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Melvin Vaniman: Topics in Chronicling America

Melvin Vaniman was an aviator and photographer best known for his aerial photography. This guide provides access to materials related to “Melvin Vaniman” in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.


"Melvin Vaniman looking up at his air-boat... the big dirigible 'Akron' emerging from the hangar." November 4, 1911. The Day Book (Chicago, IL), Image 21. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

After failed attempts to cross the Atlantic as a part of other crews, Melvin Vaniman engineers his own dirigible with the knowledge of his previous experiences. As the nation anticipates news and crowds gather, the Akron explodes killing the entire crew and casting doubt about the possibility of airships crossing the Atlantic Ocean. Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.


October 18, 1910 Walter Wellman’s attempt to cross the Atlantic ends with crew rescued by steamship.
September 29, 1911 Vaniman plans trip for the following month.
November 4, 1911 Vaniman’s airship experiences a mishap during testing, crashing into the water as the airship turns vertically.
June 1, 1912 Trial testing for upcoming trip just avoids near disaster.
July 2, 1912 The Akron Explodes Killing Vaniman and Crew.