National Air and Space Museum Archives

Early Birds of Aviation, Inc. Collection


Collection ID:
Early Birds of Aviation (Organization).
1928-circa 1980s
Physical Description:
22.05 Cubic feet
49 Boxes
This collection consists of the records and historical materials of the Early Bird organization, including correspondence; photographs; the organization's newsletter, Chirp; financial records; reunion memorabilia; biographical material of members; and membership lists. This material was donated to the Museum after the National Air Museum was designated as the official repository for Early Bird records.

Scope and Contents

Scope and Contents
The Early Birds of Aviation, Inc. Collection (acc. XXXX-0566) contains approximately 18 cubic feet of material relating to this group of early pilots. The material includes correspondence, financial records, periodicals, photographic material, published materials and various other media containing information on the organization and its individual members.
The National Air and Space Museum (NASM) was designated by the Early Birds as the official repository for the organization in 1960 and the Museum has obtained materials at different times from various members. Much of the material in the collection is comprised of the records and memorabilia of the organization's officers, including Paul Garber, past President as well as Archivist/Historian for the group. In addition to the records contained in this collection, members have donated to NASM aircraft, plaques and other items of historical interest.
Some preliminary processing work had been done on this collection by 1996, but much of the material remained without obvious order. Original order, when identified, has been maintained.
Material was added from the Museum's Archives' Technical Files on organizations but researchers seeking information on individual members may wish to cross-reference the biographical section of the Technical Files located in NASM's Archives downtown which includes folders for most of the Early Birds.
Some members of the Early Birds remained quite active with the organization until the late 1980s. The material in the collection therefore spans over eighty years.

Arrangement note

Arrangement note
Container List: Series I: Core organizational documents; Series II: Organizational correspondence and records; Series III: Publications; Series IV: Events; Series V: Individual members; Series VI: Miscellaneous; Series VII: Scrapbooks
Appendices. Appendix I: Chronological List of Officers Appendix II: Membership list Related collections in NASM's holdings

Biographical / Historical

Biographical / Historical
Founded after the National Air Races of 1928, the Early Birds (later to be known as the Early Birds of Aviation, Inc.) consisted of pioneer aviators banded together for the purposes of preserving aviation history, advancing interest in aeronautics and the enjoyment of good fellowship. Membership in the group necessitated documentary evidence of solo flight in heavier- or lighter-than-air craft before December 17, 1916. This date was of some significance to the Early Birds, being the thirteenth anniversary (that number being considered propitious) of the first sustained, powered, heavier-than-air flight by the Wrights at Kitty Hawk. Those interested in flying in this pre-World War I period were often required to build their own craft and instruct themselves in the necessary skills to pilot it and members took great pride in this evidence of initiative. (For nationals of countries other than the United States which were engaged in the War the conditional date was set at August 4, 1914.)
As an organization, the Early Birds was responsible for the preservation of aircraft and records, the erection of numerous markers and monuments and the education of the public on the importance of aviation. With members including Glenn Curtiss, Blanche Stuart Scott, Matilde Moisant, Grover Loening, Roy Knabenshue, Sir Thomas Sopwith, Katherine Stinson, Marjorie Stinson, Earle Ovington, Matty Laird, Anthony Fokker and Giuseppe Bellanca, their contributions as individuals were incalculable.
Numbering nearly 600 members at its peak, the Early Birds was conceived of as a "last man's club" whose existence would cease with the passing of its last surviving member.


Kate Igoe
Immediate Source of Acquisition note
Early Birds of Aviation, Inc., gift, 1960s-1980s, XXXX-0566, NASM

Using the Collection

Conditions Governing Access note
No restrictions on access

Related Collections in NASM's Holdings
NameMaterialAccession Number
Lawrence M. AllisonBiographical material1988-0021
Charles A. ArensScrapbooksXXXX-0016
Ralph S. BarnabyPersonal Papers1987-0048
Carl T. Batts Collection1992-0048
George W. BeattyCollection 1989-0013/1991-0069
Lucielle A. Belmont Exhibition AdvertisementXXXX-0078
Edward R. BolandMemorabiliaXXXX-0063
Frank T. CoffynScrapbookXXXX-0065
Harry D. CoplandSlide CollectionXXXX-0439
H. Paul CulverScrapbookXXXX-0401
H.P. Culver Airmail Scrapbook & InvoicesXXXX-0401
Glenn CurtissScrapbookXXXX-0320
Glenn H. CurtissCollectionXXXX-0053
Charles H. DayScrapbookXXXX-0028
Curtiss LaQ. DayScrapbookXXXX-0292
William Carl Diehl CollectionXXXX-0469
Early Aviation ('06-'10)ScrapbooksXXXX-0404
Early Aviation (ca. '10)ScrapbooksXXXX-0299
Early AviationPhotograph ScrapbookXXXX-0322
Early AviationPhotograph ScrapbookXXXX-0048
Early AviationScrapbookXXXX-0291
"Early Birds"Reunion AutographsXXXX-0124
Luis DeFlorezScrapbook/MemorabiliaXXXX-0069
Paul E. GarberScrapbookXXXX-0246
Thomas Foster Hamilton Collection1989-0129
Edward HoltermanScrapbookXXXX-0223
S. Jerwan/MoisantScrapbookXXXX-0231
Walter E. JohnsonScrapbook1987-0068
Ernest Jones AeronauticalCollectionXXXX-0096
Roy KnabenshueAutobiography ManuscriptXXXX-0136
Frank P. LahmCollection1984-0044
Lahm Airport Memorial& DedicationScrapbook S-118XXXX-0268
R.F. MacFieScrapbookXXXX-0296
Glenn L. MartinScrapbookXXXX-0018
James V. MartinScrapbookXXXX-0236
Thomas deWitt MillingPersonal PapersXXXX-0133
Harold E. Morehouse "Flying Pioneers" BiographiesXXXX-0450
George A. PageCollectionXXXX-0126
Evan J. Parker ScrapbookXXXX-0348
Fred ParkerScrapbookXXXX-0224
Edwin C. ParsonsScrapbookXXXX-0308
Roland RohlfsScrapbookXXXX-0278
Martin F. Scanlon ScrapbooksXXXX-0037
Blanche Stuart ScottMemorabiliaXXXX-0062
William H. Sheahan Early Aviation PhotographsXXXX-0523
Thomas SteptoeScrapbookXXXX-0229
Paul R. StocktonWorld War I Aviation ScrapbookXXXX-0283
Paul StudenskiCollection1989-0012
Henry ToncrayScrapbook1989-0012
John H. TowersWorld War I Aviation ScrapbookXXXX-0033
Victor VernonScrapbookXXXX-0221
John B.R. VerplanckScrapbookXXXX-0012
Clifford L. Webster CollectionXXXX-0559
Elling D. Weeks (E.D. "Hud" Weeks)Early Aviation Collection1984-0004, 1984-0006
Bernard L. Whelan Photographs1992-0055
Orville & Wilbur WrightMemorabiliaXXXX-0079

More Information


Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Photographs Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Periodicals Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Aeronautics -- 1903-1916 Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Aeronautics -- Societies, etc. Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Publications Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Financial records Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Correspondence Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Aeronautics Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Early Birds of Aviation (Organization). Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

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