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Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS).

The Great Depression, like the contemporary economic crisis, struck a grievous blow to the building trades and professions in the United States, arresting construction projects throughout the country and leaving laborers and architects alike jobless. In response, architect Charles E. Peterson of the National Park Service proposed an innovative New Deal program that would relieve unemployment among architects, draftsmen, and photographers while documenting the nation's threatened architectural heritage.

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Inaugurated in I933, the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) would be administered by the National Park Service, with professional support from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and funding from the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Since 1934, the Library of Congress has preserved HABS's rich documentary legacy in hundreds of thousands of photographs, drawings, and other materials.

In 1973, CHS became the designated repository for copies of California HABS documentation, acquiring a large trove of records from the San Francisco offices of the National Park Service, Western Region. The bulk of this collection--which continues to expand with regular deposits--consists of duplicate HABS records for California and the Western Region, some of which are not part of the Library of Congress's extensive holdings.

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The CHS collection contains the exhaustive and methodically prepared photographic prints, negatives, photographic pages, inventory work sheets, photograph-data book reports, and measured drawings that constitute the HABS program's official documentation. These are enriched by administrative files, correspondence, survey notes, sketches, field notebooks, ephemera, newspaper clippings, and other published data: working documents and research materials, often original, that offer contextual insight into the day-today administration of the program as well as a specific and narrative sense of a HABS surveyor's actual work.

A vital and expansive resource for architectural research, these materials hold special interest in the fields of documentary photography, historic preservation, public planning, and the New Deal. From administrative files that document the 1960s historic preservation battles in Sacramento to poignant photographs of a nineteenth-century Jewish cemetery in Sonora, the documents tell the story, in words and images, of California's vanishing, evolving, and emerging landscapes.

THE FRANCISCO GARCIA HOUSE, MONTEREY

The sketches, records, and photographs on these pages illustrate a HABS team's efforts to document the Francisco Garcia House in Monterey. With their sketches, HABS surveyors attempted to verify the house's original appearance, its history, and its past inhabitants. With their photographs, they captured the adobe's gradual decay. In their letters, they expressed dismay at its eventual destruction, which brought to a close the documentation of one of the region's prominent historic and cultural landmarks.

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Title Annotation:COLLECTIONS
Publication:California History
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 22, 2012
Words:430
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