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A New Deal era program, the Historic American Buildings Survey HABS was a curious marriage of the American historic preservation movement originated in large part by women and the "gentleman's profession" of architecture. Whereas one helped raise public awareness of the nation's architectural heritage, the other adhered to traditional gender roles in the architectural and landscape architecture professions. In its early years——HABS thus presented a unique opportunity for women to step into the public realm both informally and professionally as cultural stewards, specifically as historians and architects.
The role of cultural historian and steward as exemplified by preservation groups like the Mount Vernon Ladies Association was in alignment with traditional roles for women in the late 19th and early 20th centuries; the woman architect faced greater challenges, starting with access to education. Many of the women who served as architectural historians or who provided critical information to the HABS architectural survey team have been unrecognized in the official reports and history.
Likewise, the correspondence and other records generated by the survey between and confirm that the employment practices of this federal project, a work relief project for out-of-work professional architects and photographers, mirrored the experiences of working women within the architectural profession in the early 20th century. For a woman, establishing oneself in the male-dominated field of architecture required tremendous initiative. Most women employed by HABS during the survey's initial run worked as stenographers or secretaries.
The records from this period suggest that women delineators were likely to be hired if the male architect in charge of the HABS district office had a connection usually through teaching with a school that trained women in architecture or landscape architecture.
Women holding the title of HABS historian were equally rare. Many secretaries unofficially took on that role without the benefit of the increase in pay. The criteria used to appoint the district officer for each survey office all but assured that women would not be ased that leadership role. HABS also benefited tremendously from a vast social network of influential women who voluntarily supplied contact information, historical data, architectural drawings, and old photographs of historic buildings and sites.
These women volunteers, many of them "imbued with the cult of domesticity, which appointed them guardians of society's culture and morals," took their cultural stewardship responsibilities very seriously and actively supported the survey in their communities. O'Neill, head of the national HABS office in Washington, DC, said of the Daughters of the American Revolution, a national patriotic women's organization for descendants of people who helped bring about American independence, that it was "one of the most active organizations in calling attention to the need for marking historic sites and monuments or for actually providing funds for the work.
Atherton that "you would do well to contact your local D. The Daughters of the American Revolution organization was among a of women-led historical organizations upon which HABS depended for le and other information on suitable candidates for documentation. Although the work relief projects established under the New Deal beginning in varied in focus, their purpose was the same: to relieve unemployment.
These early programs generally involved construction jobs for men, offering few, if any, opportunities for women. When the Works Progress Administration was established in Mayit included a single division for women and white-collar professionals. Figure 1. This WPA poster advertised traditional household employment opportunities for girls and women in Illinois at the same time other women sought to redefine "women's work" by working for HABS and other WPA programs.
Although Ellen Sullivan Woodward, the first director of women's and professional projects at the WPA, believed that it was her division's responsibility "to see that employable women on relief rolls who are eligible for work receive equal consideration with men in this program," 9 the WPA's employment quotas as well as general cultural biases 10 limited women's participation.
Until the s, WPA policies restricted the of women participants to a maximum of one sixth of all WPA enrollees. Even though the s of unemployed women on relief equaled that of men, the WPA steered professional opportunities first to "he of household," who were typically men. The WPA rules made little sense to professional women who were definitely in need of work, but were made invisible by the stroke of a bureaucrat's pen in Washington, DC.
Phyllis Hamblur of Seattle, Washington, spoke for many struggling professional women when she wrote to Harry Hopkins, the federal relief administrator in charge of the WPA, about her predicament. Women comprised less than one quarter of the staff and were employed in the lower paying positions of clerk, clerk typist, African american seeks Tucsonia gentlemn for senior clerk. Figure 2 Occasionally, a woman was placed within the professional category as a historian but rarely as a draftsman. One of the main reasons for the disparity may have had to do with the general attitude that "the work of H.
Figure 2. The role of paid women HABS employees reflect the limited opportunities for women professionals, particularly in architecture, during the s, as well as their persistent attempts to break through these professional barriers. As a federal project deed to employ out-of-work professionals, HABS offered architects a chance to survey existing structures, demonstrating their knowledge of historical construction.
This opportunity was an exciting one for women who had been hindered by a belief that women were incapable of such work. Historian Dorothy May Anderson has noted that, prior to the s, people objected to women in architectural and other professional offices on the grounds that "women in a drafting room with men would disrupt the office morale" and that "women could not be used as superintendents on a job and could not run various necessary errands connected with construction.
Anderson recounts that Martha Brown Brookes Hutchenson's family told her that "she would be socially ostracized and dishonor her family if she persisted in entering M. The average girl, however serious she was in her work…regarded it as more or less a temporary vocation which would cease with marriage. She accepted an entirely realistic attitude that since she was training in preparation for a probably limited period of professional activity, she need not go as far in her training as her brothers.
Primarily, she [wanted to learn] in the quickest possible time how to de and construct, and above all how to draft. As a mirror of the larger professional world, only when women had access to drafting classes and influential and sympathetic male professors, African american seeks Tucsonia gentlemn for they appear on the HABS work roles. In only a handful of states—Alabama, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Oregon—are women listed as delineators on any measured drawings. With the exception of New Jersey, the district offices in those states had ties with schools that trained women.
