At the height of his career, Frederick Law Olmsted established a full-scale professional office in Brookline, MA, which expanded and continued his landscape design ideals, philosophy, and influence over the course of a century. The Olmsted home and office, known as Fairsted, was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1963.
Olmsted National Historic Site was established by Congress in 1979 to preserve and interpret the home and office of Frederick Law Olmsted, his sons and successor firm, and provide researchers with historic documentation for Olmsted-designed landscapes.
The Olmsted Archives
The Olmsted Archives at Fairsted contain over 1,000,000 original documents related to the more than 6,000 landscape design projects undertaken by the Olmsted firm from the 1850s to 1979. It contains approximately 140,000 landscape architectural drawings and plans, 30,000 photographic negatives, 60,000 photographic prints, 70,000 planting lists, lithographs, financial records, job correspondence, reports, and models.
The National Park Service has cataloged and conserved the majority of the collections, which contain landscape photographs, initial surveys, field sketches, general plans, planting lists, presentation drawings, business records and scale models. Researchers can study historic records related to parks, gardens, communities, estates and campuses designed by the Olmsted firm.
Landscape Design Records
(1859–1979) help to illustrate the design process for over 5,000 projects undertaken by the firm. The design records contain:
plans and drawings
Plans may include initial surveys and topographic maps, field sketches and notes, as well as several versions of preliminary plans, general plans, planting plans and presentation drawings. These records also illustrate the Olmsted firm’s involvement in horticultural science and the development of the park movement, including the establishment of the National Park Service.
(1839–1974) collected by the Olmsted firm exhibit a wide range of design examples and available landscape products and services. The reference materials contain:
photographs of international landscapes
(1880–1980) provide additional context for the landscape design process. The collection includes:
ledger and accounting books
advertising and promotional literature
As a whole, these records document the firm’s employment patterns and operational methods. Records in this collection also detail the purchase of specific materials used for landscape design projects.
(1847–1980) include Olmsted family photographs, financial records, professional and personal association records, and selected papers of Olmsted firm principals, including Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. (1870–1957), James Frederick Dawson (1874–1941), and Henry Vincent Hubbard (1875–1947).
The Olmsted Archives is currently available on a limited basis for use by researchers with assistance from Museum Services archives staff. Limited research visits may be arranged by advance appointment.
Olmsted Archives Contact Information
Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site
99 Warren Street
Brookline, Massachusetts 02445
phone: (617) 566-1689
fax: (617) 232-3964
To expedite service, please include the following information:
Name and affiliation
Mailing address, e-mail address
Scope and purpose of research
Olmsted Job Number(s), if known
Client name at the time of firm’s activity
City and State of Olmsted job