Display Status This object is not on display at the National Air and Space Museum. It is either on loan or in storage.

Glenn Hammond Curtiss (1878-1930) is best known as an aviation pioneer and inventor and founder of the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Co. Initially a bicycle repairman and designer, by 1902 Curtiss had begun to manufacture motorcycles using a lightweight internal combustion engine of his own design and founded the Curtiss Manufacturing Co. By 1904 Curtiss' engine had been co-opted by Thomas Baldwin for his airship experiments. This activity led to a connection between Curtiss and Alexander Graham Bell and, in 1907, to the foundation of the Aerial Experiment Association. In 1909 Curtiss joined with Augustus M. Herring to form the Herring-Curtiss Co to manufacture powered vehicles, but Herring's unsubstantiated claims to priority over the Wright Brother's aeronautical patents led to the Wright and Curtiss patent suits which continued until the merger of Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor with Wright Aeronautical in 1929. Curtiss and Herring split after the Wright's filed suit and Herring sued Curtiss, claiming that Curtiss had failed to turn his air race winnings over to the company. Despite these, and other, suits, Curtiss continued to advance the cause and technology of aviation, founding the first public flying school (1910) and later a chain of schools across the US, inventing the aileron (1909), the dual-control trainer (1911) and the hydroaeroplane (1911). In 1920 Curtiss retired from active aviation pursuits. After Curtiss died, his wife continued the legal fight on her husband's behalf until a judge decided in Herring's favor (1931).



Processing Information

The collection is arranged into two broad series. First, is the material relating to Curtiss' professional life. This includes corporate correspondence, miscellaneous corporate materials, reports, photographs, programs and tributes, books, journals, newsletters, newspaper clippings, patent materials and a scrapbook. The second series contains items pertaining to legal cases involving Curtiss, Augustus M. Herring and the Wright brothers. In Series 1, correspondence, miscellaneous corporate and non-corporate materials, reports, photographs, menus, programs, tributes, books, journals, newsletters, patent materials and legal documents are arranged chronologically. The small amount of personal correspondence found in this collection follows the corporate correspondence in the finding aid. Newspaper clippings, journals, newsletters and articles are grouped by title of publication. Photographs are grouped by subject and then chronologically. Patent materials are organized into two groups: patent applications filed by and issued to Curtiss and those filed by and issued to the Wright brothers. In Series 2, the legal documents are organized chronologically by specific legal case.


Curtiss, Glenn Hammond, 1878-1930



bulk 1911-1930


Glenn H. Curtiss, Jr., gift, 1963, XXXX-0053


2.7 Cubic feet (6 boxes)


This collection consists of documents and memorabilia relating to Curtiss during the years of his active aviation pursuits. The bulk of the material relates to patent suits, including Wright v. Curtiss, Herring v. Curtiss, and Curtiss v. Janin.


No restrictions on access


Collection descriptions

Archival materials


Financial records

Arrangement note

Series 1: Professional materials Subseries 1.1: Corporate correspondence Subseries 1.2: Personal correspondence Subseries 1.3: Miscellaneous corporate materials Subseries 1.4: Patent materials Subseries 1.5: Reports Subseries 1.6: Photographs Subseries 1.7: Menus, programs and tributes Subseries 1.8: Books, journals, newsletters, and miscellaneous materials Subseries 1.9: Newspaper clippings and articles Series 2: Legal materials Subseries 2.1: Curtiss versus Herring Subseries 2.2: Curtiss versus Wright Brothers Subseries 2.3: Lena P. Curtiss versus Herring

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of the personal papers of Glenn H. Curtiss. These papers relate to his career as an aviation pioneer and aircraft manufacturing business owner. This collection also includes a small amount of personal correspondence. Moreover, materials pertaining to patents filed by Curtiss and the Wright brothers, as well as legal documents and testimony, are found in this collection.



Financial records


Permissions Requests


Aerial Experiment Association

Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company

Curtiss-Wright Corporation

Herring-Curtiss Co.

Bell, Alexander Graham, 1847-1922

Curtiss, Glenn Hammond, 1878-1930

Herring, Augustus Moore, 1867-1926

Topics Patent suits
Aircraft industry
Aeronautics, Commercial -- United States


Glenn H. Curtiss Collection, Acc. XXXX-0053, National Air & Space Museum, Smithsonian Inst.

Archival Repository

National Air and Space Museum Archives

Finding Aid Online Finding Aid