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:
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.
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:
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.
Related Collections in NASM's Holdings:
NOTES FOR STAFF
NameMaterialAccession NumberLawrence M. AllisonBiographical material1988-0021Charles A. ArensScrapbooksXXXX-0016Ralph S. BarnabyPersonal Papers1987-0048Carl T. Batts Collection1992-0048George W. BeattyCollection 1989-0013/1991-0069Lucielle A. Belmont Exhibition AdvertisementXXXX-0078Edward R. BolandMemorabiliaXXXX-0063Frank T. CoffynScrapbookXXXX-0065Harry D. CoplandSlide CollectionXXXX-0439H. Paul CulverScrapbookXXXX-0401H.P. Culver Airmail Scrapbook & InvoicesXXXX-0401Glenn CurtissScrapbookXXXX-0320Glenn H. CurtissCollectionXXXX-0053Charles H. DayScrapbookXXXX-0028Curtiss LaQ. DayScrapbookXXXX-0292William Carl Diehl CollectionXXXX-0469Early Aviation ('06-'10)ScrapbooksXXXX-0404Early Aviation (ca. '10)ScrapbooksXXXX-0299Early AviationPhotograph ScrapbookXXXX-0322Early AviationPhotograph ScrapbookXXXX-0048Early AviationScrapbookXXXX-0291"Early Birds"Reunion AutographsXXXX-0124Luis DeFlorezScrapbook/MemorabiliaXXXX-0069Paul E. GarberScrapbookXXXX-0246Thomas Foster Hamilton Collection1989-0129Edward HoltermanScrapbookXXXX-0223S. Jerwan/MoisantScrapbookXXXX-0231Walter E. JohnsonScrapbook1987-0068Ernest Jones AeronauticalCollectionXXXX-0096Roy KnabenshueAutobiography ManuscriptXXXX-0136Frank P. LahmCollection1984-0044Lahm Airport Memorial& DedicationScrapbook S-118XXXX-0268R.F. MacFieScrapbookXXXX-0296Glenn L. MartinScrapbookXXXX-0018James V. MartinScrapbookXXXX-0236Thomas deWitt MillingPersonal PapersXXXX-0133Harold E. Morehouse "Flying Pioneers" BiographiesXXXX-0450George A. PageCollectionXXXX-0126Evan J. Parker ScrapbookXXXX-0348Fred ParkerScrapbookXXXX-0224Edwin C. ParsonsScrapbookXXXX-0308Roland RohlfsScrapbookXXXX-0278Martin F. Scanlon ScrapbooksXXXX-0037Blanche Stuart ScottMemorabiliaXXXX-0062William H. Sheahan Early Aviation PhotographsXXXX-0523Thomas SteptoeScrapbookXXXX-0229Paul R. StocktonWorld War I Aviation ScrapbookXXXX-0283Paul StudenskiCollection1989-0012Henry ToncrayScrapbook1989-0012John H. TowersWorld War I Aviation ScrapbookXXXX-0033Victor VernonScrapbookXXXX-0221John B.R. VerplanckScrapbookXXXX-0012Clifford L. Webster CollectionXXXX-0559Elling D. Weeks (E.D. "Hud" Weeks)Early Aviation Collection1984-0004, 1984-0006Bernard L. Whelan Photographs1992-0055Orville & Wilbur WrightMemorabiliaXXXX-0079
Early Birds of Aviation, Inc., gift, 1960s-1980s, XXXX-0566, NASM