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Library of Congress digitizes Olmsted’s writings and personal records

The Library of Congress has made available, online, a vast majority of Frederick Law Olmsted’s writings and personal records, amassing approximately 24,000 items (roughly 47,300 images) in advance of the bicentennial of the world renowned landscape architect’s birthday. For the first time, this resource has been digitized*, and made readily available to the general public. The scope of the information is primarily sourced from records dating between 1838 and 1903. The information was compiled from 60 reels of microfilm. 

If you thought that you knew a lot about Olmsted’s life, you are in for a real treat. These writings and documents tell countless stories of the man throughout his life. It’s as if we can travel back in time, to get into the mind of Olmsted, to see what he was thinking pertaining to so many of the issues of the time. Olmsted’s time in Buffalo was just a fraction of his endeavors and accomplishments. The man was a machine – he was so accomplished that the extent of his work will make your head spin. The following highlights of the digitized works are provided by the Library of Congress:

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
  • Olmsted’s 1878 notebook entry about Birkenhead Park in England, which had been an inspiration for planning Central Park.

Visit the Collection of Frederick Law Olmsted Papers by clicking here.

*The archive was digitized to serve as a resource in advance of the bicentennial of Olmsted’s birth, which will be celebrated with partner organizations in 2022. 

Lead image: The portrait of landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted was published in 1893. (Engraving by T. Johnson from a photograph by James Notman; Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

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