A valuable collection of late 19th and early 20th century manuscript and printed materials gathered by Abbott Lawrence Rotch is be preserved and catalogued by the Blue Hill Observatory Science Center. The material offers much insight into the state of aeronautics----and in particular kites----during the years immediately before and after the invention of the airplane.
The Rotch collection is held by the Harvard University Scientific Instrument Collection in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Blue Hill, located at Milton, outside Boston, was associated with Harvard from the observatory’s beginnings in the mid-l880s until 1959.
Rotch, a Boston brahmin, was the founder, chief financial supporter, and director of Blue Hill until his death in l912. His collection, which includes everything from news clippings to handwritten manuscripts, illuminates the history of flight during a critical period. Similar collections gathered by Alexander Graham Bell, Samuel Langley, Octave Chanute, and the Wright brothers are held by the Library of Congress, National Air and Space Museum, University of Chicago, and elsewhere.