About the WPA Historic American Buildings Survey
The Works Projects Administration (WPA) was created under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal program in 1935. It was designed to provide relief for the nation’s unemployed through public work programs and was responsible for employing an average of 2.1 million people a year from 1935 to 1941. The Historic American Buildings Survey of New Hampshire was one of the WPA’s many projects that compiled information of historical significance. Carried out between 1933 and 1939, it was supervised by Professor Eric T. Huddleston, Chairman of the Department of Architecture at the University of New Hampshire, and Eugene W. Clark, who was Deputy Officer (also referred to as “Historian, Region One”) for the National Park Service. The project was intended to provide work for unemployed architects, to give them experience in the field and get them started in the profession.
Approximately twenty-five architecture students and graduates took part in the project; most, if not all, were connected with U.N.H. The architect Frank Chouteau Brown of Boston, Massachusetts, was associated with the project in the capacity of Division Chief for New England, Works Progress Administration, but Mr. Clark is remembered as the technically knowledgeable architectural historian and documentary researcher on the project, described by Everett R. Munson (one of the draftsmen) as a “Renaissance man.” Most of the names and lettering on the drawings were done by Dorinda Hinckley (Jarest).
Structures to be recorded were selected by Eric Huddleston and Eugene Clark, based on criteria set by Charles E. Peterson, who initiated the national survey. In general, structures selected were considered to be threatened and to be significant in early American architecture, industry or history. Peterson was responsible for recording types of structures not usually included in architectural history at the time.
About the Historic American Buildings Survey of New Hampshire Collection
The Historic American Buildings Survey of New Hampshire Collection contains copies of deeds, wills, probate records, and descriptions of historic NH buildings primarily in Dover, Durham, Exeter, and Portsmouth. Also included are survey reports, worksheets, architectural measured drawings, and an extensive collection of photographs. The New Hampshire State Historic Preservation Office in Concord has copies of most of the H.A.B.S. plans and photographs for the state (P.O. Box 2043; Concord, NH 03302-2043; (603)271-3483), including those done after 1939.
Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth, NH, has H.A.B.S. photographs of buildings in or near the museum: NH-81, 83-85, 88-89, 91, 93-105, 107, 108, including the Old State House (NH-98; building in storage at N.H. State Historic Preservation Office) and the South Meeting House (NH-105). It also has the H.A.B.S. drawings of the John Clark House in the museum (NH-85), John Hardy’s Small House in Kensington (NH-48), and some Maine structures including the McIntire Garrison House in York (ME-9), Fort Western in Augusta (ME-56; partial set), York County Gaol in York (ME-127), and the William Pepperrell House in Kittery Point (ME-128).
Copies of all H.A.B.S. drawings and photographs can be obtained from the Library of Congress; Washington, D.C. 20540 (202–207-6399: Prints and Photographs Division) and also searched online. Additional information concerning H.A.B.S. can be found in Box 8, Folder 22.
- Giffen, Daniel H. “Historic American Buildings Survey Catalog: Merrimack and Hillsborough Counties, New Hampshire.” Historical New Hampshire 22, no.3 (Autumn, 1967), 2-.
- Historic America: Buildings, Structures, and Sites Recorded by the Historic American Buildings Survey and the Historic American Engineering Record. Alicia Stamm, compiler of check-list; C. Ford Peatross, editor of essays. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1983.
- Hosmer, Charles B. Preservation Comes of Age: From Williamsburg to the National Trust, 1926-1949. 2 vols. Charlottesville : Published for the Preservation Press, National Trust for Historic Preservation in the United States by the University Press of Virginia, 1981. On H.A.B.S.: Vol.1, pp. 547-562.
- Massey, James C., and others. Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record: An Annotated Bibliography. [Washington, D.C.?]: U.S. Department of the Interior, 1992.
- “New Hampshire Catalogue, Historic American Buildings Survey, Records in the Library of Congress.” Historical New Hampshire 18, no.2 (October, 1963), 1-17.
The WPA Historic American Buildings Collection was originally processed in 1978. At that time the Special Collections department created a folder-level inventory of the collection as well as a comprehensive index of person and place names. In reboxing the collection, a new numbering sequence has been employed to reflect the new Hollinger box order; however, this new sequence has been made to correspond with the index. Documents and photographs are housed in the Hollinger boxes; drawings are housed separately in four oversize boxes, arranged by New Hampshire (NH) survey number. The survey number is also used to arrange the photographs. Where structures in the survey are specifically mentioned in the folder level inventory, they are followed by the survey number–”1/4 NEWINGTON. Newington Parsonage. (NH-19),” for example. Thus, to an extent, the documents, drawings and photographs are cross-referenced.
- Descriptions and Histories (Boxes 1-8)
- Photographs of Buildings (Boxes 9-15)
- Drawings (Oversize Boxes 1-4)
- APPENDIX. Index of Names of People and Places