American Architecture

Boston architecture viewed from the Common

Boston University Programs

Department of  History of Art and Architecture. “Boston’s excellent museums and gallery collections and its range of more than 300 years of architecture bring students into intimate and productive association with major examples of visual culture throughout history.”

American and New England Studies Program.  “The American and New England Studies Program (AMNESP) is a nationally recognized leader in American Studies, dedicated to rigorous interdisciplinary study of American society: its arts, culture, literature, history, institutions, and diverse intellectual traditions.”

Preservation Studies.  “Boston and New England have long been at the center of the preservation movement as home to many of its founders and to practitioners and institutions in the vanguard of developments in the field. Class projects take advantage of the tremendous scope of preservation activity in the region, from large-scale regional initiatives to grassroots neighborhood efforts in cities and towns.”

Database Indexes to Journal Articles and Dissertations

For a complete list of databases, see Databases A-Z.

Note: 1964–. Subject index to articles, book reviews, and dissertations on the history and culture of the United States and Canada from prehistory to the present.

Note: Periodical coverage includes English-language periodicals, yearbooks, and museum bulletins, as well as periodicals published in French, Italian, German, Japanese, Spanish, Dutch, and Swedish. In addition to articles, Art Abstracts indexes reproductions of works of art that appear in indexed periodicals. Subjects covered include archaeology, architecture, art history, city planning, crafts, motion pictures, graphic arts, industrial design, interior design, landscape architecture, museology, and photography.

Note: Indexes articles, books, exhibition catalogs, and theses on modern art, photography, and design from late 19th century to the present.

Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals
“…a comprehensive listing of journal articles on architecture since 1934, covering the history and practice of architecture, landscape architecture, city planning, historic preservation and interior design and decoration.”

Note: Getty Information Institute. Indexes books, journals, dissertations, and exhibition catalogs. Covers Western art, all media, from late antiquity to the present. Includes RILA (International Repertory of the Literature of Art, 1975-1989 ), and RAA (Repertoire d’Art et d’Archeologie, 1973-1989. RAA covers late antiquity to the present; excludes Islamic, Far Eastern, and primitive art and archaeology.

Note: 1861–. Citations to dissertations accepted for doctoral degrees at accredited North American institutions and more than 200 institutions elsewhere; abstracts are available from 1980 to date. Of the more than 2.3 million dissertations and theses cited in the database, over 925,000 dissertations are available for download. Citations to masters’ theses from 1962 to date; abstracts available from 1988 to date. For a subject list of Dissertations in Progress, see the June issue of Art Bulletin. BU See also: Dissertations in Progress Egyptology, compiled by the University of Chicago; Dissertations in Progress Byzantine Studies, North American institutions, compiled by Dumbarton Oaks; and the Society of Architectural Historians’ Dissertations Underway.

Note: 1984–. Institut de l’Information Scientifique et Technique du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique. Multidisciplinary, multilingual database with emphasis on humanities and social sciences.

Note: Covers nearly all art journals from the 19th century. Indexes entire journal contents, “articles, art notes, illustrations, stories, poems, and advertisements. Source of information on popular culture and industry, artists and illustrators, painting, sculpture, drawing, photography, architecture and design, exhibitions and sales, decoration, and collecting.

Guides and Bibliographies

American Architectural Books: A List of Books, Portfolios, and Pamphlets on Architecture and Related Subjects Published in America [from 1775 to] before 1895, by Henry-Russell Hitchcock.Bibliography of 1,461 titles organized by author with an index providing subject access, e.g., “Acoustics,” “Government Buildings.” The texts of these titles are available on 114 reels of microfilm organized by Hitchcock’s numbers (Mugar Mfilm Z 5941 R4M). (For pre-1775 books, see below, List of Architectural Books…)
Mugar Reserves NA2500.H575 1976; NA2500H5751962;  MicroXZ5941 F62
Note: the Internet Archive contains the full text of many of these books.

American House Designs: An Index to Popular and Trade Periodicals, 1850-1915, compiled by Margaret Culbertson. Architect Index; Index to House Designs; Geographic Index of Architects; Geographic Index to House Designs. Annotated bibliography of periodicals indexed.
Mugar NA7207C85 1994

Architectural Preservation in the United States, 1941-1975, A Bibliography of Federal, State, and Local Government Publications, by Richard Tubesing, 1975, 1978.
Mugar NA106 T82 1978

Architectural Records in Boston: A Guide to Architectural Research in Boston, Cambridge, and Vicinity. ed. Nancy Schrock. Massachusetts Committee for the Preservation of Architectural Records, Inc.
Mugar NA735B7A72 1983

Bibliography of Early American Architecture: Writings on Architecture Constructed before 1860 in Eastern and Central United States, by Frank Roos, Jr. Most of the citations date from 1900 through the 1940’s with fewer from the l950’s and 1960’s. The bibliography is arranged by region, e.g., New England, then state, and, finally, town or city. There is an extensive index of proper names.
MugarNA707 .R66 1968

List of Architectural Books Available in America Before the Revolution, by Helen Park.
Bibliography of 106 books from before 1700 to 1775 arranged by author. Essay on the books listed. The texts of these books are available on 14 reels of microfilm organized by Park’s numbers (Mugar Mfilm Z 5941 R4M Suppl.).
Mugar NA200.P35 1973

Encyclopedias and Dictionaries

American Architecture: A History, by Leland Roth.
Mugar NA705R669 2001

American Art and Architecture Grove Art Online: Subject Guide.

