The Wilbur and Orville Wright Papers
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COLLECTION HIGHLIGHTS: Early Business Ventures of the Wright Brothers

West Side Newspaper, May 11, 1889
Image, caption following West Side News, 11 May 1889. Subject File: Printing & Publishing Business --West Side News, 1889. Wilbur and Orville Wright Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress. Printing was one of Orville's hobbies as a youngster and the first publication that he and his friend, Ed Sines, produced was a brief newspaper for their eighth-grade schoolmates. By the time that he was sixteen, Orville had worked summers in a print shop, learned the printing business from the ground up, and designed and built his own press. On March 1, 1889, Orville began publishing The West Side News, a weekly paper intended for the residents of West Dayton. By April of that year, Wilbur was involved in the printing business and was soon listed on the newspaper masthead as editor; Orville was listed as printer and publisher. The News lasted until April 1890, succeeded by a much more ambitious Wright- produced newspaper, The Evening Item. Although a very good local paper, the Item faced stiff competition and lasted only until August 1890.
Photograph of Wilbur Wright at Work in the Bicycle Shop, c. 1897
Image, caption following [Wilbur Wright working in the bicycle shop]. [1897]. Glass negatives from the Papers of Wilbur and Orville Wright, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. LC-W851-81 By 1892, the Wrights were earnestly in search of a new and exciting business venture. By then, the new "safety" bicycle had become a national craze, and millions of sturdy two-wheelers were being produced to satisfy this new American craving for speed, freedom, and convenience. Since both brothers were considered not only excellent bicyclists but also the best bicycle mechanics in West Dayton, this new business opportunity became suddenly obvious to them. In 1897 when this photo of Wilbur working at the lathe was taken, the brothers had expanded their bicycle business beyond sales and repair to the design and manufacture of their own line of hand-built, made-to-order bicycles. The Wrights remained in the bicycle business until 1907 and it was successful enough to provide them with the income that they needed to cover all of their aeronautical work.

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The Wilbur and Orville Wright Papers