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William J. Hammer Collection, 1881-1934 (bulk [ca. 1905-1915])


Collection Item Summary:

The collection is the result of Major Hammer's passion for amassing material related to aeronautics and technology, and it is arranged into eleven series: articles, clippings, correspondence, drawings and blueprints, leaflets, legislation, minutes, miscellaneous, photographs, programs and publications. Housed in 23 folders, the correspondence is the most comprehensive series, reflecting the original order which grouped the letters into series by topic. Much of the correspondence concerns the planning of the Hudson-Fulton Celebration of 1909, and the involvement of Wilbur Wright and Glenn Curtiss. There is also a scrapbook of black and white photographs providing front and side views of specified airplanes. Each page has 3 photos showing different views of the same plane accompanied by a label with additional information. (See written copy for details. Also, please see information written on 8x11 notebook paper.)

Collection Item Long Description:


  • Aeronautics
  • Aeronautics--Exhibitions
  • Periodicals

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum Archives


No restrictions on access


Hammer, William Joseph 1858-1934


  • Hammer, William Joseph 1858-1934
  • Wright, Wilbur 1867-1912
  • Curtiss, Glenn Hammond 1878-1930
  • Hudson-Fulton Celebration 1909

Physical description

2.30 cubic feet (4 legal document boxes)

See more items in


  • 1881
  • 1881-1934
  • bulk ca 1905-1915
  • 1903-1916


William J. Hammer (1858-1934) was an aviation supporter during the early years of heavier than air flight. After working under Thomas Edison for twelve years he traveled to New York, where he worked as a consulting electrical engineer. At the same time he began to establish contacts with aviation pioneers such as Hiram Maxim, Samuel Langley, Santos Dumont and Zeppelin. In 1905 he joined the Aero Club of America, but left with a number of others over the Club's continued emphasis on ballooning. They formed the Aeronautical Society of New York with Hammer as one of the directors. He also served as Secretary and Expert of the Hudson-Fulton Celebration Commission, the duties of which are reflected in the correspondence series of this collection. Hammer's aviation activities and accomplishments include balloon ascents in France; witnessing Santos Dumont's early airship flights; arranging for Wilbur Wright's 1909 flight from Governors Island over New York Harbor; serving as referee at exhibitions; composing articles and reports; examining and testing various aircraft; inventing an aviation signaling system and the Radium Luminous Compounds used on aircraft instruments; and serving as Major in World War I.


  • Correspondence
  • Collection descriptions
  • Manuscripts
  • Drawings
  • Photographs
  • Publications
  • Scrapbooks

Local number


Finding Aids

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