over one million volumes, is eastern North Carolina’s premier research library. To date, the library has published four "Eastern North Carolina Digital History Exhibits" on the Internet that provide glimpses of life in eastern North Carolina in the 18th to 20th centuries. These exhibits can be seen at 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 is supporting 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" are included 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.
Materials collected for the Wright brothers exhibit 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 Special Collections area 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 first powered flight is probably the most important event ever to occur in North Carolina," said Dembo.
"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," he said.
"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," Dembo said.
Dembo can be reached at the J. Y. Joyner Library's Special Collections Department, 252-328-2661. The e-mail address is