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Harold Bush-Brown papers

Identifier: DM002

  • Staff Only


This collection contains significant material on Bush-Brown's tenure in the School of Architecture at Georgia Tech as well as the period of his retirement years, particularly the research and writing of his book, Beaux Arts to Bauhaus and Beyond: An Architect's Perspective. Family correspondence, diaries, and Bush-Brown's personal notebooks also form part of this rich collection.


  • 1872-1978 (bulk 1918-1977)
  • Majority of material found within 1918 - 1977


General Physical Description note

(21 document cases)

Restrictions: Access

Apart from isolated folders in Series 1, there are no restrictions on access.

Restrictions: Use

Permission to publish materials from this collection must be obtained from the Head of Archives and Special Collections.


8.4 Linear Feet

Scope and Contents

Series 1 of this collection, which relates to Bush-Brown's early life as well as to the families of Bush-Brown and his wife, Marjorie Conant Bush-Brown, is subdivided into three subseries. The first of these subseries contains correspondence to Harold Bush-Brown from various members of his family, including his mother, painter Margaret Lesley Bush-Brown; his father, sculptor Henry Kirke Bush-Brown; his siblings; and his wife. Much of this correspondence dates from the latter part of World War I, when Bush-Brown was serving in the U.S. Navy as an ensign and lieutenant on the submarine base in New London, Connecticut. The subjects covered in this correspondence include the wartime activities of Bush-Brown's brother Jim (who later became a landscape architect) and sister Lydia (who became an artist); the end of the war and its impact on the Bush-Brown family; and the activities of Bush-Brown's parents. Series 1, subseries 2 consists largely of financial records of Marjorie Conant Bush-Brown's relatives, most notably those of her father, James S. Conant, but also those of her brother, chemist and Harvard President James Bryant Conant; her sister, Esther Conant; and her mother, Jennet O. Conant. The datebooks of James S. Conant, in which he kept brief records of his daily activities from 1899 to 1922, are also included in this subseries. The third subseries of Series 1 contains Harold Bush-Brown's notebooks that he kept throughout his life to record drafts of correspondence and notes on readings. Once he became a professor at Georgia Tech, Bush-Brown used small notebooks to record his lecture notes (these are housed in Series 2), and during his retirement he used the notebooks to write drafts of book chapters and to make notes on marketing the book once it was published. Bush-Brown's notes from college courses and a few of his student papers are also included here.

Series 2 is made up of Bush-Brown's papers during his years at Georgia Tech, 1922 to 1957. Although much of the material relates to Bush-Brown's activities as chair of the Department of Architecture -- included are annual reports, lecture notes, notes on architectural education, faculty housing, and other administrative subjects -- there is also significant documentation of his involvement in the Harvard Club and his service as an officer in the Georgia Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Some documentation of his work for the Library of Congress' Historic American Buildings Survey, as well as some material on his architectural designs for private houses in Atlanta and buildings on the Georgia Tech campus (particularly the Architecture Building and the Aeronautics Building) also forms part of this series.

Series 3 documents Bush-Brown's service during the late 1950s and early 1960s as chairperson of the joint committee for architectural education of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture and the American Institute of Architects. The papers in this series contain correspondence, minutes of the Board of Directors, financial information, programs, proceedings, and other materials relating to the summer teaching seminars operated by this joint committee.

Series 4, which covers Bush-Brown's retirement years (mainly after his service on the ACSA/AIA committee ended in 1962), is subdivided into two subseries. The first of these contains correspondence, publications, files on his trips to Europe with his wife, and notes on the Duxbury Library and its addition, which Bush-Brown designed and built in 1968. The second subseries consists of drafts, notes, and correspondence regarding Bush-Brown's book, Beaux Arts to Bauhaus and Beyond: An Architect's Perspective, published in 1976. The various drafts included in this series document the metamorphosis of the book from a focus on the Duxbury Library to a full-blown memoir. The changing title of the drafts reflect this metamorphosis.

Biography of Harold Bush-Brown

Harold Bush-Brown (1888-1983) served as Head of the School of Architecture at the Georgia Institute of Technology from 1925 until his retirement in 1957. After retirement, for several years he became chairman of the Association of the Collegiate Schools of Architecture and American Institute of Architects Joint Committee on the Teaching of Architecture. During the last years of his life, he was mainly occupied with writing his book, Beaux Arts to Bauhaus and Beyond: An Architect's Perspective.

