Guide to the Hartley Burr Alexander Projects Collection

Guide prepared by Kenneth W. Homsley for History Associates Incorporated.
Ella Strong Denison Library
Scripps College
1090 Columbia Avenue
Claremont, California 91711
Phone: (909) 607-3941
Fax: (909) 607 1548
Email: denison@libraries.claremont.edu
September 10, 2005


Administrative Summary

Title: Hartley Burr Alexander Projects
Creator: Alexander, Hartley Burr
Dates: 1929-1933
Date (bulk): (bulk 1930-1933)
Quantity: 2.5 cubic feet
Repository: Claremont Colleges. Library.
1090 Columbia Avenue
Claremont, California 91711
Abstract: The Hartley Burr Alexander Projects Collection contains correspondence, newspaper clippings, photographs, architectural drawings, architectural blueprints, and materials documenting his work as an inscription designer. His construction projects include the Los Angeles Public Library, the Department of Justice building in Washington, D.C., and Rockefeller center in New York City. The collection covers the years 1929 to 1934 with the bulk of the material ranging from 1930 to 1933.
Collection Number: D1943.2
Physical Location: Ella Strong Denison Library
Language: English

Administrative Information

Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research with permission from Ella Strong Denison Library staff.

Publication Rights

Property rights reside with Scripps College. Literary rights are retained by the creators of the records and their heirs. For permissions to reproduce or to publish, please contact Ella Strong Denison Library staff.

Related Materials at Ella Strong Denison Library

Title: Hartley Burr Alexander Papers next hit ,
Date: 1897-2000

Separated Materials

Oversize material is located in oversize box numbers 1 and 2.

Preferred Citation

Hartley Burr Alexander Projects Collection. Ella Strong Denison Library, Scripps College, Claremont, California.

Processing Information

Preliminary arrangement by library staff. Processed by History Associates Incorporated, 2005

Accruals

No addition to the collection is anticipated.

Other Finding Aids

Title: previous hit Hartley Burr Alexander Papers ,
Date: 1897-2000

Biography of Hartley Burr Alexander

Hartley Burr Alexander (1873-1939), educator, author, poet, philosopher, was born on April 9, 1873 in Lincoln, Nebraska and raised in Syracuse, Nebraska by his father, George Sherman Alexander, a self-educated Methodist Minister from Massachusetts, and his artist-stepmother, Susan Godding Alexander. His mother, Abbey Gifford Smith Alexander died when he was three. After graduating from Syracuse High School, Alexander attended the University of Nebraska, graduating in 1897 with an A.B. degree. Alexander began his teaching career in the English Department before accepting the Harrison Fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania (1898-1900). He then transferred to Columbia University where he received his Doctor of Philosophy in 1901. In 1908 he accepted a position teaching philosophy at the University of Nebraska (1908-1927), after which he became Professor of Philosophy at Scripps College in Claremont, California.
Hartley Burr Alexander’s interests in philosophy, anthropology, and the arts synthesized with his interest in architecture. Many of Alexander’s thoughts have been cut into stone in the form of inscriptions and symbolic programs in several monuments of American architecture throughout the United States. The most notable are those he created for the Nebraska State Capitol in 1925, Memorial Stadium at the University of Nebraska, Rockefeller Center in New York City, Bertram Goodhue’s Los Angeles Public Library, and several buildings at the 1933 Century of Progress Exhibition in Chicago.
Alexander’s interest in designing architectural inscriptions began in the 1920’s. In 1919 it had been decided that a new capitol should be built in Lincoln, Nebraska. Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue was selected, and construction began in 1922. Goodhue’s design – Roman chariots prancing on a roof – so offended Alexander’s sense of what was appropriate for Nebraska that he wrote Goodhue with suggestions of more appropriate art. Goodhue was so impressed that he hired Alexander on the spot to direct the artwork and write the inscriptions for the building. It was during his work on the capitol that Alexander first worked with the tile designer Hildreth Meiere, and the sculptor Lee Lawrie. Alexander later worked with both Meiere and Lawrie on other Goodhue buildings, such as the Los Angeles Public Library; the Fidelity Mutual Insurance Building in Philadelphia; Pennsylvania State Finance Building, Chicago Century of Progress Exhibition; the City Hall and Courthouse in St. Paul, the Department of Justice Building in Washington, D.C.; the Joslyn Memorial Building in Omaha, Rockefeller Center; and others.
Several works were written by Alexander concerning his work on the Nebraska State Capitol building, such as “Nebraska’s Monumental Capitol” in Western Architect, 1923; “Lee Lawrie’s Sculptures” in Nebraska State Journal, 1923; “The Nebraska Capitol” in Goodhue Memorial Volume published by the American Institute of Architects, 1925; and Nebraska State Capitol: Synopsis of Decorations and Inscriptions, State Capitol Commission, 1926.
Alexander also worked on the inscriptions for the Ellen Phillips Samuel Memorial, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; the Joslyn Memorial Building, Omaha, Nebraska; and the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Home Office Building, Ottawa, Canada.
Alexander died at his home in Claremont in 1939 at the age of 66. The memorial service was held in Balch Hall Auditorium at Scripps College on July 29. Scripps College honored him posthumously with the establishment of the Hartley Burr Alexander Professorship in the Humanities.

