Archive for the 'Wings of Opportunity' Category

Rare Women of the Titanic Disaster pamphlet available as ebook

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011 by Brian Seidman

In advance of April 2012’s one-hundredth anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, NewSouth Books is pleased to make a rare firsthand account of the disaster newly available for readers.

Sylvia Harbaugh Caldwell traveled on the Titanic in 1912 with her husband Albert and their ten-month-old son Alden; the family survived due to fortunate seats on the Titanic’s Lifeboat 13. In the aftermath, Caldwell published Women of the Titanic Disaster, a narrative of the sorrow and sacrifices of her fellow female passengers.

Almost no copies of Women of the Titanic Disaster exist; but professor Julie Hedgepeth Williams, Caldwell’s great-niece, inherited a copy, which she used as a basis for her new book A Rare Titanic Family: The Caldwells’ Story of Survival. In conjunction with NewSouth’s publication of Rare Titanic Family in January 2012, Women of the Titanic Disaster is now available for wide readership as an ebook.

Williams calls Women of the Titanic Disaster a “godsend in letting me hear Sylvia’s voice.” Indeed this touching recollection of the harrowing Titanic disaster will be treasured by readers and researchers alike. Women of the Titanic Disaster is available in the Apple iBookstore, and for the Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader, and all major ebook devices.

A Rare Titanic Family: The Caldwells’ Story of Survival, by Julie Hedgepeth Williams, will be available in January 2012. Williams is also the author of Wings of Opportunity: The Wright Brothers in Montgomery, Alabama, 1910.

Wings of Opportunity author Julie Williams inducted to First Flight Society

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011 by Sam Robards

Wings of Opportunity by Julie Williams

Julie Williams had an exciting day when she was granted membership to the First Flight Society. The society, which seeks to memorialize the Wright Brothers’ accomplishments and promote aviation, inducted Williams, author of Wings of Opportunity: The Wright Brothers in Montgomery, Alabama, 1910, at a recent organization event.

Julie sent us her impressions from the event:

I have been honored this week with a membership in the First Flight Society in connection with my work on the Wright Brothers in Alabama, as shown in my book, Wings of Opportunity:  The Wright Brothers in Montgomery, Alabama, 1910.  I was invited to speak about the Wright Brothers in Alabama on the 107th anniversary of the first flight, made by Wilbur and Orville Wright in 1903 at Kitty Hawk, NC.  In fact, I spoke to the Society at Kitty Hawk.

I gave the address to the First Flight Society at the invitation of Lois Smith, whose grandfather, John T. Daniels, took the famous picture of the first flight.  This was very significant for me, as my two sisters had Lois as a social studies teacher in 7th grade when we were growing up in Raleigh, NC.  I didn’t have her as a teacher and was so disappointed!  She had connections to that famous photo, and she got to go to the coast every December 17 on the anniversary of the first flight in order to take part in many festivities. I found that so fascinating as a youngster.  I never dreamed that 39 years later I would accompany her.  It was a delight to FINALLY get Lois as my “teacher!”

Julie and Wings of Opportunity were also mentioned on Birmingham Fox 6’s Good Day, Alabama morning show. Susan Swagler of Birmingham Magazine and the Turn the Page blog named Wings of Opportunity a recommended read about an unknown chapter in Alabama’s aviation history.

Wings of Opportunity:  The Wright Brothers in Montgomery, Alabama, 1910 is available from NewSouth Books, or your favorite retail or online bookseller.

St. Joseph High School students win competition with help from author Julie Williams

Friday, May 28th, 2010 by Lisa Harrison

Students at St. Joseph High School in Natrona Heights, Pennsylvania recently won first place in the Pittsburgh Regional National History Day Competition thanks in part to an interview with Julie Williams, author of Wings of Opportunity: The Wright Brothers in Montgomery, Alabama. For their winning project, Randy Mielecki, Gina Robinson, and Mark Ignaczak produced a film called “The ‘Wright’ Idea: An American Innovation,” about the invention of flight.

Randy Mielecki compiled all of the paperwork (process paper and bibliography), as well as arranged for phone and in-person interviews. Mark Ignaczak conducted most of the research and drafted a script based on what he learned. Gina Robinson was the videographer and visual editor, designing and producing the film itself.

Dr. Williams, a journalism professor at Samford University, was one of several professors interviewed. She provided insight on the nation’s first flight school, established by the Wrights in Montgomery, Alabama in 1910. In thanking her, the students said that she “really put a different spin on things and helped us to look at the Wright Brothers from a new perspective.”

Congratulations to these students on their award-winning project.

Wings of Opportunity: The Wright Brothers in Montgomery, Alabama is available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite retail or online bookseller.

