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Woodcut of a bicycle that Wright Bros. used to advertise their bicycle shop
Woodcut of a bicycle that the Wright Brothers used to advertise their bicycle shop. Courtesy Charlotte and August Brunsman

Their First Love: The Wright Brothers and Printing

Wilbur and Orville had three careers. Three years before they opened their first bicycle shop and six years before their active interest in flying, they wrote, edited, published, and printed 52 editions of a four-page weekly newspaper, and 78 editions of a four-page, five-column daily. They also filled hundreds of orders for printing jobs, including books with up to 115 pages.

If it had not been for the work of August and Charlotte Brunsman, the world might remain unaware of the great printing legacy the Wright brothers left to the Dayton community and to global audiences. The Brunsmans worked tirelessly to uncover the hidden history of Wilbur and Orville Wright's printing career.

The Wright brothers learned about printing from their father, who edited a religious newspaper. As boys they created their own engraving tools and woodcuts, which they used to print small items. They also built their own printing press, which could handle large jobs, printing 1,000 tracts of a church publication. When the brothers were older, they printed and published local newspapers and periodicals. They also printed the Tattler, a newspaper published by the renown poet, Paul Lawrence Dunbar. Even when they became involved with the Wright Cycle Company, they advertised it in a weekly magazine they printed.

Twenty-seven years after the brothers made history with their airplane, and eighteen years after Wilbur's death, Orville Wright designed and built a printing press for the Miami Wood Specialty Company. He continued to stay interested in printing.

Documentation includes a text report; publications by the Brunsmans; photographs, including some of woodcuts, engravings, and of Wright brothers' publications; and oral recollections on text and nine audio cassettes.

Originally submitted by: Tony P. Hall, Representative (3rd District).



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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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