American Architecture Since 1780: A Guide to the Styles, rev ed, by Marcus Whitten.
Arranged chronologically. See also: Styles and Types of North American Architecture: Social Function and Cultural Expression, by Alan Gowans (MugarNA 703 G69 1992).
MugarNA705W47 1992

Art & Architecture: Oxford Reference Online  See Timeline of American Architecture.

Buildings and Builders: An Architectural History of Boston University, by Nancy Salzman. Descriptive guide presented in five walking tours. Includes annotated index of architects.
MugarLD514 S34 1985

Dictionary of Building Preservation, ed. Ward Bucher.
From “Aaron’s rod” to “Z-section”. Limited to pre-WWII terms in common use in the United States and Canada.
MugarNA31 D55 1996

Encyclopedia of American Architecture, by Robert Packard.
From “Adaptive Use” to “McKim, Mead, and White” to “Zoological Building”. Entries include bibliography.
MugarNA705P3 1995

Field Guide to American Architecture, by Carole Rifkind.
Arranged by types: residential, ecclesiastical, civic & commercial, utilitarian. Photographs, plans, sections, and elevations.
MugarNA705R53 1980b

Encyclopedia of Vernacular Architecture: North America, ed. Paul Oliver.
MugarNA208 E53 1997 v. 3

International Dictionary of Historic Places, ed. Robert Salkin.

Vol. 1: Americas. Arranged alphabetically by site. Entries include photo, essay, and brief bibliography.
MugarCC135 I585 1995

National Trust Guide to Art Deco in America, by David Gebhard.
Arranged by region, then state. Entries include address, architect(s), description, and picture. Separate bibliography for further reading including books and articles.
MugarNA712.5A7G4 1996

Source Book of American Architecture: 500 Notable Buildings from the 10th Century to the Present, by George Smith. Updates some of the entries in the previous title and adds post-198l buildings. Also in print:
MugarNA705 S578 1996

Biographical Sources

AIA (American Institute of Architects) Historical Directory of American Architects.

A resource guide to finding information about past U.S. architects in the AIA Archives and elsewhere.

American National Biography.

Includes architects.  Theme collections provide essays such as Architects.

Architecture and Women: A Bibliography Documenting Women Architects, Landscape Architects, Designers, Architectural Critics and Writers, and Women in Related Fields Working in the United States, by Lamia Doumato.  Covers women of the 19th and 20th century. Arranged alphabetically by name. Each entry provides information on archival materials, primary and secondary works, and citations to exhibition catalogs and reviews.
Mugar NA2543.W65 D68 1988

Avery Obituary Index of Architects and Artists, 1963; and 2d ed 1980.

Citations of obituaries published in newspapers and journals. Mainly American and English, 19th and 20th centuries. Obituaries of artists included until 1960 are not in the 2nd edition. The Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals includes over 20,000 citations to obituaries, many of them  originating in these print indexes.
Mugar Folio NA40A94 1980

Biographical Dictionary of American Architects (Deceased), by Henry Withey, 1956.
1740-1952. Essays with references, including obituaries.
MugarNA736 F56

Note: A general index for finding information about people in articles, books, and directories. Includes references to American Architects Directory, Contemporary Architects, Encyclopedia of Modern Architecture, etc.

Biography in  Context (Gale)


Boston Architects and Builders Compiled from the Boston Directory 1789-1846, by Christopher Hall. Sponsored by the Massachusetts Commission for the Preservation of Architectural Records (Mass COPAR). Continued by Directory of Boston Architects, 1846-1970, compiled by Mass COPAR (Mugar Reference XNA 55 B6 D5 1984).
MugarNA55 B6B67 1989

Brief Biographies of American Architects Who Died Between 1897 and 1947, Earle G. Shettleworth, Maine Historic Preservation Commission.Verbatim transcriptions of 1,200 obituaries published in the American Art Annual and its successor, Who’s Who in American Art.