Clear Channel program calls Julie Williams’s Wright brothers history a work of “masterful storytelling”

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010 by Lisa Harrison

Viewpoint Alabama recently featured an interview with Julie Williams, author of Wings of Opportunity: The Wright Brothers in Montgomery, Alabama. Host Neal Vickers expressed his pleasant surprise on learning from Julie’s book that the Wright brothers had a “deep-rooted history in Montgomery.”

Wings of Opportunity recounts the history of the nation’s first civilian flight school, founded by the Wrights in Montgomery in 1910. Author Williams chronicles the short life of this flight school as seen mainly though the eyes of the Alabama press.

Williams, who was born on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, explained to Vickers her personal interest in the Wrights, formed during her childhood spent near Wright historical sites. She recounted how publication of her book has allowed her to meet people with their own Wright connections, such as an 80-year-old man who remembers his college professor talk about loaning the Wrights a car so they could travel from downtown Montgomery out to the field where their flying school was located. Williams pointed out that stories about the Wrights “were handed down through the generations,” according to many of her contacts, so important was contact with the brothers thought to be for family history.

The interview also highlighted the role of the press in covering the flight school, as Williams explained that very few people understood anything about airplanes, and as the Wrights were not very forthcoming in dealing with the press, reporters were left to their own resources to create stories.

Host Vickers concluded the conversation with the remark, “I have been told you are a masterful storyteller, and I have to agree.”

Wings of Opportunity: The Wright Brothers in Montgomery, Alabama is available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite local or online retailer

Julie Williams uncovers Wright brothers Birmingham connection

Friday, March 19th, 2010 by Lisa Harrison

Julie Williams, author of Wings of Opportunity: The Wright Brothers in Montgomery, Alabama, recently published by NewSouth Books, brought her search for information on a Wright brothers-Birmingham connection to the pages of the Birmingham News in an op/ed piece on March 14. In her article, Williams recounted meeting and hearing from several locals with personal stories about the Wrights.

Julie met descendents of Frank Kohn, donor of the plantation the Wrights used for their field, who now live in Birmingham.

She received an email from a descendent of Earl Kreis, who served as the Wrights’ “water boy,” and spoke with Miller Gorrie, whose ancestor built the Wright hangar in Montgomery. The family business, Brafield & Gorrie General Contrator, is headquartered today in Birmingham.

Julie was also contacted by a descendent of David Clark Wright, a distant cousin of the brothers who helped them with the bicycle.

Andy Davis shared with Julie his story of meeting Orville Wright:

Orville visited Edwarda, widow of Orville’s distant cousin, when Davis was around age 5 or 6. As Davis recalled, Edwarda called him in from outside to meet Orville. “Nice to meet you,” little Andy said politely, and turned to leave.

Edwarda stopped him. “You don’t understand,” she said. “This is the man who invented the airplane.”

Young Andy stared up at Orville and asked, “May I go get my friends to come see him?” This amused the adults, who turned down the offer. “‘Oh,’ I said,” Davis recounted. “So I took my ball and went outside to play.

Davis had a news clipping about Orville’s visit for many years, but it got lost. He’s hoping to locate another.

Julie was able to “solve” another Wright mystery by searching the internet. She discovered that the eldest of the Wright brothers, Reuchlin, probably did live in Birmingham:

Reuchlin was a member of a club called “The Ten Dayton Boys.” When the club met on Feb. 12, 1887, it threw a reception in honor of Reuchlin, who was leaving soon for Birmingham.

Julie Williams asks that anyone with more information about these or other connections to the Wright brothers in Alabama contact her by email at jjwillia (at)

Wings of Opportunity: The Wright Brothers in Montgomery, Alabama is available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite retail or online book seller.

Julie Williams Gives Electronic Student Presentation on the Wright Brothers

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010 by Lisa Harrison

Orville and Wilbur would have approved, no doubt, of the technology that permitted Samford University professor Julie Williams, author of Wings of Opportunity: The Wright Brothers in Montgomery, Alabama 1910, recently published by NewSouth Books, to visit remotely with students at Shiloh Point Elementary School. In a video conference with the school’s fifth graders, set up by Horizons Program Teacher Elizabeth Stevens on February 4, it was almost as if Williams was present in Cumming, Georgia, that day.

Dr. Williams shared with students the story of the nation’s first civilian flight school, founded by Orville and Wilbur Wright in Montgomery, Alabama, a lesser-known chapter in aviation history. The journalism professor was delighted to receive a bit of instruction from her students as well, who informed her that Orville Wright had invented a calculating machine, a precursor of the modern calculator, in 1895, a fact they had uncovered while researching the Wrights on The Wilbur and Orville Wright Timeline, 1867-1948. Obviously the students had done their homework and were well-prepared to participate in the video conference, a technological development the forward-thinking Wrights would no doubt have appreciated.

