National Air and Space Museum Archives

1906 Automobile and Aero Clubs of America Joint Show Photographs

Collection ID:
Beals, Jessie Tarbox
January 13-20, 1906
Physical Description:
0.5 Cubic feet
1 folder
19 gelatin silver print photographs
Sixteen photographs by Jesse Tarbox Beals of the aeronautical exhibits at the Automobile and Aero Clubs of America Joint Show held January 13-20, 1906, in the third-floor gymnasium of the 69th Regiment Armory, New York City.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
This collection consists of sixteen black and white photographs taken by photographer Jesse Tarbox Beals of the aeronautical exhibits at the Automobile and Aero Clubs of America Joint Show held January 13-20, 1906, in the third-floor gymnasium of the 69th Regiment Armory, New York City. Four duplicate prints are included in the collection for a total of 20 prints overall. The 13 mounted prints in the collection are embossed with Beals' name and studio address at the lower right corner; the unmounted prints have Beals' ink stamp on the reverse. All of the photographs were likely made during the day on Saturday, January 13, 1906, before the show opened to the public that evening. Some of the exhibits are seen in the midst of installation, notably the tetrahedral-cell kite designs of Alexander Graham Bell. In view 3, Bell and several of his associates (including Lewis Howard Latimer) can be seen posing with the kites for the camera; view 4 is a portrait of Bell alone.

The photographs are arranged as if the photographer is moving around the exhibit space in a clockwise direction, starting and ending at the entrance from the Armory's south staircase at the southeast corner of the room.

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
The Aero Club of America (ACA) was the United States' oldest national aviation organization and is the mother organization from which all U.S. air sports organizations either directly, or indirectly, evolved. Founded in 1905, the ACA underwent reorganization in 1922, when it became the National Aeronautic Association (NAA). The club was the focal point of organized aviation in the U.S., and its early members were some of the most influential leaders in American science and industry. The ACA served United States aviation in a variety of roles and fostered the development of all forms of flight. It was the ACA, not the federal government, that began the practice of regulating flight safety by issuing flying licenses based on a demonstrated ability to competently operate a vehicle of the air. The ACA was also the first body of aviation experts in the U.S. to publicly endorse the efforts of the Wright Brothers and the club was instrumental in persuading Congress to fund military aviation.
In January 1906, seeking a larger venue for their Sixth Annual show, the Automobile Club of America chose the newly completed Sixty-ninth Regiment Armory building at 68 Lexington Avenue, between East 25th and East 26th Streets in lower Manhattan, New York City, and invited the newly-founded Aero Club of America (ACA) to participate. Vistors to the show would have found the Armory's massive Drill Hall filled with automobile exhibits, with two full-sized ACA balloons and an airship hanging overhead. The main ACA exhibit was housed in the Armory's two-story high gymnasium on the third floor of the administration section of the building. Suspended overhead were kites, balloons, balloon baskets, gliders, airships (all but one displayed with deflated envelopes), and various gliding and powered model aircraft; at floor level were engines, additional balloon baskets and fittings, and tables displaying instruments, literature, and a U.S. Patent Office exhibit of flying machine models dating from 1878 to 1889. At the south end of the room, Israel Ludlow's massive towed-glider flying machine (a man-carrying kite design) was displayed standing on end, as it was too large to display in flying configuration. Other aircraft on display included the Langley Aerodrome Number 5 ("Langley 1897 Aerodrome"), the Langley Quarter-scale Aerodrome ("Langley 1903 Aerodrome"), the Lilienthal (Otto) 1893 Glider, Hargrave (Australia) 1888 Compressed-Air Ornithopter, Herring 1902 Gasoline Biplane Model, Herring-Arnot 1897 Glider, Chanute (Octave) 1896 Biplane Glider, Pichancourt Model Ornithopter (1879), Keil 1905 Ballo-plane, Dr. Julian P. Thomas' airship, Alberto Santos-Dumont's airship No. 9 airship "La Baladeuse" (1903), Thomas Baldwin's airship "California Arrow," kites and weather balloons from the Blue Hill Observatory in Massachusetts, and balloons from Carl E. Myers, Maurice Mallet, and A. Leo Stevens. Alexander Graham Bell displayed a number of tetrahedral-cell kite designs in varying sizes, ranging from a 4-cell design to the 1300-cell "Frost King" kite. The walls of the room were decorated with a large number of photographs, including over 120 enlargements provided by consulting electrical engineer and aeronautical enthusiast William J. Hammer (predominantly views taken by Hammer in Paris, France, during the balloon competitions which were part of the 1900 Exposition Universelle), photographs loaned by fellow ACA member George Grantham Bain, and photographs provided by exhibitors and other ACA members including Carl E. Myers and John Brisben Walker. The show officially opened to the public at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 13, 1906, although members of the Aero Club were allowed to enter earlier at 4:00 p.m. Additional photographs (and possibly other of the gymnasium exhibit items) were installed later that night after the show had opened. The show concluded with a banquet on the evening of Saturday, January 20, 1906.
Jesse Tarbox Beals (1870-1942) was one of the first female news photographers. In late 1902, Beals had been hired as a photographer by the editor of The Buffalo Inquirer and The Courier in Buffalo, New York; two years later, the papers sent her on assignment to St. Louis, Missouri, to photograph the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. Hard-working and tenacious, Beals was soon providing her photography of the Fair to other major publications including the New York Herald. In 1905, Beals moved to New York City, and opened a studio at 159 Sixth Avenue in Lower Manhattan.

