Skip to main content

Archives at The Museum of Flight

Frederick Nelson Atwood Ledger

Identifier: 2010-10-13
The Frederick Nelson Atwood Ledger consists of one ledger book created by Atwood, circa 1862-1880, with his handwritten notes and illustrations.

The ledger measures 15x6" and has a marbled paper cover with leather corners and binding. The ledger binding is not intact; the cover boards are still extant though detached and the pages are loose. There are 273 numbered pages, some of which have tears or frayed edges. The ink on some pages has faded significantly.

The ledger is primarily comprised of Atwood's varied notes and writings. These consist of cash account records; journals of his art projects and commissions; poems and commentary on the Civil War; notes for art techniques such as marbling; recipes for art media such as varnishes; listings of fish prices at Atwood Company fish market in Roxbury, Massachusetts in 1862; and other poems and essays by Atwood. Several pages at the beginning have clippings of poems pasted in. There are additionally some cartoon-like illustrations of a poem.

Of most interest to Museum of Flight researchers are the illustrations at the end of the ledger of airships and balloons. The illustrations depict Atwood's designs for airships with detailed notes on their components. One is in the shape of a fish and is titled "Neptune." There is one sketch of the "Star Spangled Banner" hot air balloon. There is also an essay entitled "To invent or not to invent: A Ship to Sail the Celestial Ocean."


  • circa 1862-1880


Language of Materials

The materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This item is very fragile and may not be handled by researchers. A digitized version is available. 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.


0.2 Cubic Feet (one flat box)


The collection consists of one ledger book created by Frederick Nelson Atwood, circa 1862-1880, with his handwritten notes and illustrations. The ledger primarily consists of notes related to Atwood's career as an artist. Of particular interest note are his illustrations and notes on airships and balloons.

Biographical Note: Frederick Nelson Atwood

Frederick Nelson Atwood (1844-1900) was an interior decorator and painter working primarily in the Maine and Boston, Massachusetts area. Born in 1844 in Barnstable, Massachusetts, he was descended from one of the first group of settlers to the area. His grandfather was a mariner and his father was a fisherman. A self-taught artist, he painted primarily in watercolor, depicting ships and other nautical themes. One of his most well-known paintings is of the USS Maine painted in 1895. His son, Frederick Nelson Atwood, Junior, also became an interior painter.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was donated by the creator’s great-granddaughter.


No further accruals expected.

Existence and Location of Copies

Materials from this collection have been digitized and are available at The Museum of Flight Digital Collections.
Guide to the Frederick Nelson Atwood Ledger
Completed - Level 4
N. Davis
Description rules
Language of description
Edition statement
1st edition

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