Biographical Profile

Larry E. Tise is an author and historian living and working both in Philadelphia and in North Carolina.  Due to his unique research on the lives of the Wright brothers, he was appointed Wilbur and Orville Wright Visiting Distinguished Professor at East Carolina University during the years 2000 to 2003.   In 2004 and subsequently he has continued as the Wilbur and Orville Wright Distinguished Professor of History at ECU where he also provides a professional history link to the communities of eastern North Carolina.  In connection with his research on the story of the Wright brothers’ activities in North Carolina, he served from 1999 to 2003 as Consulting Historian for North Carolina’s First Flight Centennial Commission.  Concurrently he spent four summers as a Faculty Fellow at the NASA Langley Research Center which he also advised on matters relating to the Wright brothers and the origins of manned flight.

Born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and with both bachelor and divinity degrees from Duke University and a Phd degree from  the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he has spent much of his career as a history executive, serving as Director of the North Carolina Division of Archives and History (1975-81) and as Executive Director successively  of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (1981-87), the American Association for State and Local History in Nashville, TN (1987-89), and the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, PA (1989-96). 

During his career as a history administrator he assisted in creating and served as president of both the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers and of the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators.  He was one of the leaders in the creation of “public history” as a field of professional history study and endeavor in the United States and was one of the founders of  the National Council on Public History which he served as its second president.

In the early 1990s he became one of the world’s foremost authorities on international awards for human achievement.  During that time he was the founder and first president of the International Congress of Distinguished Awards (incorporated 1994), a capacity he still holds.  Since 1999 he has published on an annual basis the “Official Roster of Distinguished Awards,” the only authoritative international index for evaluating and understanding the world’s most important prizes and awards for human achievement in the arts, humanities, sciences, technology, medicine, education, peace, and other humanitarian endeavors. 

As a part of his research on the Wright brothers he has pursued a personal and professional goal of collecting, transcribing, and editing for publication all letters, documents, diaries, and photographs relating to the Wright brothers’ experiences in North Carolina.   Among the products of this research was a book titled Hidden Images in the Wright Brothers’ Kitty Hawk Photographs, 1900-1911 (2005) using digital photo analysis to discover hundreds of clues about the brothers as they toiled on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  His research on Wright and related photographs has led to the discovery of many new, heretofore unknown photographs and various other objects and materials relating to the Wright brothers which he has incorporated in exhibits at North Carolina museums.    His next book on the Wright brothers is titled Conquering the Sky: The Secret Flights of the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk  has been  published by Palgrave Macmillan for release in September 2009.

Other works in progress include two studies related to his research on Benjamin Franklin.  One of these explores the unusual life and strange career of Franklin’s most prolific biographer, a French historian named Bernard Faÿ; the other the history of a spurious forgery known as “Benjamin Franklin’s Prophecy.”  He is also working on topics relating to the life and career of Thomas Harriot—the namesake of East Carolina’s Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences—and of Harriot’s more famous employer Walter Raleigh.  During the spring of 2009 he organized two international conferences on these figures.  A conference he organized and held at the Tower of London in January 2009 has resulted in the formation of a Raleigh Research Circle devoted to producing historical editions of the works of Walter Raleigh including the great Historie of the World (1614).   A second conference—Measuring New Worlds—(1-4 April in Chapel Hill, Raleigh, Greenville, & Manteo) commemorated the quadricentennial of Thomas Harriot’s pioneering telescopic observations in the spring of 1609.   This conference also resulted in plans to publish the works of Harriot for the contemporary world. 

He is the author of more than fifty articles and books on many facets of history and historical work, including Proslavery: A History of the Defense of Slavery, 1700-1840 (1987), The American Counterrevolution: A Retreat from Liberty, 1783-1800 (1999), and Benjamin Franklin and Women (2000).  He is also author of A Book about Children—a history of efforts to assist children in war zones and in deprived conditions throughout the world.  He is also author of annual reports sponsored by the International Congress of Distinguished Awards titled The Official Roster of Distinguished Awards
Larry E. Tise