Balloon Club

From Special Collections Research Center Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

In 1786, a Balloon Club was formed by students of the College of William and Mary, which is believed to be the first balloon club at any institution of higher learning. The balloon was invented in 1773. The first successful balloon ascension in Virginia was accomplished in May 1801 by Joseph Shelton Watson, a student at the College, from Court House Green. The balloon was constructed by students. A historic marker honoring the ascension is located on the edge of campus near Bryan Hall, which is part of Bryan Complex just off of Richmond Road near Zable Stadium. Watson's account of the ascent is detailed in a letter to his brother David Watson dated May 7, 1801. The transcribed letter is available in The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography Vol. 29 No. 2 (April 1921), p. 166-169.


  • Flight School, University Archives Subject File, Special Collections Research Center, Earl Gregg Swem Library, William & Mary.

A Note About The Contents Of This Wiki
Unfortunately, many of the early original records of the College of William and Mary were destroyed by fire, military occupation, and the normal effects of time. The information available here is the best available from known documents and sources at the time it was written. Information in this wiki is not complete as new information continues to be uncovered in the SCRC's collections and elsewhere. Researchers are strongly encouraged to use the SCRC's access tools for their research as the information contained in this wiki is by no means comprehensive.