Updates from ASLA

Frederick Law Olmsted's Papers Now Online

Portrait of Frederick Law Olmsted

Writings and personal records of the founder of American landscape architecture, Frederick Law Olmsted, known for his work on New York’s Central Park, the U.S. Capitol grounds in Washington, the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina and many other landscapes, have been digitized and are now available online from the Library of Congress. The Library of Congress digitized the archive to serve as a resource in advance of the bicentennial of Olmsted’s birth in 2022.

The Frederick Law Olmsted collection includes about 24,000 items, mostly dating from 1838 to 1903. The papers document the private and professional life of Olmsted whose career spanned farming, journalism, conservation, landscape architecture, and urban and suburban planning. Olmsted also served as part of the U.S. Sanitary Commission during the Civil War to help modernize the agency and care for soldiers.

Highlights of the Library’s Olmsted Papers include:

  • Olmsted’s preliminary report on Yosemite and the Big Tree Grove of giant sequoias about preserving public wilderness in 1864, before the national park system.
  • Olmsted’s letter to his wife, Mary Cleveland Perkins Olmsted, about the suffering endured by soldiers during the Civil War.
  • Correspondence between Olmsted and Vaux in 1865 on renewing their partnership and taking on new projects including Brooklyn’s Prospect Park.
  • A pencil sketch diagram of plantings for the U.S. Capitol grounds in 1877.
The Olmsted Papers are online here.

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