Seeking Wright Factory Families

Wright State University Libraries Special Collections & Archives and the National Aviation Heritage Alliance (NAHA) are currently undertaking a collaborative project to gather the stories of men and women who worked at the original Wright Company factory. These employees were the first Americans hired and trained for airplane production, and their stories represent an important piece of aviation history that should be preserved.

Wright Company Factory, 1911 (photo # ms1_21_3_20a)

Wright Company Factory, 1911 (photo # ms1_21_3_20a)

The original Wright Company factory, located in West Dayton, was the first American factory built specifically for the purpose of producing airplanes. The buildings were constructed in 1910 and 1911 and produced airplanes until 1916. When Orville Wright sold the Wright Company in 1915, the buildings became part of the Dayton-Wright Airplane Company. The factory site later became part of General Motors’ Inland Manufacturing Division and then subsequently was part of Delco and eventually Delphi. The National Park Service is currently working to acquire the original Wright factory site.

The stories gathered by the Wright Factory Families Project will be a valuable resource to the National Park Service when it restores the original Wright factory buildings as part of the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park.

In addition to gathering the stories of original Wright Company factory workers, we are also interested in the stories of those who worked in the buildings after they became part of Dayton-Wright Airplane Company and later Inland Manufacturing.

One of the stories uncovered so far by the Wright Factory Families Project is that of Ida Holdgreve (1881-1977), who responded to a newspaper ad for a seamstress in 1910 and subsequently became one of the first women in the world to work in the aircraft industry. She sewed for the Wright Company from 1910 until at least 1915.

Ida Holdgreve sewing at the Wright Factory, 1911 (photo # ms1_21_3_10)

Ida Holdgreve sewing at the Wright Factory, 1911 (photo # ms1_21_3_10)

The following press releases and blog posts provide additional details about the Wright Factory Families Project and about Ida Holdgreve:

For more information about how to participate in the Wright Factory Families Project, please contact WSU Special Collections & Archives at or call (937) 775-2092 or NAHA at or call (937) 443-0165.

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WSU Alumni Newsletters Now Online

We are pleased to announce that you can now view the Wright State University Libraries Special Collections & Archives’ collection of alumni newsletter publications from 1969-2014 online in CORE Scholar.

The collection presently includes nearly 200 total issues of alumni publications, including The Wright Stater (1966-1990), AlumNews (1977-2008), Community (1996-2011), and Wright State University Magazine (2011-Present).

All available historical issues of the publications are currently online. New issues of Wright State University Magazine will be added as they are published. The issues are full-text searchable.

The Wright Stater, Summer 1984

The Wright Stater, Summer 1984 (click to view in CORE Scholar)

AlumNews, November/December 1987

AlumNews, November/December 1987 (click to view in CORE Scholar)

This digital project was a collaborative effort between the Special Collections & Archives, the Office of Alumni Relations, and the University Libraries’ Digital Services Department, which provided the digitization, metadata encoding, and uploading of this digital collection to CORE Scholar.

Please visit the University Archives’ CORE Scholar page to browse additional online resources, including all historical course catalogs and over 1,000 issues of The Guardian student newspaper (an ongoing long-term digital project).

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Archives News – August 2014

Another summer just came to a close in the Archives, but it was not without its many activities, as always…

On August 2, we gave a presentation on the Wright Brothers and gave a tour of original Wright Brothers materials to attendees of the WSU Alumni College.

August 4 was a very busy day. We had a group of visitors from a local genealogical society. We hosted a presentation and tour of resources for a group of local 4th grade teachers. And we gave an overview of the Archives to a group of international students who were touring campus. Later that evening, at the Huffman Prairie Aviation Society meeting, Don Willis presented “To The Moon and Back.”

Archivist Gino Pasi sharing some of our resources with a group of school teachers, Aug. 4.

Archivist Gino Pasi sharing some of our resources with a group of school teachers, Aug. 4.

On August 5, one of our digital projects — the 91st Observation Squadron World War I Photographs — was completed and made available online in CORE Scholar. (More info & photos concerning this project can be found in our original announcement.)

In mid-August, two of our archivists, Toni Vanden Bos and Lisa Rickey, traveled to Washington, DC, for training in the preservation of electronic records, by the Society of American Archivists. They documented part of their trip with the aid of a miniature cut-out of Wilbur and Orville Wright. One of the photos is below; you can see more on Twitter under hashtag #WilOrvDC. Lisa stayed in DC to attend the annual SAA conference as well (#saa14).

Orville and Wilbur flying high en route to Washington, DC, Aug 9.

Orville and Wilbur flying high en route to Washington, DC, Aug 9.

Toni Vanden Bos and Lisa Rickey at the Washington Monument, Aug. 9

Toni Vanden Bos and Lisa Rickey at the Washington Monument, Aug. 9.

On August 13, the Archives served as a host site for the Certified Archivist examination given by the Academy of Certified Archivists. Six archivists sat for the examination, and we hope they all receive good news on their results!

On August 19, we met with new faculty members at the New Faculty Orientation Fair under the Dunbar Library overhang. We shared information about the Archives’ holdings and how the Archives can support teaching and learning.

Archivist Gino Pasi at the New Faculty Orientation Fair, Aug 19.

Archivist Gino Pasi at the New Faculty Orientation Fair, Aug 19.

On August 24, we celebrated our 1-year “Twitterversary” — one whole year of sharing the Archives’ news, collections, & mission via Twitter as @WrightStArchive! On the day of our Twitterversary, we had 262 followers!


August 25 was the first day of Fall semester, and you know what that means: more hours that you can visit the Archives! We are now open on Wednesday evenings until 9:00 and Sundays from 1:00-5:00. (You can also check our hours for a particular day anytime on the online calendar.)

The start of Fall semester also brings us a new group of student workers. We were so pleased to welcome our new student workers: Fayelee Conley, Sara Fisher, Samantha Green, and Leigh McCormick; and to welcome back for another year Adam Becker and Nina Herzog. All of our student workers this year are graduate students in the WSU Public History program. We look forward to working with all of them this year!

The Archives coordinates the contents of the large exhibit cases throughout the Dunbar Library, and in August we assisted reference librarian Kathy Reynolds in the creation of a spectacular exhibit about this year’s WSU common text, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Kathy’s exhibit is engaging and eye-catching, and you should check it out next time you are on the second floor; it is just around the corner from the elevators:

We look forward to finding out what September and the rest of this academic year will hold for us!

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