McKim, Mead and White architectural records
Language of Materials
The McKim, Mead and White Architectural Collections consists of architectural drawings, correspondence, photographs, scrapbooks, financial records, and specifications documenting individual projects of the firm as well as its overall operations.
Biographical / Historical
Charles McKim (1847–1909), William Rutherford Mead (1846–1928), and Stanford White (1853–1906) established their partnership in New York City in 1879 and soon became the premier architectural firm in the United States. Between 1879 and 1912, the firm received nearly 1000 commissions, designing a wide array of residential, institutional, commercial, and public buildings in New York and other cities. Influenced by their extensive travels (and training) in Europe, the firm designed primarily in the Beaux Arts style, becoming the leading proponents of a return to classicism as an expression of American architectural character. The firm's work at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, featuring the "White City," also helped to launch the "City Beautiful" movement.
Among the firm's many notable buildings are Pennsylvania Station (1910, razed 1963), the Morgan Library and Museum (1903, expanded 1928), the Brooklyn Museum (1895), and the Municipal Building (1909-1915).
While associated primarily with the Gilded Age, the firm continued for more than three decades after the death of the last founding partner (Mead) in 1928, and trained many significant 20th century architects, including John Carrere and Thomas Hastings.
The collection is currently organized by format into the following eight series:
Series I: Architectural drawings
Series II: Correspondence
Series III: Specifications
Series IV: Photographs
Series V: Scrapbooks and photograph albums
Series VI: Newspaper and journal clippings
Series VII: Financial records books
Series VIII: Publications
Scope and Contents
The McKim, Mead and White Architectural Record Collection spans the period from ca. 1875 to 1950 and includes the major portion of the firm's records. The collection consists of more than 61,000 architectural drawings, including ink on linen, blueprints, and other media; 1,500 photographs, including prints and glass and film negatives; 700 boxes of correspondence and specifications; 54 ledgers, including 17 bill books (1878-1947), 10 cash books (1894-1944), 8 contract books (1903-1930), and 9 journals (1882-1942); 30 photo albums and scrapbooks; and more than 300 original line drawings made to illustrate A Monograph of the Works of McKim, Mead and White, 1879-1915 (all numbers are approximate). The material contains extensive documentation of the firm's operations and of individual buildings, although most information about the firm's early years can be found in the photograph albums, clippings scrapbooks, and financial ledgers.
Included in the collection are Shingle Style, Colonial Revival, and other country houses in Newport, Rhode Island; urban residences such as the Villard Houses, New York; public commissions including Boston Public Library, Rhode Island State Capitol, and Prospect Park entrances, Brooklyn, New York; and universities, museums and libraries including the restoration of the University of Virginia rotunda, Columbia University and Pierpont Morgan Library, New York.
The collection is organized by the following formats: architectural drawings, correspondence, specifications, photographs, scrapbooks and photograph albums, newspaper and journal clippings, financial records, and publications.
More detailed finding aids for portions of the collection are available on-site. Researchers wishing to access the collection must schedule an appointment in advance. Requests for appointments and other questions should be submitted to the librarian for the Department of Prints, Photographs and Architectural Collections at email@example.com.
Open to qualified researchers by appointment. Appointments must be scheduled in advance by contacting the Department of Prints, Photographs and Architectural Collections at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Most of the collection is stored offsite and advance notice is required for use. Please contact email@example.com prior to your research visit to coordinate access. Keep in mind that it will take between two (2) and five (5) business days for collections to arrive, and you should plan your research accordingly.
Conditions Governing Use
Taking images of documents from the library collections for reference purposes by using hand-held cameras and in accordance with the library's photography guidelines is encouraged. As an alternative, patrons may request up to 20 images per day from staff.
Application to use images from this collection for publication should be made in writing to: Department of Rights and Reproductions, The New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024-5194, firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone: (212) 873-3400 ext. 282.
Copyrights and other proprietary rights may subsist in individuals and entities other than the New-York Historical Society, in which case the patron is responsible for securing permission from those parties. For fuller information about rights and reproductions from N-YHS visit: https://www.nyhistory.org/about/rights-reproductions
This collection should be cited as: McKim, Mead and White Architectural Records, PR 42, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections, New-York Historical Society.
Location of Materials
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift from Lawrence Grant White, Stanford White's son, in 1950, with additions from Mrs. James Kellum Smith in 1968.