McCormick Balloon Print Collection

Paul Pry (pseudonym for William Heath 1795-1840), March of Intellect, 1828. Etching with hand coloring. GC014 box 7

James Gillray (1757-1815), The National Parachute or John Bull Conducted to Plenty & Emancipation, 1802. Etching with hand coloring. GC014 box 7

Artist unknown, The Montgolfier, A First Rate of the French Aerial Navy, 1783. Etching with hand coloring. GC014 box 7

On January 3, 1966, The New York Times reported:

An aeronautical collection of more than 400 items that span the decades from the fire balloons of the seventeen-hundreds to the prop-driven planes of the nineteen thirties has been given to Princeton University.

The collection of prints, correspondence, photographs, and models was assembled by Harold Fowler McCormick during the early decades of this century. It was given to Princeton by Alexander Stillman of Chicago, a relative of the McCormick family.

Mr. McCormick, the son of Cyrus McCormick, the founder of the International Harvester Company, and a member of the Princeton Class of 1895, died in 1941.

The McCormick collection begins with a series of letters written by the 18th-century balloonist, Etienne Montgolfier, and ends with memorabilia of the collector’s own career in aviation.

Mr. McCormick’s interest in aviation stemmed from a meeting with the Wright brothers in France in the summer of 1908. He took his first flight two years later, and in 1911, helped organize the First International Aviation Meet, held at Grant Park, Ill.

In 1913, he became one of the earliest communters by air when he used a Curtiss hydroplane to travel between his home in Lake Forest, Ill, and Chicago. He named the craft Edith after his wife, the former Edith Rockefeller.

N. Louis, Le voyage aerien: grande valse triomphale, (Philadelphia: A. Fiot, 1844-1849?) printed music. GC014 box 7

An article about the gift in the Princeton University Library Chronicle, 27, no. 3 (spring 1966): 143+ is available full text:

More description of the entire collection can be found at

For information on the McCormick-Romme ‘Umbrella’ airplane, see