Olmsted Brothers records, 1903-1915  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Olmsted Brothers
Olmsted Brothers records
.42 cubic ft.
Collection Number
0170 (Accession No. 0170-001)
Landscape architecture firm that contributed significantly to the design of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition and the University of Washington campus.
University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections
Special Collections
University of Washington Libraries
Box 352900
Seattle, WA
Telephone: 206-543-1929
Fax: 206-543-1931
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Funding for encoding this finding aid was partially provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities

Historical NoteReturn to Top

Olmsted brothers, comprised of John C. and Federick Law Olmsted, was a nationally recognized landscape architecture firm established in 1858 by Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr. and based in Brookline, Massachusetts. Although the firm was involved in urban improvement schemes across America, one of its significant contributions was to the development of the University of Washington campus.

In the spring of 1903 the University of Washington Board of Regents asked John C. Olmsted to make a preliminary scheme of improvements to the University of Washington campus which would be "in harmony with the proposed park system of the city and which can be used to guide all important construction and planting on the University grounds for years to come."

The initial development plan presented by John Olmsted in 1904 would never be implemented fully, although aspects of his proposals were revised and used in later years. The Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, however, held in Seattle in 1909, gave impetus to the Olmsted role in campus design. The decision to locate the Exposition on the lower part of the University of Washington grounds provided new opportunities to develop the campus. Olmsted Brothers was employed by the Board of Trustees to draw up proposals for the site, which the firm was familiar with from its previous studies.

Olmsted Brothers was employed by the University of Washington again in 1911 to develop plans for campus improvement. Following various disagreements with the Board of Regents and faculty members, however, the firm's involvement with the University came to an end in 1914.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The Olmsted Brothers records, 1903-1915, are divided into two main subgroups. The first of these relates to the landscaping and development of the University of Washington in this period, and the second to the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition held in Seattle in 1909.

The first subgroup contains correspondence between Olmsted Brothers and the U.W. Board of Regents, reports and recommendations made to the Board, and notes taken by John C. Olmsted during the firm's study of the campus.

The second section contains correspondence, diary notes, speeches and writings, legal documents, cost-estimates, financial records, and clippings relating to the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition. The bulk of the records in this second subgroup date from 1906 to 1910.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

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Restrictions on Use

Copyright restrictions exist on the records in this accession, as the creator's literary rights were not transferred to the University of Washington Libraries.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top


University of WashingtonReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
General Correspondence
44 items
Diary Notes
13 items

Alaska-Yukon-Pacific ExpositionReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
General Correspondence
114 items
Diary Notes
12 items
Speeches and Writings
3 items
Legal Documents
2 items
15 items
Financial Records (Subscription to Capital Stock)
1 item
3 items
Includes galley proof.
1907, 1909

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Exhibitions--Washington (State)--Seattle
  • Landscape architectural firms--United States
  • Landscape architectural projects--Washington (State)--Seattle
  • Landscape architecture--Washington (State)
  • Universities and colleges--Washington (State)--Seattle
  • Personal Names :
  • Howard, John Galen, 1864-1931
  • Kane, Thomas Franklin, 1863-1953
  • Meany, Edmond S. (Edmond Stephen), 1862-1935
  • Smith, C. J
  • Suzzallo, Henry, 1875-1933
  • Corporate Names :
  • Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition (1909 : Seattle, Wash.)--Planning
  • Olmsted Brothers--Archives
  • Seattle (Wash.). Board of Park Commissioners
  • University of Washington. Board of Regents
  • University of Washington--Planning

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Personal Papers/Corporate Records (University of Washington)