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Katharine Wright Haskell Papers (MS-700)

Identifier: MS-700

Scope and Contents

The material consists mainly of correspondence from Katharine Wright to Henry J. Haskell. In the beginning, the correspondence was infrequent, but as the friendship grew into a romance, Katharine Wright wrote daily and sometimes three and four letters per day. Consequently, the later folders will include many letters. Also included are letters to Mr. Haskell from other friends, correspondence between Henry C. Haskell and a researcher in the 1970’s, articles, clippings and photographs.

There are six folders of letters (f. 41-46) which were undated by Miss Wright. Attempts were made to date these letters and when possible, tentatively dates have been marked at the top, and they have been placed in the appropriate folder. However, all dates are not verified and can be used only as reference by the researcher. The rest of the undated letters have been left in the order in which they were received from the Haskell family and have been numbered in sequence. It can be noted that most of the undated letters seem to have been written after the bulk of the dated correspondence, and therefore have been placed behind them in the folder order. The numbering system at the top of the dated letters is as follows: Date of letter; sequential number of letter written on that date; page number; side of page. Example: 3 September 1924 1/2B . . . The second side of the second page of the first letter written on September 3, 1925.


  • Creation: 1922 - 1931
  • Creation: 1977
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1925 - 1926


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 Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright.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

Katharine Wright was born in Dayton, Ohio on August 19, 1874, the last child and only daughter of Bishop and Mrs. Milton Wright of the United Brethren Church. Her four older brothers included Wilbur and Orville Wright, the first men to accomplish powered flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina on December 17, 1903. Katharine graduated from Oberlin College of Ohio in 1898 and after, taught Latin at Steele high school in Dayton and helped her brothers raise money for their famous project. Giving speeches and writing letters on behalf of the airplane experiment, Katharine was known to have been as necessary to the success of the flight at Kitty Hawk as were her brothers. Always maintaining close ties with her alma mater, she was elected to the Board of Trustees of Oberlin College. Katharine had met and become friends with Henry Haskell and with Isabel Cummings while the three were students at Oberlin College. Henry and Isabel were married in 1901. The couple were frequent guests at the Wright home in Dayton over the years, and when Isabel died in 1923, Henry resumed a correspondence with Katharine. In time, a romance developed.

Wilbur, Orville and Katharine, each unmarried, lived together in Dayton. Eventually Orville had become dependent upon his sister’s running of their home, especially after Wilbur’s death in 1912. Katharine was well aware that her brother depended upon her in many ways and that her romantic relationship with Henry Haskell would greatly distress Orville. She kept the true nature of the involvement a secret from Orville and from most of their friends for some time. However, when Henry and Katharine finally informed Orville of their plans, he was very opposed to the marriage and did not attend or acknowledge the ceremony. On November 20, 1926, at Oberlin College, Katharine Wright married Henry J. Haskell of Kansas City, Missouri, an editor for the Kansas City Star. The couple lived in Kansas City where Katharine died in March 1929 of complications of pneumonia. It has been reported that Orville, whom she had not seen from the time of her marriage, visited her at her deathbed. She is buried in Dayton. Mr. Haskell donated a fountain to Oberlin College in her honor.


0.84 linear feet

Language of Materials



Papers consist of mainly correspondence from Katharine Wright (1874-1929) to her future husband, Henry J. Haskell. Letters cover a variety of personal matters including the opposition to her impending marriage by her brother, Orville Wright. Other subjects discussed include Oberlin College, the Kansas City Star, the Wright patent challenge, and Katharine's ideas about women's rights.


The collection is arranged according to document type, most of which is correspondence in chronological order.

Custodial History

In October 1990, Mrs. Henry C. Haskell loaned these letters to the Western Historical Manuscript Collection at the University of Missouri (Kansas City). The letters were accepted as accession number 610kc, arranged in archival folders, microfilmed, and returned to Mrs. Haskell. Mrs. Henry C. Haskell was the widow of Henry C. Haskell, stepson of Katharine Wright Haskell.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Katharine Wright Haskell Papers were donated to Wright State University Libraries' Special Collections and Archives by the Haskell family in 2022 in honor of Dawne Dewey, the long-time head of Special Collections and Archives at Wright State University.

Existence and Location of Copies

Letters from the Katharine Wright Haskell Papers are being digitized and made available online in CORE Scholar, Wright State University’s Campus Online Repository at

A microfilm copy of the Katharine Wright Haskell Papers is available as MFM-117 (DB Rolls 1647 and 1648) at Wright State University Libraries' Special Collections. A microfilm copy may also be available at the State Historical Society of Missouri's Kansas City Research Center.

Related Materials

MS-1: Wright Brothers Collection

Processing Information

The original arrangement and description was completed by staff at the Western Historical Manuscript Collection at the University of Missouri (Kansas City). Wright State University Libraries' Special Collections and Archives staff performed rehousing (new boxes and folders) and made minor adjustments to description (e.g., some date spans). Folder numbering was not changed, in order to maintain consistency with the pre-existing microfilm version and any other pre-existing finding aids. (For instance, WSUL SCA practice is to restart folder numbers at "1" in each new box; however, in this case the original continuous folder numbers were maintained.)

Guide to the Katharine Wright Haskell Papers (MS-700)
2023 January
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

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