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Reginald R. Isaacs papers, circa 1842-1991, (bulk 1883-1985)

Reginald R. Isaacs papers, circa 1842-1991, (bulk 1883-1985)

Isaacs, Reginald R., 1911-1986

Architect, Teacher

Collection Information

Size: 22.4 linear ft.

Summary: The collection includes Isaacs's personal and professional papers, as well as extensive research material he collected and created for his two volume two-volume biography of Bauhaus architect, Walter Gropius: Walter Gropius: The Man and His Work. The bulk of Walter Gropius' papers are housed at the Busch Reisinger Museum at Harvard University, and the Bauhaus Archiv in Germany.

Biographical/Historical Note

Architect, city and regional planner, educator, and author, Cambridge, Mass.; d. 1986. Studied architecture at the University of Minnesota and Harvard University under Walter Gropius, and sociology and planning at the University of Chicago. Isaacs was active in numerous architecture, planning and housing projects in Chicago, South America, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and elsewhere. At Harvard, he was named Charles Dyer Norton Professor of Regional Planning in 1951, chaired the Dept. of City and Regional Planning, 1953-1964, and played a key role in the development of the urban design program. His 2 v. biography of Walter Gropius was published in German (Walter Gropius: Der Mensch und sein Werk) in 1983 and 1984. Walter Gropius: An Illustrated Biography of the Creator of the Bauhaus was edited posthumously and published in 1991.

Provenance

The bulk of the papers, 22.5 ft., donated 1991 by Henry Isaacs, Reginald Isaacs' son. An additional 1 ft., pertaining mostly to the German publication of the Gropius biography, were donated by his daughter, Merry White, in 1998, who had received them from her father. Additions are possible.

