Frederick Law Olmsted (1822–1903), the father of American landscape architecture, is famous for designing many well-known urban parks, including Central Park in New York City, the Emerald Necklace in Boston, Massachusetts, and Cherokee Park in Louisville, Kentucky. In addition, Olmsted designed many university campuses (Stanford), public buildings (U.S. Capitol grounds), private estates (Biltmore), and the Midway Plaisance in Chicago for the World's Columbian Exposition. He also led the campaign to protect Niagara Falls and served as Secretary of the United States Sanitary Commission (1861-1863) and Commissioner of Yosemite and Mariposa Big Tree Grove (1864-1865).
The Frederick Law Olmsted Documentary Editing Project made its home at American University from 1972 through 2006 and is ongoing. The purpose of the project is "to publish, in annotated form, the most significant of Olmsted's letters, unpublished writings, professional reports, and articles for newspapers and periodicals." The first volume (The Formative Years) was published in 1977 by Johns Hopkins University Press. Over the next four decades, under the direction of Professor Charles Capen McLaughlin and then Professor Charles E. Beveridge, seven more volumes were published.
The archives of the Frederick Law Olmsted Documentary Editing Project contain copies of Frederick Law Olmsted's correspondence, writings, and landscape plans collected from archives around the world as well as historical and contemporary photographs. The editors and project staff also compiled extensive biographical and subject files while researching information for the annotations. In addition, there are administrative files documenting the project's relationship with Johns Hopkins University Press, the editorial process, and fundraising activities including applications and reports to granting agencies. The major series in the collection are as follows:
- Chronological Letter File
- Newspaper Clippings
- Biographical File
- Administrative Files
- Research File
- Subject File
- Laura Roper Correspondence Files
Charles Capen McLaughlin Endowed Fund:
To memorialize this important documentary editing project and recognize the achievements of its founding editor, generous family and friends have donated funds towards the Charles Capen McLaughlin Endowed Fund which will support the preservation of the collection, related programming, and the ongoing work of the University Archives. For information on how you can support this collection, please contact Jennifer McMillan at (202) 885-3199.