This guide is specially curated by by your Architecture & Environmental Design Librarian to provide basic architecture research guidance PLUS key resources closely related to built environment research.
Hello! I am an Archivist at Kennedy Library's Special Collections and Archives. I can help you navigate archives research and primary sources, from Kennedy Library's Special Collections and Archives to around the world and online.
Special Collections and Archives
Kennedy Library, Cal Poly
University of California’s free gateway to a world of primary sources that reveal the diverse history and culture of California and its role in national and world history. A variety of digitized primary sources are collected into sets that support the California Content Standards for use in K-12 classrooms. Themed collections are specifically designed to help educators quickly find primary sources for classroom use, based on time periods and themes.
Digitized historic maps of US cities and towns. Cal Poly users have access to a subscription database of California Sanborn maps, which are frequently used for historical research and preservation and restoration efforts.
Kennedy Library's Special Collections and Archives
Special Collections and Archives at Kennedy Library cares for the primary source and archival collections in the library. We document California architecture and the built environment, including the professional and personal work of architects, landscape architects, architectural photographers, and related fields.
Anyone can use Special Collections and Archives for their research. Archives staff can help you locate architectural and built environment archives at other institutions.
We can also help you research the history of sites and buildings, historical demographic data, and other historic materials that can help with your evaluation of buildings and sites.
What architectural archives can you find in Special Collections and Archives?
Special Collections and Archives houses the personal and professional papers of architects, landscape architects, architectural photographers, and more collections related to the built environment of California.
Types of materials include:
architectural drawings of built and conceptual projects
View of Morgan's student sketchbook in the Online Archive
Finding architectural archives beyond Cal Poly's archives
If you are researching an architect who is not at Cal Poly, you will want to determine where that architect's papers are located. Locations vary, sometimes the architect and their family may have their records, and sometimes an archive holds their papers. To check if an archives has their records:
Try searching the Architect's name + "archives"
Look on the wikipedia page for the architect and see if the archives is listed at the bottom of the page
If using secondary sources, look at the footnotes or citations area to see which archives the author cites.
Finding digitized materials
If you find the architect's records at an institution, check to see if the institution has digital collections.
Try searching the architect's name + "digital collections"
If images are used in a book/article/webpage, check the credits and citations to see where they got the images from
If the items you are looking for are not digitized and if they are at an institution, you can reach out to determine their policies for providing digital copies of materials.
Some architectural records may be found in other collections than the architect, such as:
The client's archives (including institutions such as Cal Poly)
Use a Google Advanced Search
Using Google Advanced Search with specific search terms can help yield more focused results. Within Advanced Search, use the "all of these words" and the "This exact word or phrase" to enter keywords for your subject, for example:
all these words: Kauffman House
any of these words: archives manuscripts collection correspondence scrapbooks sources letters
all of these words: Kauffman House
this exact word or phrase: "Archival collections" "manuscript collections"
Also try (separately):
all these words: Kauffman house WITH this exact word or phrase: finding aid
all these words: Kauffman house EAD
Artists Books in Special Collections and Archives
Special Collections and Archives houses over 600 unique and limited artists' books. They are resources for design inspiration, creative book construction, binding and printing techniques, and may provide inspiration for your projects, portfolios, senior projects. Many are architectural in inspiration and structure as well. Learn more about the artists books collection at this guide.