A Finding Aid to the Reginald R. Isaacs Papers, circa 1842-1991, bulk 1928-1991, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.isaaregi
Author
Finding aid prepared by Kym Wheeler
Biographical Note
Born in Canada in 1911, Reginald R. Isaacs began working in architectural offices at age 14, later coming under the influence of "Beaux-Arts diplomes" at the University of Minnesota and Harvard and subsequently under that of Walter Gropius at Harvard University. He later studied sociology and planning at the University of Chicago under Louis Wirth and Rexford Guy Tugwell.
Isaacs served on the staffs of city planning commissions in Minneapolis, Syracuse, and Chicago, and in the federal government in the National Youth Agency, Public Housing Authority, and Housing and Home Finance Agency. His architectural practice in Minneapolis, Washington, D.C., Chicago, and other cities included the design of housing, colleges, and hospitals. He was director of planning and development for Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago, 1945-1953, where Walter Gropius, planner Walter Blucher, and sociologist Louis Wirth collaborated with him as consultants. He was a United Nations expert on regional planning in South America, and a planning consultant for the Ford Foundation, the U.S. State Department, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
Recommended by Walter Gropius, Isaacs served as the Charles Dyer Norton Professor of Regional Planning at Harvard University from 1953-1978. He was also Chairman of the Graduate School of Design's Departments of City and Regional Planning as well as Landscape Architecture. Throughout his career he lectured at universities throughout the United States and in almost every country of Central and South America and in the Caribbean.
In 1962 Isaacs and Gropius began their collaboration on
Walter Gropius: The Man and his Work
, until the death of Gropius in 1969. The first volume of the biography was published in German in 1983, with the second volume following in 1984. Isaacs died of a massive heart attack in 1986, never realizing his goal to see an English-language edition which was published posthumously in 1991 by the Estate of Reginald Isaacs.
1911
Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
1935
Received Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Minnesota
1939
Received Masters of Architecture degree from Harvard University, Graduate School of Design
1947-1950
Studied sociology and planning with Louis Wirth and Rexford Guy Tugwell at the University of Chicago
1945-1953
Director of planning at Michael Reese Hospital, Chicago, Illinois
1951-1953
Guest lecturer at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design with Walter Gropius and also served a two-year term as a member of the Board of Overseers Committee to Visit the Graduate School of Design
1953-1978
Named the Charles Dyer Norton Professor of Regional Planning
1953-1964
Chairman of the Department of City and Regional Planning
1953-1958
Chairman of the Department of Landscape Architecture
1962
Began collaboration with Walter Gropius on the biography
Walter Gropius - The Man and his Work
1969
Walter Gropius dies
1983
Walter Gropius, Der Mensch und Sein Werk,
Volume 1 published by Gebr. Mann Nerlag, Berlin
1984
Walter Gropius, Der Mensch und Sein Werk,
Volume 2, published by Gebr. Mann Nerlag, Berlin
1986
Isaacs dies
1991
Walter Gropius: An Illustrated Biography of the Creator of the Bauhaus,
published by the Estate of Reginald Isaacs. The Papers of Reginald R. Isaacs donated to the Archives of American Art by his son, Henry Isaacs.
Arrangement note
The collection is arranged into fourteen series. Glass plate negatives are housed separately and closed to researchers.
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1935-1986, undated (Boxes 1, 22; 8 folders)
Series 2: Legal Material, 1976-1984, undated (Box 1; 3 folders)
Series 3: Financial Material, 1945-1969 (Box 1; 2 folders)
Series 4: Correspondence, circa 1891, 1936-1986 (Boxes 1-2; 1.5 linear feet)
Series 5: Project Files, 1948-1980, undated (Box 2, OV 23; 0.5 linear feet)
Series 6: Subject Files, 1961-circa 1982, undated (Box 3; 2 folders)
Series 7: Writings, 1940-1986, undated (Boxes 3-4, 22; 2.0 linear feet)
Series 8: Teaching Files, 1954-1973 (Boxes 4-5; 1.0 linear foot)
Series 9: Works of Art, 1965-1967, undated (Box 5, OV 23; 3 folders)
Series 10: Scrapbooks, 1929-1969 (Box 5; 2 folders)
Series 11: Printed Material, 1842-1844, 1913-1986, undated (Box 5; 0.5 linear feet)
Series 12: Photographs, 1959-1981, undated (Boxes 5, 22; 7 folders)
Series 13: Walter Gropius Biography, circa 1880s-1991, undated (Boxes 6-22, OV 23, MGP 1, MGP 2, MGP 4; 16.0 linear feet)
Series 14: Unprocessed Addition, 1974-1985 (Box 24; 1.0 linear foot)
Scope and Content Note
The papers of of architect, instructor, writer, and city planner, Reginald R. Isaacs (1911-1986) measure 22.4 linear feet and date from 1842 to 1991 with the bulk of the material dating from 1883 to 1985. The collection includes Isaacs's personal and professional papers, as well as extensive research material he collected and created for his two volume two-volume biography of Bauhaus architect, Walter Gropius:
Walter Gropius: The Man and His Work.
The bulk of Walter Gropius' papers are housed at the Busch Reisinger Museum at Harvard University, and the Bauhaus Archiv in Germany.
Series 1 to 12 contain contain biographical, legal, and financial material; personal and professional correspondence; project and subject files; writings and publications; teaching files; works of art; scrapbooks; printed material; and photographs relating to Isaacs' personal and professional career.
Series 13 forms the bulk of the collection and pertains specifically to the writing and publication of Isaacs' biography of Gropius. It contains research material, correspondence (much of it with Gropius), drafts of the manuscript, publication correspondence, photographs and illustrations, and printed material. Some of the research material, including some of the photographs and illustrations that were used in the biography, appear to have been original documents of Walter Gropius, while large portions of the material are photocopies of the originals, many of them in German.
Provenance
The bulk of the papers, 22.5 ft., donated 1991 by Henry Isaacs, Reginald Isaacs' son. An additional 1 ft., pertaining mostly to the German publication of the Gropius biography, were donated by his daughter, Merry White, in 1998, who had received them from her father. Additions are possible.
Processing Information
The collection was processed by Kym Wheeler in 1994 with funding provided in part by a grant from The Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Visual Arts. The finding aid was revised by Stephanie Ashley in 2001 prior to conversion to EAD. Glass plate negatives were re-housed in 2015 with a grant provided by the Smithsonian Collections Care and Preservation Fund. The finding aid was further updated in 2015 by Kimberley Henze.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

Reginald R. Isaacs papers, circa 1842-1991, (bulk 1883-1985). Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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