Have a question? Need assistance? Use our online form to ask a librarian for help.
Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey
The Historic American Buildings Survey, Historic American Engineering Record, and Historic American Landscapes Survey (HABS/HAER/HALS - photographs, measured drawings, and/or textual information for more than 35,000 structures and sites, ca. 1933-present) can support understanding how American women interacted with the built environment.
The enterprise began with a proposal by architect Charles E. Peterson of the National Park Service to put a thousand unemployed architects to work for ten weeks documenting what he called “America's antique buildings.”
Operating under various administrative authorities for the first two years, HABS became a permanent program of the National Park Service in July 1934. In 1969 the Historic American Engineering Record began carrying out systematic documentation of engineering works and industrial sites. Continuing in the tradition of the Carnegie surveys (see Regional Architectural Surveys), the documentation covers structures used by the wealthy as well as those of more humble circumstances. Demonstrating both the range of structures surveyed and the variety of materials documenting them are:
photographs of the La Jolla Women's Club in California (HABS, CAL,37-LAJOL,1-)
drawings showing the spatial arrangements of a Shaker washhouse in Hancock, Massachusetts (HABS, MASS,2-HANC,14-)
Documentation that makes it possible to reconstruct the layout of slave quarters or a plantation schoolhouse at Thornhill Plantation, Greene County, Alabama (HABS, ALA,32-WATSO,1-)
images that help one explore the structures used by Native American inhabitants of Acoma Pueblo, New Mexico (HABS, NM, 31-ACOMP,1-)
Searching the Collection
Catalog records for HABS/HAER/HALS documentation can be searched in the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog. The collection has its own listing in PPOC.
The catalog records describe all the documentation available for a given site. They can be searched by state, county and/or local place name and, to a certain extent, by building type.
The records include links to digitized images of whatever is available: drawings, photographs, data pages, photo captions.
The catalog records themselves can often provide intriguing clues about successive uses to which buildings have been put. EXAMPLE: The former stable in Des Moines, Iowa, that was converted in 1942 for use as housing for Women's Auxiliary Army Corps volunteers. View catalog record for HABS, IOWA, 77-DESMO, 24-N-
Electronic copy available from HathiTrust External
Article: Rodris Roth, “Recording a Room: The Kitchen,” in Historic America: Buildings, Structures, and Sites Recorded by the Historic American Buildings Survey and the Historic American Engineering Record, edited by C. Ford Peatross and Alicia Stamm (Washington: Library of Congress, 1983; NA705.H53), 107-25.