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Finding Architectural Documentation Online: Selected Listings of Research Guides, Archival Resources, and Scholarly Articles & Dissertations


Research Guides describe multiple sources, overviews, and also search strategies.

Image Sources for the Built Environment External link
Environmental Design Library
University of California at Berkeley

The site includes guidance for forming a search strategy in concert with identifying sources for architectural drawings and images. Especially notable is the Repositories of Primary Resources, which lists a great number of archives by geographic area.

In addition, the Environmental Design Library External link offers over 50 Guides to a broad variety of architecture, design and planning-related topics including American Architecture, History of Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and many more.

Architecture Links on the World Wide Web External link
Art on the Web
Boston College

Initially created before the advent of effective search engines, the compilation provides general links, link lists, surveys, guides, and image archives.

Architecture Research Guide External link
University Libraries
Carnegie Mellon University

Includes article databases, reference resources, and research collections of interest. Noteworthy for the links to research under Fundamentals (which includes image dabatases), Buildings and Their Architects, and Historical Research (which lists architectural archives).

Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library External link
Columbia University

Focused on the architectural holdings at Avery. "Related Holdings in Other Institutions" provides an alphabetical listing of other archives with major holdings related to Avery's holdings of prominent architects.

Built Works Registry External link
A joint endeavor between Avery Library, Columbia University; Artstor; and the Getty Research Institute

The Registry is a collaborative, community-generated resource aimed at creating and developing a freely available registry of architectural works. Starting with a dataset of 70,000 openly accessible and sharable records, BWR will develop tools and methods for building and sharing resources for documentation and retrieval for structures fitting within the scope of "the built environment." Over time, BWR will strive to create a fully-integrated and inclusive built works authority file -- a significant resource for architectural research and study.

Pacific Coast Architecture Database External link
University of Washington, Seattle

An online research guide to the builders and architects of California, Oregon, and Washington. Includes a modest amount of digital images, some with more extensive cataloging and rights information. Over 19,000 structures listed; over 6,000 architects listed, some extremely briefly, others with biographical information, occupation, and website links.

The Society of Architectural Historians External link

The SAH promotes the study, interpretation, and conservation of architecture, design, landscapes, and urbanism worldwide. The listings of Digital Resources links to some 110 sites in categories including Archives/Repositories, Image Collections, Architects, and Regional Resources. The more general online information is publicly accessible while publications and other SAH-produced resources are limited to SAH members.


Archival Collections describes sources for locating architectural drawings and the collected papers of prominent architects and firms.

ArchiveGrid External link
Columbus, OH

ArchiveGrid offers over four million records describing archival materials, with information about historical documents, personal papers, and family histories. Over 1,000 different archival institutions are represented. ArchiveGrid helps researchers looking for primary source materials held in archives, libraries, museums and historical societies.

National Union List of Architectural Records (NUIAR)/ Cooperative Preservation of Architectural Records (COPAR) [PDF - 11.4 MB]
Library of Congress/COPAR

The NUIAR, a project of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division with the group COPAR, is an index to architectural drawings held by institutions across the country. It was compiled by the Cooperative Preservation of Architectural Records (COPAR) between 1974-1986. This attempt to index the architectural drawings held nationwide is an effort comparable to that of the National Union Index of Manuscript Collections for manuscript holdings. The bulk of the entries in the Index were drawn from the many publications on architectural holdings published in the 1980s, such as "Architectural Research Materials in the District of Columbia" (AIA Foundation, 1983.) The compilation of such information into one index greatly improved access to architectural records. Although work on the Index ceased in 1986, its value as a research tool is still recognized by current researchers.

National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections (NUCMC)
Manuscript Division
Library of Congress

NUCMC's goal is to describe archival and manuscript collections held by repositories in the U.S. It provides free searching, via NUCMC gateways, of archival and manuscript cataloging in OCLC WorldCat. Architectural papers and visual materials such as sketchbooks can be part of the collections described.

Electronic Databases on the subject of Art & Architecture are available within the Library of Congress.
In particular, the staff recommends:
Archive Finder [via ProQuest]

A resource tool and source for papers and primary resources, including those of architects. It includes the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections (NUCMC), the Library of Congress database. This current directory covers over 5,750 repositories and over 220,000 collections of primary source material housed across the United States and the United Kingdom.


Scholarly Articles & Dissertations describes resources for locating published articles and doctoral dissertations on architectural history topics.

[Note: The first two databases are accessible to researchers within Library of Congress buildings only.]

Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals

Index of journal articles published worldwide on architecture and design, archaeology, city planning, interior design, and historic preservation. International, scholarly, and popular literature from more than 2,500 journals. Hosted by EBSCO.

Dissertations and Theses Full Text Global [via ProQuest]

Index of doctoral dissertations and master's theses, with coverage from 1861 to the present. This is the official digital dissertations archive of the Library of Congress. Those published from 1980 to present include abstracts, and many of those published since the 1990s are available in full text (PDF digital format) along with 24-page previews.

Two related compilations of dissertations on American architectural history are available at the Library of Congress:

Goode's Bibliography: Doctoral Dissertations relating to American Architectural History, 1897-1995 compiled by James M. Goode. 2nd ed. Chicago: Distributed by Society of Architectural Historians, 1995. LC call number: Z5944 .U5 G64 1995

A substantive bibliography, in print form, which provides a synopsis of each entry. Indexed by author, institution, and subject.

Dissertations Underway and Recently Completed Dissertations (since 1994) on Architecture External link

Not comprehensive, and no longer maintained as of March 2008, this compilation of dissertations related to architectural history follows where Goode left off, covering the period from 1994-2008.

The DesignInform Database External link

This database includes Design Abstracts Retrospective, Design ProFILES and ReVIEW. Its focus is architecture and decorative arts journals published between 1880 and 1940. A useful link is to Guide no. 1: Internet Sources of Biographical Information, for architects and design people.

Web of Science External link

Web of Science, from Thomson Reuters, is a multidisciplinary database that combines Science Citation Index, Social Sciences Citation Index, and Arts & Humanities Citation Index. Major journals across more than 200 disciplines, published from 2002 to the present, are indexed. Coverage includes: the sciences (more than 6000 journals); social sciences (approximately 1800 journals); and, the arts and humanities (approximately 1100 journals). Web of Science provides complete bibliographic data, searchable author abstracts, and cited references.

Prepared by: Marilyn Ibach, Reference Specialist, February 2016.

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  March 28, 2022
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