Ivonette Wright Miller Papers
Scope and Content
The Ivonette Wright Miller Papers is a diverse collection of Wright Brothers material. The papers include family papers, photographs, and memorabilia originally owned by Orville and Wilbur Wright, Katharine Wright, and their father, Bishop Milton Wright. The papers also include hundreds of items collected by Harold and Ivonette Wright Miller in conjunction with dedications or anniversary celebrations commemorating events associated with the Wright Brothers. The papers are divided into eight series.
Series I, Family Papers, contains an interesting cross-section of material. Subseries IA, General Family Information, contain items dating from the early 1800s, including Samuel S. Wright's book manuscript entitled "Political Economy." Perhaps most historically significant in this subseries are telegrams sent to and from Orville's brother Lorin Wright in 1915 concerning discussions with Pliny Williamson in New York. Also significant is Ivonette's handwritten draft of her book "Wright Reminiscences" and her memories of her uncles in "Uncle Will and Uncle Orv" that includes nine cassette tapes of interviews with Ivonette. Other significant items in this subseries include a copies of Wilbur's and Orville's "Last Will and Testament," condolence letters and cards attached to flower baskets sent to the family on the death Orville, the City of Dayton "Resolution in the Death of Orville Wright," the agreement to sell the Wright 1903 Flyer to the Smithsonian Institution, and the Smithsonian's dedication ceremony for the Wright 1903 Flyer on December 17, 1948. Also included in this subseries is a section on Katharine Wright and Henry Haskell. Of particular interest in this section is Orville's explanation of why he cut off contact with Katharine after she married Henry. Subseries IB, Correspondence, is divided into three major sections. The first contains the correspondence of Wright family members and close friends. A major portion of this correspondence concerns Orville Wright's estate, as administered by Harold Miller and John Jameson. The second major section is correspondence concerning the appraisal of various Wright Brothers artifacts. The last section contains mostly correspondence between Ivonette and Charles H. Gibbs-Smith and Marvin W. McFarland concerning articles and books being written about the Wright Brothers.
Series II, Lester D. Gardner Correspondence, contains information about Lester D. Gardner and his correspondence with Harold S. Miller pertaining to his Wright Replica idea. The bulk of the files contain correspondence pertaining to his program of giving a piece of the fabric from the Kitty Hawk "Wright Flyer" to prominent people in aeronautics throughout the world. Most of the correspondence is from recipients of the fabric. The correspondence is grouped alphabetically according to correspondent.
Series III, Photographs, contains a wide range of significant photographs concerning the Wright Brothers. Many of these photographs are the personal photographs of Orville Wright and document the Wright family. The span of the photographs ranges from as early as 1900 to as late as 1993. Of particular interest to Wright Brothers scholars are:
a. A Hawthorne Hill collection of 43 photographs (Box 7, File 11). Included in the album are photographs, both interior and exterior shots, documenting construction of the Wright family home in 1913 through 1941. Interior photographs show original decoration and furnishings of the home.
b. A collection of 126 photographs (Box 7, File 12) featuring Orville's dog "Scipio." Photographs include those taken at Hawthorne Hill, Lambert Island, and with family and friends.
c. A collection of 41 photographs (Box 7, File 14) documenting the Wright Brothers Aeronautical Engineering Collection at the Franklin Institute. Included with the photographs is a draft of an article describing the photographs written by Ralph H. McClarren.
d. The most significant collection of photographs is contained in Box 8. This box contains an early photograph album of Orville Wright containing 276 photographs. Included are photographs of the Wright School of Aviation at Huffman Prairie, Moraine Farm, McCook and Wright Fields in Dayton, Europe, photographs of Wright friends and acquaintances, many family photographs of the extended Wright family, and family photographs from Wright friends such as the Griffith Brewers and the Alex Ogilvies. The photographs span a period of 1900 to 1926.
e. In Box 9 is a modern photograph album containing a set of photographs taken by photographer Andrew S. Iddings in May and June 1909. The photographs record the parades and speeches during the Wright Brothers Homecoming Celebrations. The album was presented to Ivonette Wright Miller.
f. In Box 10 is a photograph album put together by Ivonette about the 1908 and 1909 activities of the Wright Brothers. Included in the album are: photographs of the Wright Brothers Homecoming; the May 1908 flights at Kitty Hawk as the Wrights tested the plane they would fly in Europe and at Ft. Myer; Orville's flights at Ft. Myer in 1908, including a number of photographs of Orville's crash on September 17, 1908; and Wilbur's flights at both LeMans in 1908 and Pau, France in 1909. Many of the photographs in the album do not appear in the Wright Brothers Collection and would be of interest to Wright Brothers scholars.
g. Boxes 11, 12, and 13 primarily document Ivonette and Harold Miller's life as representatives of the Wright Family. These albums contain photographs of various events, such as the ceremonies at the Wright Brothers Memorial in Dayton, Ohio on December 17 each year, the Miller's 70th wedding anniversary, and similar events.
