Lafayette, Ind., 1859. Credit: Bass Photo Company Collection, Indiana Historical Society
Built on a Solid Research Foundation
Conner Prairie’s 1859 Balloon Voyage has been built upon much historical research. Immerse yourself in the same excitement and wonder we found as you learn from these same great resources.
The Eagle Aloft: Two Centuries of Ballooning in America. Tom Crouch, 1983. [Expertly written by Tom Crouch, America’s foremost authority on aeronautics and the chief curator of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, The Eagle Aloft was Conner Prairie’s primary guide as we worked to put the Lafayette balloon launch into the context of ballooning in 19th-century America. Crouch worked with Conner Prairie as a consultant and provided invaluable guidance to the development of 1859 Balloon Voyage.]
Lighter-Than-Air: An Illustrated History of Balloons and Airships. Tom Crouch, 2008. AVAILABLE IN CONNER PRAIRIE MUSEUM SHOP! [This new “coffee table book" features beautiful prints and pictures of ballooning accompanied by sparkling text that illuminates the lives of the aeronauts who bravely faced the dangers of the air. The author, Tom Crouch, will sign copies of this book during 1859 Balloon Voyage opening weekend, June 6 and 7. ]
“Centennial Celebration of the First Official Air Mail Flight, Lafayette, Indiana- August 17, 1859” Souvenir Booklet. Tippecanoe County Historical Society, 1959. [Lafayette, Ind., hosted a 100-year anniversary of the first successful airmail delivery in 1959. The Tippecanoe County Historical Society graciously sent us one of the souvenir booklets from the event. It contains a wealth of information and incredible pictures about the people and events of August 16 and 17, 1859.]
A System of Aeronautics. John Wise, 1850.
Through the Air: A Narrative of Forty Years’ Experience as an Aeronaut. John Wise, 1873. [These two books by John Wise were essential as we sought to understand his mindset, motivations and the science experiments he tried on board his balloons. Most of the quotes in the exhibit come from these two books. A System of Aeronautics has been reprinted by the Scholarly Publishing Office, University of Michigan Library.]
The Aeronauts: A Dramatic History of the Great Age of Ballooning. L.T.C. Rolt, 1966. [Though it was published several decades ago, this book remains one of the best overviews of ballooning history in both Europe and America during the 18th and 19th centuries.]
A Treatise on Gas-Works and the Practice of Manufacturing and Distributing Coal Gas: With Some Account of the Most Improved Methods of Distilling Coal in Iron, Brick and Clay Retorts and of the Various Modes Adopted for Purifying Coal Gas. Includes also a Chapter on the Hydrocarbon or Water Gas, and On the Rating of Gas-Works in Parochial Assessments. Samuel Hughes, Civil Engineer, 1853.
[Wise filled the balloon “Jupiter” with coal gas from a plant in Lafayette, so we needed to understand what this product was and how it was made. This is an exceedingly difficult text to read. Not only does it contain dense information about scientific principles, but it is written in the often obtuse Victorian prose of the 1850s. Dr. Bruce Allison, professor of chemistry at Rose Hulman Institute of Technology, and Carina Eizmendi, experience developer at Conner Prairie, were able to make sense of it and helped to translate it into exciting interactive experiences for the exhibit.]
Military Ballooning during the Early Civil War. F. Stansbury Haydon, 1968.,
War of the Aeronauts: A History of Ballooning in the Civil War. Charles M. Evans, 2002. [The Haydon and Evans texts are helpful overviews of balloon use during the Civil War. John Wise attempted to contribute to the Union cause by bringing one of his balloons for scouting to the battlefront at the first battle of Bull Run. He was prevented from seeing any action, however, when his balloon was torn in the trees as it traveled from Washington D.C., to the battlefield. Thaddeus Lowe, a competing aeronaut, was subsequently awarded the right to form the Balloon Corps. Lowe’s observation balloons saw action in all the major battles on the eastern front until early 1863, when the Corps was disbanded as costs mounted and new leadership saw less need for their services.]
The Aeronauts: The Epic of Flight. Donald Dale Jackson, 1981.
[This Time-Life book is a wonderful overview of all things ballooning and includes excellent pictures and illustrations.]