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Coit, Elisabeth, 1892-1987. Papers, 1899-1987: A Finding Aid

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America


Radcliffe College
January 1988

© 1988 Radcliffe College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: 87-M130
Repository: Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute
Creator: Elisabeth Coit, 1892-1987
Title: Papers, 1899 (1919-1987)
Quantity: 2 cartons, 3 oversize containers, 1 folio+ box, 2 folio folders, 2 oversize folders, 1 supersize folder
Abstract: Correspondence, architectural drawings, photographs, etc., of Elisabeth Coit, architect and author.

Processing Information:

Processed: January 1988
By: Jane S. Knowles

Acquisition Information:

Accession number: 87-M130
The papers of Elisabeth Coit were given to the Schlesinger Library by Robert Hawley, EC's nephew, in August 1987.

Preferred citation for publication:

Elisabeth Coit Papers, 1899-1987; item description, dates. 87-M130, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University.


Elisabeth Coit, architect and author, was born in Winchester, Massachusetts on September 7, 1897. She studied at Radcliffe College, 1909-1911, Boston's Museum of Fine Arts School, 1911-1913, and received her B.S. in architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1919. She was draftsman-designer in the office of Grosvenor Atterbury in New York, 1919-1929, and then maintained her own office in New York, 1930-1942, designing houses principally for women clients outside of New York City and business premises in New York.Her study of low-income housing in the U.S., "Design and Construction of the Dwelling Unit for the Low-Income Family" was published in Octagon Oct, Nov, 1941. EC was architect and technical standards editor for the Federal Public Housing Authority's publication, Public Housing Design, in Washington D.C. (1942-1947), and then research associate with Mayer and Whittersley, 1947-1948. From 1948 until her retirement in 1962, EC was principal project planner for the New York City Housing Authority. After her retirement, she continued to be active as a housing consultant to government and private organizations.
EC wrote articles and government pamphlets on housing, 1943-1962, reviewed books for the Architectural Record, and beginning in 1968 was editor of the newsletter of the New York Metropolitan Chapter of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials.
EC was the first woman to receive the Langley Award from the American Institute of Architects (1938-1940). Among her other honors were a medal in the Better Homes in America Competition, 1933 and an award as pioneer in architecture from the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects in 1969. In 1955 she was elected a Fellow of the AIA for literature and public service, and received an honorary degree from Wilson College in 1969.


The collection is arranged in two series:
Series I, Personal, 1-33, includes awards; photographs, of EC, family, and friends; clippings about EC and her work, correspondence with friends; EC's sketches, watercolors, and plays for children.
Series II, Professional, 34-98, includes photographs and architectural drawings of houses and offices designed by EC, 1925-1941, and of public housing and offices for which EC was consultant, 1961-1972, and photographs of low-income housing 1938-1940, part of EC's research project. Scattered professional correspondence most dating from after EC's retirement, includes an extensive exchange, 1947-1974, with a Greek architect, Cleon Crantonellis; EC's reminiscences of her years (1919-1929) in Grosvenor Atterbury's office were written in 1984. There are also reprints of EC's publications about low-income housing, NAHRO newsletters, and articles about women in architecture from the 1930s and 40s.



Additional catalog entries

Atterbury, Grosvenor, 1869-1956
Cavanagh, Deirdre
Coit, Robert
Crantonellis, Cleon
Duncan, Eleanor
Landerholm, Alex, 1887-
Lange, Wolfgang
National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials- NewYork Metropolitan Chapter
White, E. B. (Elwyn Brooks), 1899-
Architectural drawings
Architecture-20th century-Greece
Architecture-20th century-United States
Massachusetts Institute of Technology-Alumni
Radcliffe College-Alumni