Skip to main content

Archives at The Museum of Flight

Alexander Graham Bell and the Aerial Experiment Association Photograph Collection

Identifier: 2018-10-01-B
The collection consists of 25 silver gelatin prints depicting Alexander Graham Bell and other members of the Aerial Experiment Association as well as a souvenir bulletin with additional images. The photographs depict the members of the group, including Glenn Curtiss, Frederick Walker Baldwin, J. A. Douglas McCurdy, Thomas Selfridge and others. The photographs also depict four out of the five "aerodrome" aircraft they built, both on the ground and in flight, in Nova Scotia and New York. The photographs range in size from 3.75x3 inches to 6.5x4.75 inches. The photographer(s) is unidentified.

The souvenir volume of "bulletins" consists of 8 pages of text and 31 enlarged photographs illustrating the work of the Aerial Experiment Association. The souvenir album was issued April 12, 1909 for the surviving members: Mabel Gardiner Bell, Alexander Graham Bell, Glenn Curtiss, J. A. Douglas McCurdy, and F. W. Baldwin. It discusses Bell's "Kite Cygnet I" and "Cygnet II" in addition to the aerodromes. The collection also includes two later photomechanical prints signed in blue ink by J. A. Douglas McCurdy.


  • 1908-1909


Language of Materials

Three photographs have handwritten captions in French. All other materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research and is accessible in the Dahlberg Research Center by appointment. For more information contact us.

Conditions Governing Use

The Museum of Flight (TMOF) Archives is the owner of the physical materials in the archives and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from TMOF archives before any publication use. TMOF does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.


.2 Cubic Feet (1 half-width letter-size document box)


25 photographs of Alexander Graham Bell and other members of the Aerial Experiment Association along with their aerodrome aircraft; souvenir booklet of the association; 2 photomechanical prints signed by J.A. McCurdy.

Historical Note: Aerial Experiment Association

The Aerial Experiment Association was founded by Alexander Graham Bell along with John Alexander Douglas McCurdy and Frederick W. Baldwin on October 1, 1907 at the Hailfax Hotel in Nova Scotia. Glenn Curtiss was recruited as a member and Augustus Post assisted. U.S. Army Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge also was a member. The organization's purpose was to construct a practical flying machine driven through the air by its own power and carrying a man. Bell's wife Mabel Gardiner Hubbard Bell financed the organization.

The experiments had started near the Bells' home near Baddeck, Nova Scotia but in February 1908 they moved to Hammondsport, New York near Keuka Lake. The group's experiments began with tetrahedral kites. "Red Wing" was the group's first aerodrome, named for the maroon fabric of its wings, which flew 319 feet on March 12, 1908. It was followed by "White Wing" which flew May 17–23, 1908. The most successful design from the group was Glenn H. Curtiss's "June Bug" which won the Scientific American Cup, the first aeronautical prize awarded in the U.S., for a flight longer than a kilometer. Their fourth machine was "Silver Dart" and when McCurdy flew this on February 23, 1909 it became the first powered flight in Canada.

The group was disbanded by the end of March 1909.

Custodial History

The Museum purchased the collection from RR Auction. RR Auction listed the items as belonging to the Thomas G. Foxworth Aeronautical Collection.


No further accruals are expected.

Existence and Location of Copies

Materials from this collection have been digitized and are available at The Museum of Flight Digital Collections.

Processing Information

Photographs were received in a modern display album, but for preservation purposes were removed. They were maintained in the original order. The booklet was disbound for preservation purposes and the photographic pages were sleeved and maintained in order.
Guide to the Alexander Graham Bell and the Aerial Experiment Association Photograph Collection
Completed - Level 4
N. Davis
Description rules
Language of description
Edition statement
1st edition

Revision Statements

  • June 2020: Updated related agents.

Repository Details

Part of the The Museum of Flight Archives Repository

9404 East Marginal Way South
Seattle Washington 98108-4097

The Museum of Flight | 9404 E. Marginal Way South | Seattle WA 98108-4097 | 206-764-5874
Contact us with a research request