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P. M. Heffernan papers

Identifier: DM003

  • Staff Only


Series 1 is subdivided into nine subseries: Biographical files; certificates and awards; correspondence; diaries and agendas; education; financial records; home renovation and maintenance and real estate documents; programs and playbills; and travel. The first series richly documents Heffernan's personal life. The series containing P. M. Heffernan's professional papers (SERIES 2) includes a significant amount of material relating to Heffernan's professional life as professor and Director of the School of Architecture and his life as an architect in the firm of Bush-Brown, Gailey, and Heffernan.


  • 1922-1992 (bulk dates 1925-1986)
  • Majority of material found within 1925 - 1986



The primary language of this collection is English, but there are some materials in French, particularly in the correspondence.

General Physical Description note

(29 document cases, 3 oversize boxes)

Restrictions: Access

The folders in Box 23 are currently restricted; all other boxes are fully accessible.

Restrictions: Use

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


13 Linear Feet

Scope and Contents

This collection is divided into two series: SERIES 1. Personal and biographical papers; and SERIES 2. Professional papers.

SERIES 1 is further subdivided into nine subseries: Biographical files; certificates and awards; correspondence; diaries and agendas; education; financial records; home renovation and maintenance and real estate documents; programs and playbills; and travel. Series 1 richly documents Heffernan's personal life. The biographical files (Subseries 1) contain several resumes, biographical newsclippings, and a Who's Who entry, as well as an obituary. The certificates and awards files (Subseries 2) provide a clear sense of the many honors Heffernan received throughout his life. The correspondence (Subseries 3), which is often in French, contains letters to and from personal and professional contacts; personal letters include correspondence from his sister Virginia and his mother, while professional correspondents include Harold Bush-Brown and other colleagues at Tech. The diaries and agendas that Heffernan kept throughout his life (Subseries 4) provide a detailed account of his daily expenditures and often outline his daily activities and travels, either in English or in French. The files on education (Subseries 5) contain documentation on his education and early training as an architect, particularly his time at Iowa State, as well as the Lake Forest and Conde Nast fellowships and his Paris Prize years. Some of the files date back to his high school years in Ames, Iowa. The financial records (Subseries 6) include copies of most of Heffernan's tax returns dating back to the late 1930s. The home renovation documents (Subseries 7) contain details on the two renovations Heffernan undertook at the house on Fifth Street, as well as property documents relating to the Williams Street house. A large set of files containing programs and playbills (Subseries 8) documents Heffernan's interest in theater and ballet. The travel files (Subseries 9) contain travel itineraries, brochures, notes, and other materials relating to his extensive overseas travel, beginning with his travels in Europe during the late 1930s.

The series containing P. M. Heffernan's professional papers (SERIES 2) includes a significant amount of material relating to Heffernan's professional life as professor and Director of the School of Architecture. Subseries 1 documents Heffernan's administrative activities at Tech, as well as his involvement with campus planning, particularly during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Teaching materials, including several Beaux-Arts design problems Heffernan used in his teaching in addition to syllabi and class schedules, are included in the second subseries. Heffernan's work as an architect, particularly with Bush-Brown, Gailey, and Heffernan, is documented in the third subseries. A subseries of printed materials (Subseries 4), most of which are architectural periodicals, follows. The final subseries documents Heffernan's travel to and activities at professional meetings from the late 1940s to the early 1980s.

Biography of P. M. Heffernan

P. M. (Paul Malcolm) Heffernan (1909-1987) served on the faculty in the School of Architecture at Georgia Tech beginning in 1938. Succeeding Harold Bush-Brown as Director of the School in 1956, Heffernan served in that position until his retirement in 1976.

Paul Malcolm Heffernan was born in Decorah, Iowa, on January 23, 1909 to Walter A. and Laura D. (Bethuram) Heffernan. He received his schooling in Sherburn, Minnesota and Ames, Iowa. After graduating from Ames High School in 1925, he attended Iowa State University (then Iowa State College), completing the B.S. degree in Architectural Engineering in 1929. In that year, Heffernan received a summer fellowship at the Foundation for Architecture and Landscape Architecture in Lake Forest, Illinois. This was followed by a nine-month traveling fellowship in American Architecture from Conde Nast, during which he traveled throughout the United States. Returning to Iowa State, Heffernan received an M.S. in Architectural Engineering in 1931. After graduation, he became an instructor in Freehand Drawing and Elementary Design at Iowa State, where he remained for a further two years. In 1933, Heffernan entered the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. Remaining there for two years, he received a Master of Architecture degree in 1935.

In 1935, Heffernan became the recipient of the 28th Paris Prize of the Society of Beaux-Arts, which enabled him to study at the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris for three years. During this period, in addition to his studies he traveled extensively in Europe, undertaking photography and sketching in most of the major European countries. He completed his studies in Paris in 1938.

Heffernan returned to the United States in 1938 to take up a position on the faculty of the Department of Architecture (later the School of Architecture) at Georgia Tech. He remained at Tech throughout the remainder of his professional life. After Harold Bush-Brown's retirement in 1956, Heffernan became the Director of the School of Architecture, a position he held until his own retirement in 1976. In addition to his teaching and research, he became a partner in the firm of Bush-Brown, Gailey, and Heffernan, a firm made up of Tech Architecture faculty that was responsible for the design and building of many campus buildings, including the Textile Engineering Building, the Library, and the first Architecture building. He was very active in professional associations, especially the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA). He received numerous awards from these and other professional associations during his career: He was named an AIA Fellow, and he was awarded the Bronze Medal of the Georgia Association of AIA in 1982. Heffernan traveled extensively during his career as well as after his retirement, often traveling with other architects on architectural excursions. His travels included an extended trip to Japan and the Far East, several trips to Mexico, and regular journeys to Europe, during which he often revisited France.

Heffernan remained unmarried throughout his life. His sister, Virginia Heffernan Hancock, resided in Atlanta at his address beginning in the early 1940s. Initially, when Heffernan moved to Atlanta, he lived in a house on Williams Street. In the late 1940s he moved a few blocks closer to the Tech campus, to a house at 166 Fifth Street. He had the downstairs remodeled into a basement apartment, and in the early 1960s undertook a remodeling of the main part of the house. Heffernan remained in this house until his death on April 9, 1987.


The collection is divided into two series, each of which is further divided into subseries:


  1. SERIES 1. Personal and biographical papers
  2. SERIES 2. Professional papers

Other Finding Aids

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


This collection came to the Archives as part of the Georgia Tech Design Archives in 2008. General accession number: 2008.032; specific accession number: 2010.099.


Additional materials may be added to this collection in the future.

Related Materials

See also the Virginia Heffernan Hancock Papers (DM004) and the Harold Bush-Brown Papers (DM002). The College of Architecture Records (UA371) and the Facilities Department Records (UA316) also contain materials on P. M. Heffernan's professional life at Georgia Tech.

Separated Material

The visual materials in this collection (including slides, postcards, photographs, architectural drawings, and other visual materials) will be processed separately as DV003. Several artifacts, including P. M. Heffernan's academic cap and gown, have been removed to the artifacts collection.

General Physical Description note

(29 document cases, 3 oversize boxes)

Processing Information

Christine de Catanzaro, Travis Hampton, and Germaine Schanzmeyer processed these papers in March 2011.

Inventory of the P. M. Heffernan Papers, 1922-1992 (bulk dates 1925-1986)
In Progress
Christine D. de Catanzaro, Travis Hampton, Germaine Schanzmeyer
Copyright March 2011.
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