Chronology

1873 Born on April 9 in Lincoln, Nebraska
1897 Graduated from the University of Nebraska with an A.B. degree.
1898-1900 Taught English at the University of Nebraska
1901 Received his Doctor of Philosophy from Columbia University
1908-1927 Taught philosophy at the University of Nebraska
1922 Began designing architectural descriptions for Nebraska State Capitol building
1924-1931 Designed architectural inscriptions for the Los Angeles Public Library, Los Angeles, California
1926-1932 Designed architectural inscriptions for the Fidelity Mutual Life Insurance Company Building, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1927-1933 Designed architectural inscriptions for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Home Office Building in Ottawa, Canada
1929-1932 Designed architectural inscriptions for the Joslyn Memorial Building in Omaha, Nebraska
1930-1933 Designed architectural inscriptions for the Century of Progress Exhibition in Chicago Illinois
1931-1933 Designed architectural inscriptions for the Rockefeller Center in New York, New York
1932-1934 Designed architectural inscriptions for the Ellen Phillips Samuel Memorial in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1932-1935 Designed architectural inscriptions for the Department of Justice in Washington D.C.
1939 Died at his home in Claremont, CA. at the age of 66

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Hartley Burr Alexander Projects Collection contains correspondence, newspaper clippings, photographs, architectural drawings, architectural blueprints, and materials documenting Hartley Burr Alexander’s work as an inscription designer. His inscription projects included the Los Angeles Public Library, the Department of Justice building in Washington, D.C., and Rockefeller Center in New York City. The collection covers the years 1929 to 1934 with the bulk of the material ranging from 1930 to 1933.
The largest series in this collection are Series 1, Los Angeles Public Library, and Series 2, Century of Progress Exhibition.
The collection is organized into eight series:
  • Series 1. Los Angeles Public Library, Los Angeles, California, 1924-1931
  • Series 2. Century of Progress Exhibition, Chicago. Illinois, 1930-1933
  • Series 3. Department of Justice Building, Washington, D.C., 1932-1934
  • Series 4. Ellen Phillips Samuel Memorial, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1932-1935
  • Series 5. Joslyn Memorial Building, Omaha, Nebraska Series, 1929-1932
  • Series 6. Fidelity Mutual Life Insurance Company Building, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1926-1932
  • Series 7. Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Home Office Building, Ottawa, Canada, 1931-1935
  • Series 8. Rockefeller Center, New York, New York, 1927-1933

Index Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.

Subjects:

Alexander, Hartley Burr, 1873-1939
Scripps College (Claremont, Calif.)--Archival resources.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Genres and Forms of Materials

Blueprints
Correspondence.
Photographs.
Sketches


Collection Contents

 

Series 1 Los Angeles Public Library, Los Angeles, California, 1924-1931

Physical Description: .5 cubic feet

Scope and Content Note

This series contains correspondence, photographs, publications, reports, and a synopsis, all of which detail the sculptural decorations and inscriptions created for the Los Angeles Public Library.
This series is arranged alphabetically by subject.
Box 1, Folder 1

Book Cover

Box 1, Folder 2

Booklet, “Dedicatory Exercises of the Central Library Building," July 15, 1926

Box 1, Folder 3

Correspondence, 1924-1926

Box 1, Folder 4

Photographs, [1924-1931]

Box 1, Folder 4

General, [1924=1931]

Box 1, Folder 5

Children’s Entrance and Court, [1924-1931]

Box 1, Folder 6

Interiors, [1924-1931]

Box 1, Folder 7

North Façade, [1924-1931]

Box 1, Folder 8

Tower Sculpture, [1924-1931]

Box 1, Folder 9

West Entrance, [1924-1931]

