Press contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217
Public contact: Center for the Book (202) 707-5221

June 21, 2011

Biography of Frederick Law Olmsted Is Subject of Book Discussion

“Genius of Place” Chronicles Work of Famous Landscape Architect

Frederick Law Olmsted is best remembered for his landscape architecture, from New York’s Central Park and Boston’s Emerald Necklace to the grounds of the U.S. Capitol and the campus of Stanford University. Olmsted was also an influential journalist, an early voice for the environment and an abolitionist credited with helping dissuade England from joining the South in the Civil War.

Justin Martin will discuss and sign his new book, "Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted" (Da Capo Press, 2011), on Thursday, July 7, at noon in Dining Room A, located on the sixth floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. This event, sponsored by the Center for the Book as part of its Books & Beyond author series, is free and open to the public; no tickets are required. The Library’s Manuscript Division, where Martin did much of his research, is co-sponsoring this program.

In "Genius of Place," Martin also details how Olmsted’s momentous career was shadowed by a tragic personal life. More than anything, according to Martin, Olmsted was a social reformer. He didn’t simply create places that were beautiful in the abstract; a timeless intent stands behind Olmsted’s designs, allowing his work to survive to the present day.

The Manuscript Division holds three important collections for Olmsted researchers: the papers of pioneer landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted (24,000 items), the papers of his first biographer, Laura Wood Roper (2,280 items), and the records of his family firm, the Olmsted Associates (170,000 items). "These are the prime sources for Olmsted research," said Alice Birney, a curator in the division.

Martin is a former staff writer at Fortune magazine, and his articles have appeared in publications including Newsweek, Money and the San Francisco Chronicle.

Martin’s book is also the subject of a discussion on Facebook. The new Books & Beyond Book Club is available at Here readers can discuss books, the authors of which have appeared or will appear in this series. The site also offers links to webcasts of these events and asks readers to talk about what they have seen and heard.

Since its creation by Congress in 1977 to "stimulate public interest in books and reading," the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress ( has become a major national force for reading and literacy promotion. A public-private partnership, it sponsors educational programs that reach readers of all ages, nationally and internationally. The center provides leadership for 52 affiliated state centers for the book (including the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands) and nonprofit reading-promotion partners and plays a key role in the Library’s annual National Book Festival. It also oversees the Library’s website and administers the Library’s Young Readers Center.

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PR 11-122
ISSN 0731-3527

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