The Alabama district office, under the leadership of architect E. Walter Burkhardt, a professor at Alabama Polytechnic Institute now Auburn Universityhad the largest of women delineators because the de program at that school admitted women. This school, in particular, was a leader in providing an avenue for women seriously interested in careers in landscape architecture. Figure 3. The unidentified women in this photograph of a covered bridge in Talladega County, Alabama, may have studied with architect E.
Manning, HABS photographer. Courtesy of the Library of Congress. Located in Groton, Massachusetts, the Lowthorpe School opened in following the elimination of the landscape architecture department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology MIT. Newton Mayall provided the critical link between HABS and the Lowthorpe School, working simultaneously as HABS project supervisor and instructor at the school until dismissed from the survey in for unknown reasons. The large of delineators and project managers on his teams suggests in part that he viewed the survey as an exceptional educational and employment opportunity for his students.
Overall, women delineators employed by HABS accomplished the same amounts and types of work as their male counterparts. Maude D. Figure 4 She added that " miles a week for travel for research and for measuring is a fair average. This work was unusual for a woman and contradicted the prior claims that women architects were unable to do the physical work involved in architectural construction.
Figure 4. A study of the drawing sheets from these projects suggests that Webster, Rowell, and their supervisor, Mayall, took turns as field worker, delineator, and project manager, shifting their roles depending on their worklo, expertise, and the requirements of a project.
Figure 6. Figure 5. Rylla B. Saunier helped with field measurements and drew the final sheet showing the evolution of the landscape of the African american seeks Tucsonia gentlemn for in Danvers, Massachusetts, over time, including the changes in street names and planting des. Louise Rowell co-produced this detailed planting list for the Vale in Waltham, Massachusetts. Rowell appears to have been the team's architectural expert, completing the majority of the fence details and other garden structures for HALGP.
She was also proficient in planting de and historical research. Rowell and Webster worked together on several projects, both checking measurements and producing drawings. Their proficiencies at drafting details were, to an extent, a reflection of the training women received at Lowthorpe and other schools, where knowledge of architectural details and landscape construction was an important part of the curriculum.
Their names were not the first to come to mind for promotion from within the ranks. When Mayall was dismissed from the project inFrank Chouteau Brown, the northeast regional officer for HABS, recounted to Washington that "When they asked me, first, to get some one to head up the work, and 'take his place' over night; I laughed at them; as there is no one else about here who knows anything about Garden historic research.
This experience is not unlike that of many women in landscape architecture. Many women architects found success through a marriage to an architect, for "marrying an architect increased the likelihood of having a husband who understood and had sympathy for one's work. Marriage to an architect also solved the need of finding a job, working part-time, and coordinating vacations, work schedules, and care of children.
Mayer's name first appears in the historical record in a September letter to Brown from Albany district officer Andrew L. Delehanty, in which Delehanty informs Brown that "Miss Mayer will be able to take you to the offices in Schenectady, Troy, and Amsterdam if there is time. She is a very competent driver and has a splendid knowledge of the work.
On at least one occasion, Delehanty hinted at his frustration with the rigid hierarchy of the federal system that prevented African american seeks Tucsonia gentlemn for from giving more administrative responsibilities to Mayer, who in addition to general secretarial work prepared HABS historical reports and other documentation. I have been greatly hampered in my fieldwork by spending a week at a time chasing a payroll from one department to another.
I have a most competent secretary who could do this for me but they will not honor her presence in most of the departments because she is not authorized to do it and is not the 'Head' of the department. Proof of Mayer's central role in the Albany office survives, not in the form of documented salary increases or letters of promotion or commendation, but in Delehanty's request on Mayer's behalf for an exemption from the WPA rules pertaining to the employment of non-relief workers of which she was one—.
The fourth non-relief case is my Secretary and is one of the four who simply cannot be replaced. She handled this work two years ago for Mr. Norman Sturgis, is thoroughly acquainted with all sides of architectural work, understands all the routine of the WPA and because of her knowledge, intelligence, and capacity for work, I am relieved of all office routine and can devote my entire time to the field and offices in my district.
If I were forced to drop her the project might just as well close in the Albany office…Miss Mayer is able to assist in the checking of the drawings, and understands just how to provide the men with the proper materials required by them. Brown echoed Delehanty's sentiments a year later: "Miss Mayer is perfectly capable of running the routine of the office and WPA contracts for the whole state, if necessary or desirable…. Brown later wrote that "Miss Mayer would make a very good 'coordinator,' as she had a certain amount of experience….
Delehanty is particularly muddle-headed in regard to procedure—but this matter, Miss Mayer got to understand quite well and he was content to leave it within her hands; so between them, a fairly effective progress seemed to be possible. Unofficially, Mayer was Delehanty's equal in the operation of the Albany office. She communicated directly with the central HABS office in Washington, DC, requesting help with the reinstatement of the survey at Albany infor instance, and people relied on her for information on projects and personnel.
She knew the desperate personal financial circumstances of many on the Albany staff. She told Washington that "Mr. Delehanty thinks you better write to me in care of Dr.African american seeks Tucsonia gentlemn for
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