Box 1, Folder 10

West Façade, [1924-1931]

Box 1, Folder 11-12

Publications, 1927-1931

Box 1, Folder 11

“Like Stepping Into a Story Book’” Library Bureau, 1927

Box 1, Folder 12

“The Sculpture of Lee Lawrie,” Architectural Forum, May 1931

Box 1, Folder 13

Publicity, 1926-1933, undated

Box 1, Folder 14

Sculpture and Inscription Information, [1924-1931]

Box 1, Folder 15

Thematic Synopsis of the Sculpture and Inscriptions, [192-]

 

Series 2 Century of Progress Exhibition, Chicago Illinois, 1930-1933

Physical Description: .5 cubic feet

Scope and Content Note

This series contains correspondence, building layouts, exhibition area and grounds layout information, pamphlets, and photographs of buildings and models for the 1933 Century of Progress Exhibition in Chicago. The correspondence in this series primarily discusses the symbolic and decorative features for buildings and landscaping areas designed for the Century of Progress Exhibition.
This series is arranged alphabetically by subject.
Box 2, Folder 1

Architectural Blueprints and Drawings, 1933

Box 2, Folder 2

Book Cover, 1933

Box 2, Folder 3

Correspondence, Oct. 2, 1930-Oct. 26, 1932

Box 2, Folder 4

Invitation to Opening Ceremony, 1933

Box 2, Folder 5-6

Layouts, 1930-1933

Box 2, Folder 5

Electricity Building Layout, 1930

Box 2, Folder 6

Exhibition Area Layout, The Hall of Science, 1933

Box 2, Folder 7

Pamphlets, 1933

Box 2, Folder 8-9

Photographs, 1931-1933

Box 2, Folder 10

Schedule of Special Features for the Exposition Grounds, 1933

Box 2, Folder 11

Synopses, Structures and Features, undated

 

Series 3 Department of Justice, Washington D.C., 1932-1935

Physical Description: .25 cubic feet

Scope and Content Note

This series contains both correspondence and photographs detailing the symbolic decorative and inscription features created for the Department of Justice building in Washington D.C. The correspondence in this series is primarily between Hartley Burr Alexander, sculptor C.P. Jennewein, and the architects Zantzinger, Borie, & Medary. Several drawings, and photographs sent to Dr. Alexander by C.P. Jennewein, remain attached to the original letters with which the photograph was sent.
This series is arranged alphabetically by subject.
Box 3, Folder 1

Correspondence, 1932-1935

Box 3, Folder 2-6

Photographs, [1932-1935]

Box 3, Folder 2

General, [1932-1935]

Box 3, Folder 3

Attorney General’s and Soliciter General’s Suites, [1932-1935]

Box 3, Folder 4

Entrance Court, [1932-1935]

Box 3, Folder 5

Interiors, [1932-1935]

Box 3, Folder 6

Library Lobby, [1932-1935]

 

Series 4 Ellen Phillips Samuel Memorial, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1932-1934

Physical Description: .25 cubic feet

Scope and Content Note

This series contains correspondence, photographs, and a synopsis of the sculpture and inscriptions created for the Ellen Samuel Memorial in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The correspondence file in this series contains letters to and from architect Paul Cret, and the architectural firm Zantzinger, Borie, & Medary, which discusses the symbolic decorative and inscription features for the memorial.
This series is arranged alphabetically by subject.
Box 3, Folder 7

Annual Report, Fairmount Park Association 62nd Annual Report, Publication No.73, 1934

Box 3, Folder 8

Correspondence, 1932-1934

Box 3, Folder 9

Invitation, Fairmount Park Art Association Annual Meeting, 1934

Box 3, Folder 10

Photographs, [1932-1934]

Box 3, Folder 11

Synopses, Synopsis of the Sculpture and Inscriptions, 1932

 

Series 5 Joslyn Memorial Building, Omaha, Nebraska, 1929-1932

Physical Description: .25 cubic feet

Scope and Content Note

This series contains a booklet, correspondence, inscription information, photographs, and newspaper clippings concerning the sculptures and inscriptions created for the Joslyn Memorial Building in Omaha, Nebraska. The correspondence contains letters to and from Hartley Burr Alexander, architects John and Alan McDonald, and sculptor John David Brcin, who created the sculpture decorations for the building. Many of the letters contain detailed information concerning the design of the sculptures. The newspaper clippings, located in the publicity folder, also contain detailed information concerning both the sculptures, and the inscriptions.
This series is arranged alphabetically by subject.
Box 4, Folder 1

