Summer of the Archives

Have you ever scrolled through the many items in the North Carolina Digital Collections and discovered a hidden treasure? Each week this summer we will highlight an item from our collection in the hopes of inspiring you to discover new-to-you materials in our digital collections.

Tiny Broadwick in her jumping attire

Need a cool breeze this summer? Why not follow in native North Carolinian Tiny Broadwick’s path and jump out of some airplanes (safety first of course). Tiny Broadwick, born Georgia Ann Thompson in 1893 was from Granville County, and was the youngest of seven daughters. Due to her birth weight of only three pounds, she was given the nickname “Tiny”. At the age of fourteen, Tiny joined The Broadwicks and Their Famous French Aeronauts carnival act, performers who jumped out of hot air balloons. Tiny completed her first parachute off a hot air balloon in 1908 at the North Carolina State Fair. She was advertised as the “Doll Girl” due to her size and was dressed in ruffled bloomers, bows and ribbons with a little bonnet to complete the outfit. Tiny soon became the star attraction of the show. Tiny became famous for several different feats including being the first woman to parachute from an airplane and the first woman to parachute into the water.

Tiny cemented her place in history in 1914 when she demonstrated parachutes to the U.S. Army as a successful device for pilots to escape planes. On one of Tiny’s jumps the parachute line became entangled in the tail assembly of the plane, and with some quick thinking, Tiny cut most of the line and then deployed her parachute manually. This was later developed into the rip cord. Tiny became the first person to ever make a planned free-fall descent, and successfully demonstrated that pilots could safely evacuate an airplane.

To see more about women in North Carolina history, visit the NCDC Women in North Carolina 20th Century History. And to learn more about Tiny, visit NCPEDIA.