Aired: April 18, 2009

The Wright Brothers’ Sister

Wilbur and Orville Wright won a place in history for unraveling the secrets of aviation, but their charismatic sister, Katharine Wright, deserves a lot of credit. Cindy Wilkey (University of Virginia College at Wise) says the brothers, who never married, were shy and reserved and Katharine devoted her life to running their home and business.  Also featured, Steve Watkins (University of Mary Washington) drew accolades for his first book about discriminatory hiring practices at Shoney’s national restaurant chain.  Now he’s written Down Sand Mountain, a novel about coming of age in the south in the ‘60s.


6 Comments on “The Wright Brothers’ Sister”

  1. Jennifer M. Bouderdaben

    Can anyone send me a family tree/outline of the Wright Brothers and Katharine Wright? I’ve been told that these brothers are our ancestors because we share the family names of Wright and Payne. I was mostly convinced of my family connection by seeing a picture of Wilbur Wright in the Aviation Museum in Washington, D.C., when I thought I was staring at a photograph of my great-grandfather, Paul H. Wright, born in Michigan in 1835 but moved to Saratoga Springs, NY & married my great-grandmother, Edna Payne.

  2. shaorn Burke-Polana

    When I was attending Mary Washington College (later University) in the early 70’s, I had heard from a professor that there was a Wright sister who had been instrumental in her famous brother’s success. Professor Julien Binford also indicated that Katharine’s contribution had been written out of the history. Your oral report, supports that and it is refreshing to have confirming information about the family.

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