Melissa A. N. Keiser
Immediate Source of Acquisition
A. Leo Stevens?, Gift, Unknown, NASM.XXXX.0902
Processing Information
Arranged, described, and encoded by Melissa A. N. Keiser, 2021.

Digital Content
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Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Use
Material is subject to Smithsonian Terms of Use. Should you wish to use NASM material in any medium, please submit an Application for Permission to Reproduce NASM Material, available at Permissions Requests
Conditions Governing Access
No restrictions on access.
Preferred Citation
1906 Automobile and Aero Clubs of America Joint Show Photographs, Acc. NASM.XXXX.0902, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.

Related Materials
Early Aeronautical Newsclippings (Alexander Graham Bell) Collection, Acc. NASM.XXXX.0086
, Series 3: Photographs, [Bell Photo Album], This photo album contains 22 Jessie Tarbox Beals photographs of the 1906 show: the 16 views seen in this collection (NASM.XXXX.0902), plus four additional views of the Aero Club exhibits in the Armory gymnasium, and two views of the Aero Club exhibits in the Armory's Drill Hall.
The surviving 24 x 36 inch photographic prints used in William J. Hammer's display on the walls of the Armory gymnasium are located in the
William J. Hammer Collection, Acc. NASM.XXXX.0074
, Series 2.7: Very Large Format Materials [39 x 50 x 2 inch large format drawer], Very Large Format Mounted Copy Prints (Photographs),
NASM Artifacts Displayed at the Show
Langley Aerodrome Number 5, A19050001000 ["Langley 1897 Aerodrome"].
Langley Quarter-scale Aerodrome, A19050003000 ["Langley 1903 Aerodrome"].
Lilienthal Glider, A19060001000.
From Santos-Dumont Airship No. 9: Clement V-2 Engine, A19080001000.

More Information
"Auto vs. Airship: Speed Merchants of Earth and Ether at Armory Show." New York Tribune, January 13, 1906, 10.
"BALLOONS THE FEATURE OF ARMORY AUTO SHOW; Aero Club's Exhibit Novel and Interesting to Big Crowd. AIRSHIPS HANG FROM ROOF New Quarters of Sixty-ninth Regiment Filled with Motor Cars -- Handsome Decorations." New York Times, January 14, 1906, 10.
"Auto Club Show Open: Attractive Display in New New York Armory." Washington Post, January 14, 1906, S1.
"The Aero Club of American's Exhibit of Aeronautical Apparatus." Scientific American, Vol. XCIV, No. 4, January 27, 1906, 93-94.
Myers, Carl E. "A Visit to the First Show of the Aero Club of America." Scientific American Supplement No. 1572, February 17, 1906, 25193-25194; via Library of Congress Manuscripts Division, Wilbur Wright and Orville Wright papers, 1809-1979, Series: Scrapbooks, Scrapbooks; January 1902-December 1908: page 0100, " A Visit to the First Show of the Aero Club of America [Carl E. Myers, Scientific American Supplement No. 1572, 17 February 1906]."
Brannan, Beverly W. "Jessie Tarbox Beals (1870-1942): Biographical Essay." Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, January 2011.

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Aeronautics Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Aeronautics -- Exhibitions Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Airships -- 1900-1910 Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Balloons -- Exhibitions Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Kites Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Langley Aerodrome No 5 (1895-96) Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Aero Club of America Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Bell, Alexander Graham, 1847-1922 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

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