h. Box 14 contains photographs of the interior of Orville Wright's Hawthorn Hill mansion just shortly after his death in 1948 and later in 1949 after NCR remodeled the mansion. h. Box 15 contains a variety of photographic postcards from the United States, France, the United Kingdom and Italy. Several of the cards are signed by Wilbur Wright and sent to Ivonette Wright in 1908 and 1909 - some with notes.
i. Boxes 16 and 17 contains three photograph albums compiled by Harold Miller when he was assigned to France during World War I.
j. Among the oversized photographs in Box 18 and in map cases, there are photographs of the Wright 1903 Flyer during its fourth flight at Kitty Hawk in 1903, attendees at the 25th anniversary of powered flight celebration held at the NCR Auditorium in 1928, a photograph of the Wilbur Wright Memorial at LeMans, France, and a photograph of the Katharine Wright Memorial Fountain at Oberlin College.
Series IV, Special Events, contains information concerning the many dedications, anniversaries, and other events related to the Wright Brothers. For each event, Ivonette retained such items as programs and photographs associated with the event, plus associated correspondence. In some cases, significant mementos were manufactured in honor of the occasion, such as the brass commemorative medals struck for the 50th anniversary of powered flight. Examples of events documented in this series include: the dedication of the Wright home and Cycle shop at Greenfield Village in 1938; dedication of the Wright Memorial in Dayton, Ohio in 1940; the 25th anniversary of powered flight sponsored by the NCR company in 1928; the return of the Wright 1903 Flyer to the Smithsonian Institution in 1948; and the many annual celebrations held at the Wright Memorial in Dayton. Almost all files contain numerous photographs of the event. In the case of the Greenfield Village and Wright Memorial dedications, many of the photographs have the names of attendees inscribed on the photograph. Also included in this series is an extensive file of programs from the National Aviation Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremonies from 1963 to 1985.
Series V, Memorabilia, contains 13 issues of the Wright Brothers newspaper The Evening Item, beginning in June 14, 1890 and ending July 26, 1890. Also included is a 1948 commemorative issue of Collier's Magazine marking the 45th anniversary of powered flight, newspaper clippings of the 45th anniversary of powered flight and dedication of the Wright 1903 Flyer at the Smithsonian Institution, the Steele High School diplomas of Ivonette Wright and Harold Miller, a commemorative program from Charles F. Kettering's 75th birthday celebration in 1951, and the musical score for "Song of the Wright Boys" composed by Mrs. Mary E. Knostman. Finally, there is a newspaper clipping scrapbook put together by Ivonette that includes clippings about Katharine Wright's marriage to Henry J. Haskell and her death in 1929, letters and essays by her son, Jack Miller, and clippings on the 25th Anniversary of the Birth of Aviation in December 1928.
Series VI, Publications, includes a number of publications containing articles about the Wright Brothers. The publications range in date from 1948 to 2007. Many are commemorative issues on the anniversary of powered flight.
Series VII, Audio/Visual Material, contains a VHS tape, cassette tapes, and 16mm film. Included is VHS tape about the Wright Brothers Archives Dedication at Wright State University on December 17, 1978. The cassette tapes are interviews with Ivonette and Harold Miller, and other people who knew the Wright Brothers. The 16mm film is primarily film of Marianne Miller growing up and film of family vacations - primarily in the Western United States.
Series VIII, Subject Files, is a large 2013 addition to the collection spanning a period from 1902-2003. It is divided into two sections. The first section is organized by name, primarily the author of an article about the Wright family. The second section contains a variety of subject areas collected by the Wright Family including information about aviation museums and other subjects, much of it related to the Wright Brothers.
- Creation: 1803-2007
- Miller, Ivonette Wright, 1896-1995 (Person)
Restrictions on Access
There are no restrictions on accessing material in this collection, however, please note due to preservation concerns, original audio and video materials cannot be played in the reading room. Patrons may have access to reference copies. Items without reference copies can be digitized at the request of a patron for the cost of creating a digital copy. Please provide us at least two weeks advance notice if you would like to request an audio or video reference copy. Call (937) 775-2092 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Use of digitized content is subject to conditions governing use.
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 Ivonette Wright Miller
Ivonette Wright Miller was born on April 8, 1896 to Lorin and Ivonette Stokes Wright. Ivonette's father, Lorin, was an older brother of Wilbur and Orville Wright. Ivonette attended Edison Elementary School and graduated from Steele High School in 1914. After graduating from high school she attended Oxford College where she earned a Bachelor of Music degree in 1918. She married Harold Miller, a 1914 graduate of Steele High School and World War I pilot, on June 25, 1919 at Hawthorne Hill, the home of Orville Wright. The couple had three children. Their son Jack was born in 1920, but later died in 1933 after a long illness. A daughter, Ivonette, was born in 1921 and died in 1923. Finally, a daughter, Marianne, was born in 1935.
