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Olmsted, John Charles (1852-1920), Papers, 1860ca.-1920: An Inventory.

Special Collections, Frances Loeb Library, Graduate School of Design, Harvard University


Special Collections, Frances Loeb Library, Graduate School of Design, Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: DES.1977.0001.000603289
Repository: Special Collections, Frances Loeb Library, Graduate School of Design, Harvard University
Creator: Olmsted, John Charles
Title: Papers of John Charles Olmsted.
Date(s): 1860 -1920
Quantity: 36 linear feet
Language of materials: English

Acquisition Information:

Immediate source of acquisition: Gift of Carolyn Olmsted, 1977.

Processing Information:

Processed by Mary Daniels

Conditions on Use and Access:

Contact Special Collections Department, Frances Loeb Library, Harvard Design School


John Charles Olmsted (1852-1920), sequentially nephew, stepson and business partner of Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903). Trained at the Yale Scientific School, graduating in 1875, he apprenticed with the elder Olmsted in professional practice as a landscape architect. During the subsequent three decades, the Olmsted firm became securely established as the premier landscape design office in the United States; their hundreds of commissions and projects ranged from private gardens to large-scale institutional planning and municipal park systems. Throughout this period, John Charles Olmsted assumed responsibility for the administration of the office while traveling extensively on design work throughout the United States and Canada. By the time of his death in 1920, the office's clients numbered more than 3500 since its founding; a figure due, in no small measure, to John Charles Olmsted's skills as both a designer and a meticulous administrator. Joined in practice in the 1890s by Charles Eliot (1859-1897) and his stepbrother Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. (1870-1957), the volume and quality of John Charles Olmsted's contribution to the firm's projected designs, realized works and reputation is incalculable.
Among Olmsted's most significant work are park systems developed for Portland, Maine and Portland, Oregon, Seattle, Spokane, and Charleston, as well as New Orleans' Audubon Park. He continued park planning initiated by the senior Olmsted in Boston, Buffalo, Louisville, and Chicago, among numerous other sites. Active in a number of professional associations, Olmsted was also a founding member of the American Society of Landscape Architects.


The Papers of John Charles Olmsted are composed of Series A (Lectures, Reports ...), Series B-F (Correspondence), Series G (Bound Manuscripts), Series H-I (Unbound Manuscripts), Series J (Printed Miscellanea), Series K (Juvenilia), Sketches and Drawings), Series L (Photographs) and Series M (Clippings).

Scope and Contents

The collection includes some 5,000 letters exchanged with his wife, Sophia White Olmsted (1862-1956), during the years 1898-1920. During this period Olmsted traveled for lengthy periods on firm business and this correspondence provides insight into the realities of both practice and domestic concerns. There are also correspondence files with professional colleagues, scattered manuscript materials of professional interest, as well as family papers, ephemera and photographs.

Container List

Personal Names Index

Corporate Names Index

Conference Names Index

Titles Index

LC Topical Headings Index

Geographic Names Index

Genre / Form Index

AAT Terms Index