Historic American Buildings Survey architectural collection

Collection Type

  • Architecture





Browse Collection


This is a major repository for material generated by the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) in the 1930s. The collection includes approximately 125 complete sets of full-scale measured drawings of historic buildings throughout New England, both blueprints and some originals by Frank Chouteau Brown, who was the HABS director in Massachusetts. Structures in Massachusetts are best represented, though there are also sizable holdings for Exeter and Portsmouth, New Hampshire.Source: Guide to the Library and Archives, 23.


Descriptive Terms

historic buildings
historic houses
historic preservation
surveys (documents)
measured drawings
architectural drawings (visual works)

Physical Description

ca. 125 sets of measured drawings

Finding Aid Info

Paper finding aid available in the Library and Archives.

Collection Code


Collection Name

Historic American Buildings Survey architectural collection

Reference Code



Massachusetts (United States)
Exeter (Rockingham county, New Hampshire)
Portsmouth (Rockingham county, New Hampshire)

Record Details


Historic American Buildings Survey (Agency)
Brown, Frank Chouteau, 1876-1947 (Draftsman)

Material Type

measured drawings
architectural drawings (visual works)

Description Level


Related Items

Frank Chouteau Brown architectural collection, circa 1910-1920
Arthur C. Haskell photographic collection, 1910s-1930s
Frank Chouteau Brown's Historic American Buildings Survey architectural collection

Historical/Biographical Note

Historical/Biographical Note

"The Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) is the nation's first federal preservation program, begun in 1933 to document America's architectural heritage. Creation of the program was motivated primarily by the perceived need to mitigate the negative effects upon our history and culture of rapidly vanishing architectural resources. At the same time, important early preservation initiatives were just getting underway, such as restoration of the colonial capital at Williamsburg and the development within the National Park Service (NPS) of historical parks and National Historic Sites. Architects interested in the colonial era had previously produced drawings and photographs of historic architecture, but only on a limited, local, or regional basis. A source was needed to assist with the documentation of our architectural heritage, as well as with design and interpretation of historic resources, that was national in scope. As it was stated in the tripartite agreement between the American Institute of Architects, the Library of Congress, and the NPS that formed HABS, 'A comprehensive and continuous national survey is the logical concern of the Federal Government.' As a national survey, the HABS collection is intended to represent 'a complete resume of the builder's art.' Thus, the building selection ranges in type and style from the monumental and architect-designed to the utilitarian and vernacular, including a sampling of our nation's vast array of regionally and ethnically derived building traditions.Source: National Park Service, Historic American Buildings Survey, http://www.nps.gov/history/hdp/habs/index.htm, accessed 2009-12-14.



The collection is arranged by state and subdivided by project numbers. The published HABS catalogue should be consulted for these numbers.