The papers of Reginald R. Isaacs measure 22.54 linear feet and date from 1842 to 1991, with the bulk of the material from 1928 to 1991. The collection includes Isaacs's personal and professional papers, as well as extensive research material he collected and created for his two-volume biography, Walter Gropius: The Man and His Work.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of of architect, instructor, writer, and city planner Reginald R. Isaacs (1911-1986) measure 22.54 linear feet and date from 1842 to 1991 with the bulk of the material dating from 1883 to 1985. The collection includes Isaacs's personal and professional papers, as well as extensive research material he collected and created for his two volume two-volume biography of Bauhaus architect, Walter Gropius: Walter Gropius: The Man and His Work. The bulk of Walter Gropius' papers are housed at the Busch Reisinger Museum at Harvard University, and the Bauhaus Archiv in Germany.
Series 1 to 12 contain contain biographical, legal, and financial material; personal and professional correspondence; project and subject files; writings and publications; teaching files; works of art; scrapbooks; printed material; and photographs relating to Isaacs' personal and professional career.
Series 13 forms the bulk of the collection and pertains specifically to the writing and publication of Isaacs' biography of Gropius. It contains research material, correspondence (much of it with Gropius), drafts of the manuscript, publication correspondence, photographs and illustrations, and printed material. Some of the research material, including some of the photographs and illustrations that were used in the biography, appear to have been original documents of Walter Gropius, while large portions of the material are photocopies of the originals, many of them in German.
The collection is arranged into fourteen series. Glass plate negatives are housed separately and closed to researchers.
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1935-1986, undated (Boxes 1, 22; 8 folders)
Series 2: Legal Material, 1976-1984, undated (Box 1; 3 folders)
Series 3: Financial Material, 1945-1969 (Box 1; 2 folders)
Series 4: Correspondence, circa 1891, 1936-1986 (Boxes 1-2; 1.5 linear feet)
Series 5: Project Files, 1948-1980, undated (Box 2, OV 23; 0.5 linear feet)
Series 6: Subject Files, 1961-circa 1982, undated (Box 3; 2 folders)
Series 7: Writings, 1940-1986, undated (Boxes 3-4, 22; 2.0 linear feet)
Series 8: Teaching Files, 1954-1973 (Boxes 4-5; 1.0 linear foot)
Series 9: Works of Art, 1965-1967, undated (Box 5, OV 23; 3 folders)
Series 10: Scrapbooks, 1929-1969 (Box 5; 2 folders)
Series 11: Printed Material, 1842-1844, 1913-1986, undated (Box 5; 0.5 linear feet)
Series 12: Photographs, 1959-1981, undated (Boxes 5, 22; 7 folders)
Series 13: Walter Gropius Biography, circa 1880s-1991, undated (Boxes 6-22, OV 23, MGP 1, MGP 2, MGP 4; 16.0 linear feet)
Series 14: Unprocessed Addition, 1974-1985 (Box 24; 1.0 linear foot)
Born in Canada in 1911, Reginald R. Isaacs began working in architectural offices at age 14, later coming under the influence of "Beaux-Arts diplomes" at the University of Minnesota and Harvard and subsequently under that of Walter Gropius at Harvard University. He later studied sociology and planning at the University of Chicago under Louis Wirth and Rexford Guy Tugwell.
Isaacs served on the staffs of city planning commissions in Minneapolis, Syracuse, and Chicago, and in the federal government in the National Youth Agency, Public Housing Authority, and Housing and Home Finance Agency. His architectural practice in Minneapolis, Washington, D.C., Chicago, and other cities included the design of housing, colleges, and hospitals. He was director of planning and development for Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago, 1945-1953, where Walter Gropius, planner Walter Blucher, and sociologist Louis Wirth collaborated with him as consultants. He was a United Nations expert on regional planning in South America, and a planning consultant for the Ford Foundation, the U.S. State Department, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
Recommended by Walter Gropius, Isaacs served as the Charles Dyer Norton Professor of Regional Planning at Harvard University from 1953-1978. He was also Chairman of the Graduate School of Design's Departments of City and Regional Planning as well as Landscape Architecture. Throughout his career he lectured at universities throughout the United States and in almost every country of Central and South America and in the Caribbean.
In 1962 Isaacs and Gropius began their collaboration on Walter Gropius: The Man and his Work, until the death of Gropius in 1969. The first volume of the biography was published in German in 1983, with the second volume following in 1984. Isaacs died of a massive heart attack in 1986, never realizing his goal to see an English-language edition which was published posthumously in 1991 by the Estate of Reginald Isaacs.
1911 -- Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
1935 -- Received Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Minnesota
1939 -- Received Masters of Architecture degree from Harvard University, Graduate School of Design
1947-1950 -- Studied sociology and planning with Louis Wirth and Rexford Guy Tugwell at the University of Chicago
1945-1953 -- Director of planning at Michael Reese Hospital, Chicago, Illinois
1951-1953 -- Guest lecturer at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design with Walter Gropius and also served a two-year term as a member of the Board of Overseers Committee to Visit the Graduate School of Design
1953-1978 -- Named the Charles Dyer Norton Professor of Regional Planning
1953-1964 -- Chairman of the Department of City and Regional Planning
1953-1958 -- Chairman of the Department of Landscape Architecture
1962 -- Began collaboration with Walter Gropius on the biography Walter Gropius - The Man and his Work
1969 -- Walter Gropius dies
1983 -- Walter Gropius, Der Mensch und Sein Werk, Volume 1 published by Gebr. Mann Nerlag, Berlin
1984 -- Walter Gropius, Der Mensch und Sein Werk, Volume 2, published by Gebr. Mann Nerlag, Berlin
1986 -- Isaacs dies
1991 -- Walter Gropius: An Illustrated Biography of the Creator of the Bauhaus, published by the Estate of Reginald Isaacs. The Papers of Reginald R. Isaacs donated to the Archives of American Art by his son, Henry Isaacs.
The collection was donated to the Archives of American Art by Henry Isaacs, son of Reginald Isaacs, in January 1991. An additional 1.0 linear foot was donated by Merry White, daughter of Reginald Isaacs, in 1997.
This collection is open for research. Use requires an appointment and is restricted to the Washington, D.C. research facility.
The papers of Reginald R. Isaacs are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights, as possessed by the donor, have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.