Wings of Opportunity is available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite retail or online bookseller.


Small-town newspapers: Author Julie Williams Speaks to Their Worth

Monday, February 8th, 2010 by Lisa Harrison

In a recent article that ran in the Samson Independent in Clinton, N. C., Julie Williams, author of the newly released Wings of Opportunity: The Wright Brothers in Montgomery, Alabama, 1910 remembers her tenure there as a very young journalist, when she honed her reporting skills and learned to appreciate the importance of home-town journalism.

The love of journalism that developed during her time at the Independent inspired Williams to pursue a Ph.D in the subject and later to draft a paper on local journalists’ coverage of a flight school established by the Wright brothers in Montgomery, Alabama. This project developed into a full-fleged book, the just-published Wings of Opportunity, appealing to students of both the history of flight and the history of journalism and public relations.

Dr. Williams shared her enthusiasm for small-town newspaper with the Independent, stressing that she “is also quite optimistic about the role that small town newspapers have in the lives of its residents. ‘I tell people all the time. Who else is going to cover a small town?,’ Williams remarked, adding that the newspaper is truly ‘the first place to make a difference’ in people’s lives.”

Wings of Opportunity is available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite retail or online bookseller.

AP and NY Times Regional Media Group Help New Book on Wright Brothers Take Off

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010 by Lisa Harrison

Lift off is what planes do, but Julie Williams, author of Wings of Opportunity: The Wright Brothers in Montgomery, Alabama, 1901, newly published by NewSouth Books, says she is flying sky high thanks to recent articles by Jay Reeves at the Associated Press and Dana Beyerle of the New York Times Regional Media Group respectively. Their stories on her new book have been picked up by literally dozens of papers in the last few days, ranging from the Charlotte Observer to the Zanesville Times Recorder, the Rocky Mount Telegram, to the USA Today online edition.

From the AP story:

Williams was born at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, and raised in North Carolina, where the Wrights made the first powered airplane flight at Kitty Hawk in 1903. It seemed only natural for her to research the Wrights’ time in Alabama after she moved to the state.

“I just couldn’t resist it,” she said. “I am just driven to read Wright brothers stuff. I always have been.”

Historian George Cully of Maxwell Air Force Base, which was built on the site of the Wright school, said the brothers made some important innovations while in Montgomery, including adding a stabilizer to their airplane and making a series of nighttime flights.

“It’s a great story, and she has done a great job of mining the essential source, which was the newspaper,” he said.

Author Julie Williams is busy enthusiastically sharing the little-known story of the nation’s first civilian flight school and its reception by local newspapers in interviews and at book signings, including upcoming appearances at the Southern Museum of Flight in Birmingham, AL on January 9, the Avondale Regional Library in Birmingham on January 26, Beehive Coffee & Books in Monroeville, AL on February 5, Samford University Faculty Shop Talk on February 16, and a Brown Bag Lunch at the Birmingham Public Library on March 31.

New York Times Columnist John Harwood Quotes Julie Williams

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009 by Andrew

The New York Times recently quoted Julie Hedgepeth Williams, author of the forthcoming Wings of Opportunity: The Wright Brothers in Montgomery, Alabama, 1910, in their “The Caucus” political column “If Fox is Partisan, It Is Not Alone.” The article explores the role partisanship plays in the coverage of politics by the modern American media. Quoting from The Early American Press, 1690-1783—a book Williams authored with William David Sloan—the article discusses the American press in its infancy and the early beliefs held that the press was expected to be explicitly partisan.

Julie Williams is no stranger to journalism or the history of the American press. She began her career in journalism as a staff member of the Sampson Independent in Clinton, North Carolina, where she worked for seven years before returning to school to receive her M.A. in Journalism and Ph.D in Mass Communications from the University of Alabama. Williams is currently a professor of journalism at Samford University, a position she’s held since 1994. She’s also authored several books, including the aforementioned title as well as The Significance of the Printed Word in Early America: Colonists’ Thoughts on the Role of the Press and the forthcoming NewSouth title Wings of Opportunity

Available in January 2010, Wings of Opportunity chronicles Orville and Wilbur Wright’s founding in 1910 of the first civilian flight school in the United States. This flight school, based in Montgomery, Alabama, was heralded by forward-thinking Montgomerians as a way to rise above the shadow of the Civil War, and Williams relates the short life of this flight school mainly through the eyes of the Alabama press, whose reporting and sometimes misreporting “reflected the misconceptions, hopes, dreams, and fears about aviation in 1910, painting a picture of a time when flight was untested, unsteady, and unavailable to most people.”

Wings of Opportunity will be available in January 2010 from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite local or online retailer.