Booklet, “The Kaleidescope,” Kantuck and Company, Inc., 1932

Box 4, Folder 2-4

Correspondence, 1929-1932

Box 4, Folder 5

Inscriptions, [1929-1932]

Box 4, Folder 6

Photographs, undated

Box 4, Folder 7

Publicity (Newspaper Clippings), [1930]

 

Series 6 Fidelity Mutual Life Insurance Company Building, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1926-1932

Physical Description: .4 cubic feet

Scope and Content Note

This series contains correspondence, a pamphlet, photographs, and a synopsis of the decorations and inscriptions created for the Fidelity Mutual Life Insurance Company building in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The correspondence in this series primarily discusses the symbolism of the exterior of the building and the re-arrangement of inscriptions over the great arches.
This series is arranged alphabetically by subject.
Box 4, Folder 8

Book Cover

Box 4, Folder 9

Correspondence, 1926-1932

Box 4, Folder 10

Pamphlet, “A Substantial New Building for a Substantial Old Company,” Fidelity Mutual Life Insurance Company, 1927

Box 4, Folder 11-17

Photographs, [1926-1932]

Box 4, Folder 11

General, [1926-1932]

Box 4, Folder 12

Archway Grill Ornaments, [1926-1932]

Box 4, Folder 13

Engraved Figures, [1926-1932]

Box 4, Folder 14

Geometric Ornament, [1926-1932]

Box 4, Folder 15

Façade Ornament, [1926-1932]

Box 4, Folder 16

Symbolic Ornament, [1926-1932]

Box 4, Folder 17

Decorations and Inscriptions, [1926-1932]

 

Series 7 Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Home Office Building, Ottawa, Canada, 1927-1933

Physical Description: .25 cubic feet

Scope and Content Note

This series contains correspondence, floor plans, photographs and synopses’ of the symbolic decorations and inscriptions created for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Home Office Building in Ottawa, Canada.
This series is arranged alphabetically by subject.
Box 5, Folder 1-4

Correspondence, 1929-1934

Box 5, Folder 5

Floor plans, 1931

Box 5, Folder 6

“The Last Architecture,” by Hartley Burr Alexander, 1930

Box 5, Folder 7

Other Architectural Structures, 1930

Box 5, Folder 8

Photographs, [1929-1933]

Box 5, Folder 9

Synopses, “Description of Allegorical Mosaic Decoration Designed by the Artist Barry Faulkner for the Vaulted Ceiling of the Entrance Vestibule,” 1927

Box 5, Folder 10

Synopses, “Synopsis of Decoration for the New Home Office Building, Metropolitan Life Insurance Building,” [1929-1933]

 

Series 8 Rockefeller Center, New York, New York, 1931-1933

Physical Description: .25 cubic feet

Scope and Content Note

This series contains correspondence, photographs, magazine articles, newspaper clippings, and the thematic synopsis for Rockefeller Center. The correspondence in this series primarily discusses the architectural decorations and symbolism used in the design of Rockefeller City, or Radio City. Contained within the correspondence are several drafts of the thematic synopsis. A copy, possibly the final draft, is housed separately. A series of articles published in Architectural Forum by the architects for Rockefeller City, along with an article published in Harpers Monthly Magazine, discuss the architectural design of Rockefeller City.
This series is arranged alphabetically by subject.
Box 5, Folder 11

Book Cover

Box 5, Folder 12

Correspondence, 1930-1931

Box 5, Folder 13

Photographs, undated

Box 5, Folder 14-18

Publications

Box 5, Folder 14

Allen, Frederick Lewis, “Radio City: Cultural Center,” Harpers Monthly Magazine, [193-]

Box 5, Folder 15

Clute, Eugene, “The Story of Rockefeller Center,” The Architectural Forum, [1932]

Box 5, Folder 16

Harrison, Wallace K., “Drafting Room Practice,” The Architectural Forum, Vol. :VI, No. 1, Jan. 1932

Box 5, Folder 17

Hood, Raymond, “The Design of Rockefeller City,” The Architectural Forum, Vol. LVI, No. 1, Jan. 1932

Box 5, Folder 18

Reinhard, L. Andrew, “Organization for Cooperation,” The Architectural Forum, Vol. LVI, No. 1, Jan. 1932

Box 5, Folder 19

Publicity, 1931-1933

Box 5, Folder 20

Synopses, “Thematic Synopsis for Rockefeller City,” [1931-1933]