Miller was a soprano soloist in the choirs of Grace United Methodist and First Baptist churches in Dayton. She was a board member of the YWCA, the Dayton Women's Club, and the Dayton Music Club. She was a member of the Montgomery County and Kettering-Moraine historical societies, the National Women's Air and Space Museum, Aviation Trail, the President's Club at Wright State University, and the Dayton First Baptist Church. In 1981 she received an honorary doctor of laws degree from Wright State. In 1988 she received a "Trailblazer" award from the Aviation Trail Association.
For many years Ivonette was best known as the Wright family representative-particularly after the 1948 death of her uncle, Orville Wright. Whether christening a navy aircraft carrier or talking to a small local group, Ivonette was the person - until she was past 90 - who made Dayton's world-famous family real people with her intimate recollections of her bachelor uncles "Wil" and "Orv." She attended many ceremonies and dedications in honor of her uncles, appeared on network television shows, and gave more than 100 lectures on the Wright family. In 1978 Ivonette wrote about her experiences with her famous uncles in a book titled Wright Reminiscences. Her favorite story was when, at the age of 15, she flew in a Wright "B" Flyer with her "Uncle Orv" at Huffman Prairie in 1911. Afterwards, she reported that "The flight was very smooth, but windy. I felt very secure. I haven't been the same since." More importantly, she, and her husband Harold, an executor of Orville Wright's estate, preserved an archive of more than 6,000 priceless Wright photographs, papers, and memorabilia, most of which were donated to Wright State University.
Harold Miller died July 21, 1991, at the age of 95. Ivonette Wright Miller passed away on October 5, 1995 at the age of 99.
24.7 linear feet
Language of Materials
Ivonette Wright Miller was a niece of Wilbur and Orville Wright, the daughter of the Wright Brothers older brother, Lorin Wright. The collection consists of materials about Orville and Wilbur Wright, the Wright Family, and early aviation collected by Ivonette. The collection includes correspondence, newspaper clippings, journal articles, photographs, photograph albums, and memorabilia. Many of the photographs are original prints of pioneer aviators, Wright Family members, and friends. Other papers pertain to the role of Mrs. Miller and her husband, Harold Miller, in representing the Wright Family at various official functions.
Statement of Arrangement
The Ivonette Wright Miller Papers are arranged in eight series and two subseries.
- Series I: Family Papers, 1803-2007
- Subseries IA: General Family Information, 1803-2007
- Subseries IB: Correspondence, 1916-2003
- Series II: Lester D. Gardner Correspondence, 1947-1955
- Series III: Photographs, 1889-1993
- Series IV: Special Events, 1928-2007
- Series V: Memorabilia, 1890-1990
- Series VI: Publications, 1916-1981
- Series VII: Audio / Visual Material, 1932-1999
- Series VIII: General Subject Files, 1902-2003
Other Finding Aid
A complete box and folder inventory for this collection is available on the Special Collections and Archives web site at http://www.libraries.wright.edu/special/collection_guides/guide_files/ms216.pdf .
The Ivonette Wright Miller Papers were accessioned into the Wright State University Special Collections and Archives on December 23, 1992. The papers were donated by Ivonette Wright Miller, a niece of Orville and Wilbur Wright.
Additions to the collection have been made by Marianne M. Hudec, Ivonette's daughter. The most recent addition was received in 2011.
Existence and Location of Copies
The 16mm films have been digitized. The films are available as mp4 and AVI files in the E-Archives (ms216_e0001). Patrons should use these files to view the footage in place of the original film, which is in cold storage.
Existence and Location of Copies
Portions of this collection, particularly the photograph album pertaining to the Wright School of Aviation (Box 8), have been digitized and are available online in CORE Scholar, Wright State University’s Campus Online Repository, at: http://corescholar.libraries.wright.edu/special_ms216_photographs/.
Books received with the collection have been cataloged and placed in the Special Collections and Archives Reading Room.
The 16mm film has been digitized. The films are available as mp4 and AVI files in the E-Archives (ms216_e0001). Patrons should use these files to view the footage in place of the original film, which is in cold storage.
The collection was initially processed by Richie Thomas in 1992-1993 and reprocessed in 2002-2003 by John Armstrong in preparation for the Centennial of Flight Celebration. Additions were added to the collection in June 2011, October 2012, and December 2013 by John Armstrong.
- Guide to the Ivonette Wright Miller Papers (MS-216)
- Finding aid prepared by Richie Thomas in 1992/1993 and reprocessed in 2002/2003 by John Armstrong in preparation for the Centennial of Flight Celebration.
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English
- 2011 June: The finding aid was revised by John Armstrong to reflect additions to the collection.
- 2014 Feb: The finding aid was revised by John Armstrong to reflect newly processed additions.
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