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William H. Chisam World War I Photographs

Identifier: MS-166

Scope and Contents

The William H. Chisam Photograph Collection depicts Chisam’s education at the Wright School of Aviation where he flew in both Dayton, Ohio and Augusta, Georgia. The photographs show Chisam flying various types of biplanes including the Wright Flyer Model B. There are multiple photos of Chisam in the air and in cockpits. There are also a few group shots and a couple photographs of a downtown scene, possibly in Dayton, Ohio.

Over half of the photographs document Chisam’s time in the No. 3 Royal Naval Air Squadron. These photographs picture different types of aircraft lined up and in the air. The most prevalent type of aircraft appearing in this collection were manufactured by Sopwith, which produced aeroplanes mainly for the British Royal Naval Air Service and the Royal Flying Corps during World War I. The popular Sopwith Camel is shown along with the Sopwith Pup, the Dolphin, and the 1 ½ Strutter.

A few group photographs of No. 3 Squadron are included in the collection. One photograph, number 43, lists the names of the individuals pictured in the group photo. Other photos mainly identify William Chisam and Ally Shaw. Near the end of the collection are photographs of pilots in the hospital and Chisam standing with support of a cane. There are also photographs of war damaged buildings in France.


  • Creation: 1915 - 1918


Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on accessing material in this collection.

Conditions Governing 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 Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright.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.

Biographical / Historical

Before becoming a pilot flying missions over France during WWI, Harry Chisam, born William Hargrove Chisam in 1894, emigrated from his native Cumberland to Canada at the age of 18 in 1912. He tried various jobs, becoming a farmer, then a fireman, and eventually a clerk to the magistrates in the Courts of Winnipeg and later in Edmonton, Alberta. But soon after the start of World War I, Chisam took a different path, and moved to America to learn to fly at the Wright School of Aviation in Dayton, Ohio and in Augusta, Georgia. After completing the requirements, Chisam joined the Royal Naval Air Service, and flew missions in France with the No. 3 Squadron. He downed seven aircraft while flying Sopwith Camels during his service with Naval 3. After the war, Chisam successfully worked in the oil industry, spending time in Mexico and Guatemala before moving back to the United Kingdom.


0.5 linear feet (75 photographs)

Language of Materials



The collection consists of seventy-five photographs from William H. Chisam’s time learning to fly at the Wright School of Aviation in Dayton, Ohio, and Augusta, Georgia, and his service during World War I as a member of the No. 3 Squadron of the Royal Naval Air Service. Chisam flew missions in France during World War I. These photographs are of Chisam and his friends in flying school, military aircraft in France, flying squadrons, and war damaged buildings.


The images are numbered and arranged according to the order in which they were received.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was donated by William Chisam’s daughter, Margaret Chisam Partington.

Existence and Location of Originals

The collection contains photographic copies of original photographs that remained in the possession of William H. Chisam’s daughter, Margaret Chisam Partington. Margaret Chisam Partington published some of the photographs in her 2009 book titled First World War flying ace : 20-year adventure of Harry Chisam, 1912-1932.

Related Materials

• MS-355 Charles Wald Collection (

• MS-1 Wright Brothers Collection (

• MS-311 Curtiss Day Photo Collection (

• MS-502 Raoul Lufbery (

Harry Chisam’s daughter, Margaret Chisam Partington, wrote the following book about her father in 2009, which features photographs in the collection:

Milne, Andy and Partington, Margaret Chisam, 1936- First World War flying ace : 20-year adventure of Harry Chisam, 1912-1932. Margaret Partington, Datchet, 2009.

Guide to the William H. Chisam World War I Photographs (MS-166)
Ritchie Thomas
1992 April
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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Revision Statements

  • 2019 February: Finding aid revised according to DACS standards by Alyssa Stark and Toni Vanden Bos.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

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