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Jupiter air mail balloon trip photographs

 Collection — Folder: SP099
Identifier: SP099

Scope and Contents

This collection includes 3 photographs in Lafayette, Indiana on August 16 or 17, 1859, depicting the air balloon Jupiter in downtown Lafayette waiting to depart on the first official airmail journey.


  • 1859/08/16-1859/08/17

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Legal title, copyright, and literary rights reside with Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Historical note

The first official airmail trip in the country took place on August 17, 1859 in Lafayette, Indiana. The hot-air balloon Jupiter, piloted by professional balloon pilot, John Wise, was meant to depart a day earlier but was deferred due to an accident or mechanical issue. About 20,000 people came to witness the historic event, gathering in downtown Lafayette. Wise planned to fly from Lafayette to Philadelphia or New York City, according to different reprots, but the trip was cut short when, according to Wise, the balloon lacked enough ballast for an overnight voyage and was force to land near Crawfordsville, Indiana. Wise insisted that the purpose of the trip was not a transcontinental voyage, but to investigate air currents inland in the United States. It made history as the first airmail flight in the country which was officially sanctioned by the U.S. Post Office Department.


"Another Trans-Continental Air Voyage." The Lancaster Examiner (PA), August 18, 1859, 3. Accessed November 1, 2021.

Ganapati, Priya. "Aug. 17, 1859: U.S. Airmail Carried by Balloon.", August 17, 2010. Accessed 25, 2020.

"Scientific Ballooning." Semi-Weekly Standard (Raleigh, NC), September 3, 1859, 2. Accessed November 1, 2021.

Wilson, Ted. "150th Anniversary of the Balloon 'Jupiter' Airmail Flight." Smithsonian National Postal Museum. Accessed August 25, 2020.,Indiana%2C%20to%20New%20York%20City.


0.01 Cubic Feet (1 folder)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged by subject.

Custodial History

This collection was received by Rare Books and Manuscripts as a donation.


No further additions are expected.

Processing Information

Collection processing completed 2020/08/25 by Brittany Kropf. EAD finding aid created 2020/08/25 by Brittany Kropf. EAD finding aid revised 2021/11/01 by Brittany Kropf.
Jupiter air mail balloon trip photographs
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Repository Details

Part of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Repository

140 North Senate Avenue
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204 U.S.A.