Harold Bush-Brown was born November 3, 1888 in Paris, the son of Henry Kirke Bush-Brown (1857-1935), a renowned sculptor, and Margaret Lesley Bush-Brown (1857-1944), a well-known portrait painter. He and his parents immigrated to the United States, settling in the outskirts of Newburgh, New York. Bush-Brown attended school at Milton Academy near his grandparents' home in Milton, Massachusetts, for two years, before returning to attend high school at Newburgh Academy. After high school he attended Harvard, where he received an A.B. degree in 1911, and in 1915 he completed the M. Arch. degree.

During the 1910s, he held various architectural positions, first with the firm of McKim, Meade, and White in New York (1910); and subsequently with Cram and Ferguson in Boston (1911-1912 and 1916). During World War I, he served as an ensign and lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, in the Public Works Office at the submarine base in New London, Connecticut, a position he held until the summer of 1920. After his military service, he worked at the architectural firm of Jackson and Moreland in Boston for two years (from 1920 to 1921).

In the fall of 1922, Bush-Brown accepted a teaching position as Assistant Professor in the Department of Architecture at Georgia Tech. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1924, and in 1925 he became Professor and Head of the Department. He held this position until 1949, when the Department of Architecture became the School of Architecture. Bush-Brown served as the first Director of the School until his retirement in May 1957. During his tenure as Head and then Director, the curriculum expanded to include options in architectural engineering (1934), industrial design (1938), and light construction industry (1945); graduate programs in city planning and a master's degree in architecture were also added in the early 1950s. As an architect, Bush-Brown also designed several private houses and Georgia Tech campus buildings with the firm of Bush-Brown and Gailey prior to World War II, and with Bush-Brown, Gailey, and Heffernan after 1945.

Before his retirement in 1957, Bush-Brown served the Georgia Chapter of the American Institute of Architects in several capacities, including service as President in 1944-1945. He was elected a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 1949. After his retirement, from 1957 to about 1962, he became chairman of the Association of the Collegiate Schools of Architecture and American Institute of Architects Joint Committee on the Teaching of Architecture. Bush-Brown and his wife settled in Duxbury, Massachusetts, after his retirement, where he became active in the local community, most notably in designing the addition to the Duxbury Free Library in 1968.

During the last few active years of his life, Bush-Brown was mainly occupied with writing his book, Beaux Arts to Bauhaus and Beyond: An Architect's Perspective, which was published by the Whitney Library of Design (Watson-Guptill Publications) in New York in 1976. Originally titled The Biography of a Building, in which Bush-Brown focused on the designing and building of the Duxbury Library, the project later expanded to become a memoir that paralleled his own professional life with the dramatic changes in the study, teaching, and practice of architecture in the twentieth century.

Harold Bush-Brown married Marjorie Conant (1885-1978) in France on August 16, 1924. Marjorie Conant Bush-Brown was a noted artist and portrait painter; among her works is a portrait of former Georgia Tech President Lyman Hall. Marjorie and Harold had one child, Richard Lyman Bush-Brown (b. 1925).

Harold Bush-Brown died on February 27, 1983 at the age of 94.

Sources: Report taken from the 50th Anniversary of the Harvard College Class of 1911; Notes on Harold Bush-Brown 1888-1957 (papers); Georgia Tech Archives Vertical Files - Harold Bush-Brown.


Arranged into four series:

Missing Title

  1. SERIES 1. Personal and family papers [Boxes 1-5]
  2. SERIES 2. Professional papers -- Georgia Tech years [Boxes 6-12]
  3. SERIES 3. ACSA/AIA R-17 Committee for Architectural Education records [Boxes 13-15]
  4. SERIES 4. Retirement years [Boxes 16-21]

Other Finding Aids

A print copy of this finding aid is available in the Georgia Tech Archives reading room.


This collection of personal papers was transferred to the Georgia Tech Archives from the College of Architecture as part of the Georgia Tech Design Archives. Accession #2010.051.

Related Materials

In this repository, see also the Historic American Buildings Survey photographs, which are available online; the Harold Bush-Brown Photograph Collection (VAC003); the College of Architecture Records (UA371). In other locations, see also the Bush-Brown Family Papers, 1835-1869 in the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts.

Separated Material

The visual materials in this collection, including slides, photographs, and architectural drawings, have been separated and will be processed as DV002.

General Physical Description note

(21 document cases)

Processing Information

Charlene Hsu Gross and Christine de Catanzaro processed these papers in June 2010.

Inventory of the Harold Bush-Brown Papers, 1872-1978 (bulk 1918-1977)
Charlene Hsu Gross, Christine de Catanzaro
Copyright June 2010.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Archives and Special Collections, Library, Georgia Institute of Technology Repository

Georgia Institute of Technology
266 4th Street, NW
Atlanta 30332-0900 USA