Contemporary Architects, ed. Ann Morgan.
International. Arranged by architect (planner, engineer). Each entry includes biographical data; chronological list of works; publications by and about; brief description of style and noteworthy works; photographs of representative works. Some information and illustrations not repeated from earlier editions: 1st ed (1980) includes a number of pre-WWII architects; 2nd ed (1987).
Mugar FolioNA680 C625 1994

First American Women Architects, by Sarah Allaback.
Biographical dictionary with extensive introduction. The seventy-six entries may include brief biography, partial list of buildings, sources, location of papers, and illustrations.
MugarNA736 2008

Makers of 20th Century Modern Architecture: A Bio-Critical Sourcebook, by Donald Johnson.
Brief biographical entries. Bibliographical headings include writings, biographical, assessment, bibliographical, and archival. Name and place indexes.
MugarNA680 J628 1997

Illustrations in Books

American Shelter: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of the American Home, by Lester Walker.
Arranged chronologically by style, e.g., Earth Lodge to Space. Bibliography.
MugarNA7205 W34 1996

Elements of Architectural Design: A Photographic Sourcebook, by Ernest Burden.
Chapters on style, composition, materials, components, forms, e.g., doorways, interlaced arches.
MugarNA2750 B864 2000

Elements of Style. A Practical Encyclopedia of Interior Architectural Details From 1485 To the Present, rev ed, by Stephen Calloway. American and British domestic architecture, from Tudor to Post-Modern. Analytical drawings, historic engravings, and photographs describing and detailing thirteen features: woodwork, metalwork, lighting, services, built-in furniture, staircases, kitchen stoves, fireplaces, floors, ceilings, walls, windows, and doors. Essays on American and British vernacular, brief biographies of architects and designers mentioned in text, glossary, directory of American and British suppliers.
MugarNA2850 E44 1996

Field Guide to American Houses, by Virginia McAlester.
Arranged chronologically by style, e.g., from Folk Houses to Houses Since 1940. Extensively illustrated with photographs and drawings. Bibliography.
MugarNA7205 M35 1984

Old-House Dictionary: An Illustrated Guide to American Domestic Architecture, 1600-1940, by Steven Phillips. Terms and definitions with labeled drawings.
MugarNA7205 P48 1989

Twentieth Century Architecture: A Visual History, by Dennis Sharp.
Arranged by year from 1900 to 1989.
Mugar Folio NA680 S517 1991

Visual Dictionary of Architecture, by Francis Ching.
Arranged by architectural detail, e.g, beam, geometry, plaster. Detailed line drawings with features labeled and defined. Index of all terms represented.
Mugar Folio NA31 C44 1995

Visual Dictionary of American Domestic Architecture, by Rachel Carley.
Drawings. From “Native American Dwellings” to “Contemporary Trends”.
MugarNA7205 C27 1994


Web Sites

Electronic resources, such as the Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals, are listed within the appropriate categories.

1. General Sites

American Architecture

Jeffery Howe, Boston College. Sites grouped under general, cities, skyscapers, churches, buildings (by century), architects, and world’s fairs.

National Building Museum

Washington, D.C. “Created by an act of Congress in 1980, the National Building Museum is America’s premier cultural institution dedicated to exploring and celebrating architecture, design, engineering, construction, and urban planning.” Private, nonprofit. International with emphasis on American architecture.

Society of Architectural Historians

SAH was founded in 1940 to advance knowledge and understanding of the history of architecture, design, landscape, and urbanism worldwide.

Society of Architectural Historians: Digital Resources


2. Selected Sites

American Landscape and Architectural Design, 1850-1920


Architecture and Interior Design for 20th Century America, 1935-1955

Archive “from architectural photographers Samuel H. Gottscho and William H. Schleisner documents building styles and trends throughout the nation. The collection also records interiors of middle- and upper-class society homes. Special features include images of the 1939 New York World’s Fair and gardens of prominent property owners.”

Architectural Archives Sites

Martin Aurand, Architecture Librarian and Archivist, Hunt Library, Carnegie Mellon University Libraries. Links to archival sites at the Art Institute of Chicago, Philadelphia Athenaeum, Avery Library, University of Calgary, McGill University, Canadian Centre for Architecture, Chicago Historical Society, Virginia Tech (International Archives of Women in Architecture), MIT, Tulane University, University of North Carolina (Charlotte), University of Pennsylvania (Philadephia), and University of Texas (Austin).

Frederick Law Olmsted

Richard Leary, New Bedford, MA. Links to sites grouped under biography and philosophy, works, selected bibliography, related Web resources, and Olmsted organizations.


3. Image Sites

Note: BU


Boston (Mass.) and Its Neighborhoods: Images

Donald Altschiller and Ruth Thomas, Boston University Libraries.

Cities/Buildings Image Database

Meredith L. Clausen, Architectural History Professor, University of Washington. Indexed by nations.

Cumulus Image Database

Department of the History of Art and Architecture, Boston University.

Digital Archive of American Architecture

Jeffery Howe, Boston College. Scans of 15,000 slides grouped by century from the 17th to the 20th. Each group can be accessed by location, architect, building type, and style (buttons are at the bottom of the page). Many slides featureBoston Architecture

Great Buildings Collection

Artifice, Inc., publishers of The Great Buildings Collection CD-ROM. Scroll down to “American Architecture Timeline”. Building entry includes discussion, bibliography, and architect information.


Architecture Visual Resources Library, University of California at Berkeley. Visual online catalog of architectural slides. About 20,000 thumbnail images with descriptions are searchable by Personal Names, Object Titles, Locations, Subject Terms, or Abbreviations. Searches also can be refined by selecting a Period or Topic.

Professional Organizations

AIA: American Institute of Architects

SAH: Society of Architectural Historians