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Seymour Dunham Collection

Identifier: MS-294

Scope and Content

The Seymour Dunham Collection is a collection of the personal correspondence of Mr. Dunham, aviation organizations to which he belonged, aircraft and missile research, work-related research from his time at Wright-Patterson AFB, and an extensive collection of articles, newspaper clippings and photographs concerning the Wright Brothers and other aspects of aviation history. The researcher should be aware that much of the information contained in the collection pertains to aircraft manufactured and produced from 1902-1950.

Series I contains the correspondence to and from Mr. Dunham. Subseries IA contains Mr. Dunham's letters from Ernest L. Jones, a friend and colleague, as well as copies of letters he wrote to Jones. These letters span the period 1943 until Jones' death in 1954. Subseries B is a collection of personal letters written to and by Mr. Dunham from various colleagues and friends. Subseries C contains Mr. Dunham's correspondence with many aviation and historical associations in his attempt to conduct his research.

Series II contains material related to aviation organizations. Subseries IIA is a collection of material from all of the various aviation and historical associations in the Dayton and Miami Valley area to which Mr. Dunham belonged. Subseries IIB contains all of the press, promotions, and organizational boards involved in the founding of the Air Force Museum on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. There are postcards, artist's conceptual drawings, and articles included in this box. Subseries IIC holds correspondence and newsletters from national aviation organizations to which Mr. Dunham belonged.

Series III, Research on Aircraft and Missiles, contains four major subseries. Subseries IIIA contains magazine and newspaper clippings concerning various aircraft and aircraft parts manufacturers. Most of the clippings concern aircraft manufactured between 1910 and 1945. Less than ten per cent of the files contain information on aircraft manufactured after 1945. The latest aircraft information concerns aircraft manufactured in the 1980s. There are extensive files on Lockheed aircraft produced since the 1960s including the SR-71 and the U-2. There is also a large file on vertical takeoff aircraft. Subseries IIIB contains miscellaneous aircraft information and statistics, a small amount of missile information, and information on model airplanes and trains. The subseries also contains a file of patterns for model airplanes. Subseries IIIC contains aircraft drawings, mostly three-view drawings, and aircraft assembly plans. This series is located in oversize drawers 33 and 35. Of particular note is a substantial set of three view drawings made by Mr. Dunham of aircraft manufactured between 1910 and 1930. There is also a complete set of plans drawn by Mr. Dunham of the Wright 1902 Glider. Subseries IIID contains over 1300 aircraft photographs - mostly official War Department or manufacturer photographs. The subseries is arranged according to type of aircraft - bomber, attack, fighter, etc. The number in parentheses following the aircraft name is the number of photographs of that aircraft. Most of the aircraft are identified with many providing multiple views of the same aircraft: front, side, and rear. Approximately 90 percent of the photographs are of aircraft built between 1910 and 1950. Of particular interest is the significant number of photographs concerning vertical take-off aircraft and the Northrop "Flying Wing." There is also a section containing photographs of model airplanes. Located in Oversize Drawer 34 is a number of reproductions of paintings of aircraft in flight and aerial photographs of Wright Field in 1945 and 1946, as well as several maps of Wright Field in 1945 and 1952.

Series IV, Aviation History, contains subseries. Subseries IVA consists of various articles, pamphlets, and personal notes on the development of aviation from 1895-1986. Subseries IVB, Aviation Pioneers, contains articles and clippings about numerous individuals significant in the field of aviation. Subseries IVC, Aviation Places, contains articles, clippings and photos of various places related to aviation, including Wright-Patterson AFB (Wright Field, McCook Field, and Patterson Field). Subseries IVD, Aviation Events, contains articles, clippings, and photos related to aviation events. Subseries IVE, Aviation History Chronology, consists of a file box Mr. Dunham created with index cards of aviation history. Subseries IVF, Aviation Bibliography, consists of index cards with bibliographical sources relating to aviation history.

Series V, Aeronautical Research, includes material about aeronautical research. Box 24 contains various airplane histories and inventories, Mr. Dunham's personal aircraft design notes, the article he helped write with Robert V. Guelich, and numerous articles on aeronautics. Box 25 contains Technical Orders, Military Specifications, and other information about aircraft markings and paint.

Series VI, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Work Papers, Box 26, contains papers from his time while working in the Design Lab (1946-1955) and the Systems Engineering Directorate (1965-1967) as well as other miscellaneous personal and office morale papers (1935-1966), Personnel Rosters, and Organizational Charts.

Series VII contains material about the Wright Brothers. Subseries VIIA contains general research about the Wright Brothers including excerpts from books, magazines, and newspapers. The subseries is arranged by ten-year periods. There is also a section containing the personal research notes of Mr. Dunham. Subseries VIIB contains specific topics on the Wright Brothers including controversies about the first Wright airplane, the first in flight controversy, and the Wilbur Wright Millville issue. There is also material concerning museums, memorials, and the Orville Wright home-Hawthorn House. Finally, this subseries contains information, mostly newspaper clippings, on people who knew the Wright Brothers and relatives. The subseries concludes with material pertaining to the anniversary of powered flight celebrations beginning with the 20th anniversary and ending with the 90th anniversary. Subseries VIIC contains approximately 1,015 photographs and negatives of the Wright Brothers, their airplanes, and other Wright Brothers related topics. Thee is also a section pertaining to the Smithsonian dedication ceremony of the 1903 Wright Flyer in 1948. Included in this subseries is a slide presentation prepared by Mr. Dunham entitled "12 Seconds that Changed the World."


  • Creation: 1889-1993


Restrictions on Access

There are no restrictions on accessing materials in this collection.

Restrictions on Use

Copyright restrictions may apply. Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.

Biography of Seymour Dunham

Seymour W. Dunham, known to friends as "Skit", was born on December 23, 1910 in Dayton, Ohio. He worked at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base as an engineer until his retirement in 1973. As an aviation historian and Wright Brothers' biographer, Dunham collected and conducted research on airplane models, aeronautics, and technology, as well as information on the aviators, engineers, and mechanics. He was a member of several local and national aviation and historical organizations. Dunham also gave several presentations to local historical societies on the Wright Brothers or aviation history in general.


22 linear feet

Language of Materials



The Seymour Dunham Collection contains personal correspondence of Mr. Dunham, information on aviation organizations to which he belonged, aircraft and missile research, work-related research from his time at Wright-Patterson AFB, and an extensive collection of articles, newspaper clippings and photographs concerning the Wright Brothers and other aspects of aviation history.

Statement of Arrangement

The collection is arranged into seven series:

  1. SERIES I: Correspondence
  2. SERIES II: Aviation Organizations
  3. SERIES III: Research on Aircraft and Missiles
  4. SERIES IV: Aviation History
  5. SERIES V: Aeronautical Research
  6. SERIES VI: Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Work Papers
  7. SERIES VII: Wright Brothers Material and Research

Other Finding Aid

A complete box and folder inventory for this collection is available on the Special Collections and Archives web site at

Acquisition Information

The Seymour Dunham Collection was accessioned into Dunbar Library's Special Collections and Archives in January 1998. Mr. Seymour Dunham, a local aeronautical engineer and aircraft history enthusiast, donated the collection to the archives.

Guide to the Seymour Dunham Collection (MS-294)
Finding aid prepared by John Armstrong, Randy Bunn, Christine Crandall, and Lynn Simonelli, 2000
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Wright State University Libraries, Special Collections and Archives Repository

Special Collections and Archives
3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy
Dayton OH 45435-0001 USA