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Ada Louise Huxtable papers, 1859-2013 (bulk 1954-2012)

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Huxtable (Ada Louise) papers, 1859-2013 (bulk 1954-2012)

Scope and Content of Collection

This collection chronicles the work of the esteemed writer and architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable. The Huxtable papers provide a comprehensive record of the evolution and accomplishment of her extensive writing career. But Huxtable's research papers, which were integral to her writing, also serve as documentation of the shifting landscape of architectural design, planning and urbanism in America and the world during the second half of the 20th century.

Series I contains correspondence and email records comprised mostly of letters to Huxtable extending requests for her coverage of a specific site or building, advocating the preservation of certain buildings or to comment to her on a previously published article. Included in this correspondence are letters from architects who felt compelled to pen their agreement or disagreement with what she had written about other architects, and sometimes themselves. All of these letters constitute a record of the popular reception of modern and contemporary architecture as well as the professional discourse on both new buildings and preservation in the latter half of the 20th century. Other correspondence includes scheduling and work requests between Huxtable and her colleagues. Huxtable corresponded with numerous architects, politicians and scholars including Richard Meier, John Lindsay, Philip Johnson, Moshe Safdie and Walter Muir Whitehill.

The material in Series II is writing by Huxtable comprised of typescripts for journal articles, books and lectures. Huxtable often kept drafts of earlier versions of her work with corrections and improvements in her hand, as well as the research, illustrations and related correspondence for each project. The bulk of this series is almost a complete archive of clippings from Huxtable's contribution to the New York Times, including her editorials, which often did not attribute her as author. This series reveals that Huxtable's journalistic process was a practice of patience, and she often waited for other critics to place their stories on a building before she formalized her own opinion. Along with all of Huxtable's papers for her published works, Series II also contains the writing and research for The Architecture of New York: A History and Guide which comprises a large portion of this series though Huxtable only completed one of five volumes for the publisher. Other incomplete writing projects found in Series II include the foreword and research for her book on ranch house style and research for a book on extreme architecture, which were both unpublished.

Series III contains architect research files that Huxtable maintained, with documentation spanning the careers of some of the most prominent architects of the 20th century. The files represent her habit of meticulously saving all materials related to a particular architect or firm such as press releases and brochures, biographical/firm files, announcements, typescripts or drafts of essays, clippings or entire issues of journals, letters, slide carousel lists, and sometimes plans. This series is rich in photographs, as Huxtable always requested original photography from architects and never relied on copy prints. Some of Huxtable's most robust files are for Tadao Ando; Norman Foster; Frank Gehry; Herzog & de Meuron; Johnson & Burgee; Le Corbusier; Richard Meier; Ludwig Mies van der Rohe; Renzo Piano; Eero Saarinen; Skidmore Owings and Merrill; and Minoru Yamasaki.

The rest of Huxtable's research files are in Series IV. This series contains research on subjects of interest to Huxtable and often relate to themes explored in her published writing. The research files focus on subject matter related to geographical locations internationally, nationally, and with a substantial portion devoted to New York City. Other particular locations of interest to Huxtable were Boston, Washington, DC, and Great Britain. It is in this series that research on design, planning, preservation and urbanism are more thoroughly explored. Files are typically comprised of clippings, but sometimes also include photographs, plans, official reports and promotional materials.

Series V contains papers regarding Huxtable's participation on juries and advisory committees. Because of Huxtable's prodigious and respected critical writing career she was invited to be a member of several honor societies celebrating artists of letters. She was also invited to participate on advisory committees and councils for cultural institutions embarking on new architectural design projects, selecting architects, awarding prizes in architectural excellence, or shaping architectural scholarship. Huxtable's impact in her field was so great that often organizations that had awarded her prizes asked her back to participate in the selection of future prize winners, such as the MacArthur Prize and the Guggenheim Fellowship. Files typically include correspondence, meeting minutes, institutional reports, architect submissions, travel itineraries, expenses and sometimes certificates or medals. This series also contains papers and recordings from Huxtable's speaking engagements.

Series VI is comprised of Huxtable's personal papers including the substantial collection of awards and honors that she received. These honors include diplomas and certificates (often large format), academic hoods, medals, three-dimensional awards and commemorative objects. Huxtable received more than 33 honorary degrees during her long career as well as the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship, Pulitzer Prize, MacArthur Award and various honors from the City of New York and the American Institute of Architects. This series also includes clippings from articles and interviews about Huxtable, publicity materials, ephemera, Huxtable's annual calendars and heavily annotated address book, research resources, papers regarding her retirement from the New York Times and some of her personal art. Series VI also contains the bulk of Huxtable's photographs including images from (national and international) trips and of her residences, documenting the household settings and changing environs that the Huxtables shared during their life together.

Finally, Series VII describes the extent of the born digital media in Huxtable's collection. This series describes the media at the aggregate level while individual files are described more specifically in other series of the finding aid. Filenames have also been added to notes throughout the finding aid in order to disambiguate between other content on shared media. Information regarding media labels, file counts and size, as well as identified file format types are found in Series VII. The digital materials have been preliminarily processed but are unavailable until fully reformatted. Contact reference for reformatting.


Organized in seven series:
Series I. Correspondence, 1949-2012;
Series II. Writing, 1934-2012;
Series III. Architect files, 1886-2012;
Series IV. Research files, 1859-2012;
Series V. Advisory committees, juries and speaking engagements, 1889-2012;
Series VI. Personal papers, 1912-2013;
Series VII. Digital media, 1980-2012.

Born-digital materials are integrated into their corresponding series based on content. The original order of the files is retained when viewed through the provided links.

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