About The AIAHistory
Are you writing a historic structure report? Preparing a historic register nomination? Researching the early members of your chapter? Now you can search for information about 19th- and 20th-century architects or publicize your historical biography project to a wider audience through The AIA Historical Directory of American Architects. It’s an online guide that helps researchers find information resources about U.S. architects in the AIA Archives and elsewhere.
The AIA Historical Directory contains over 57,000 names of U.S. architects and firms—all AIA members from 1857-1978, plus some non-member architects and almost 6,000 historic firms. (Members who joined the AIA within the past thirty years are not yet listed in the AIA Historical Directory.) Under each name, you’ll see:
• what type of information is in the AIA Archives, along with links to files that have already been digitized
• citations and links to entries in a number of published or online reference works (the three volumes of American Architects Directory, published by R.R. Bowker for the American Institute of Architect in 1956, 1962, and 1970 are available in full on the site)
• whether the architect’s drawings and papers are known to be in another archive
What’s in the AIA Archives
The AIA Archives holds the AIA’s own records as an organization, going back to 1857. The AIA does not collect architects’ drawings or papers. The AIA Archives receives many requests from historic preservationists, architectural historians, building owners, and members’ descendants for information about past architects.
In many cases, an architect’s AIA membership application may be the only place to find out when he was born, where she went to school, or whose office he trained in. Fellowship nominations in the Archives tell about those architects’ achievements. The membership files in the AIA Archives are confidential during a member’s lifetime, but the files of deceased members are available for research.
The AIA Historical Directory of American Architects allows researchers to quickly see whether the architect they are looking for was an AIA member, and either view a digitized copy of the membership file or request that it be scanned if it has not yet been digitized. The AIA Historical Directory will constantly grow in response to such requests. Information about collections in other archives will also grow as more archives add their collections lists to the Historical Directory.
Linking to other biographical directories and databases
The More Resources section of the AIA Historical Directory includes links to archives with architectural collections, and a list of published and online biographical directories, arranged by state. Biographical dictionaries and databases of past architects exist in many regions of the country (often through the efforts of AIA members). The AIA hopes to make the outstanding research that is in these regional projects more visible in two ways: by listing the project in the More Resources section, and by providing the link or citation under each individual name.
If you know of an online or published biography project to be added to the More Resources section, or if you would like to volunteer to help match the names from the site or book with their entries in the AIA Historical Directory, please contact AIA Archivist Nancy Hadley at email@example.com.
The AIA Historical Directory is not intended to be a research project or encyclopedia itself, but to bring together research and primary source information from around the country.
The AIA’s membership roll is by far the largest single list of architects in the nation. Now that a complete list of the AIA’s 50,324 members from 1857-1978 exists, it opens up new possibilities for historical research. For the first time, we know the names and membership dates of all the women who joined the AIA from Louise Bethune in 1888 through the 1970s. Thanks to a research fellowship funded by the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation, the gender of over 1,000 ambiguous names was verified and we now have a definitive list of early women in the AIA.
In the future
The AIA Historical Directory is a work in progress. Digitizing more materials from the AIA Archives, adding links to more collections in other archives, and adding links or citations to more biographical projects will be ongoing activities. Future projects for expansion include digitizing obituaries from the early years of the AIA Journal, asking for information from historic firms, and adding membership data from the 1980s. The AIA Historical Directory of American Architects is intended to be a central clearinghouse that guides researchers to information in many places and many forms, becoming ever richer as time passes.
To visit the AIA Historical Directory, click here or go to www.aia.org and click About, then History, then AIA Historical Directory of American Architects.