Finding current architects | Researching past architects and buildings | Architectural archives | Biographical directories and databases | AIA Component histories | Organizations concerned with historic architecture
Finding current architects
To find out if an architect is still practicing, look to see whether the architect has a current license in the state where his/her office is located. Most states have online sites where the public can check that a professional holds a current license from that state. An internet search for the state name plus the words architect license verification will help you find the state’s site. Some states show licenses that are inactive due to retirement or death, while other states show only current license holders.
Researching past architects and buildings
· Resources for researching historic buildings and architects vary in different localities. There are a number of excellent research guides online that will help you get started.
Finding Information on Buildings and Places, Environmental Design Library, University of California at Berkeley (emphasizes the Bay Area, but is a good overview for new researchers of what types of sources may answer what questions)
New York City Buildings: Research Guide, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University
Researching Historic Washington, D.C. Buildings, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division
How to Research a San Francisco Building, San Francisco Public Library
Pittsburgh Architecture: A Guide to Research, Carnegie Mellon University Architectural Archives
Drafting a House History, Northwest Architectural Archives, University of Minnesota
Documenting the History of Your House, Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University
Research Resources: Architecture and Building History, Chicago History Museum
How to Research Your Historic Virginia Property, Virginia Department of Historic Resources
Architecture and Building: Resources by Topic, Architecture Studies Library, University of Nevada, Las Vegas (very comprehensive)
· There are several specialized indexes to articles in architectural magazines. The most comprehensive is the Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals, which indexes citations to articles from the 19th century to the present. These indexes are available through libraries which subscribe to them.
· Local history collections in libraries, museums, or historical societies can help you find information in newspapers, city directories, local government records, books on the architecture of the area, and many other resources. Repositories of Primary Sources is a site with links to special collections repositories organized by state that can help you find local history collections in your area.
· If you are researching an architect who already has a historic building listed in the National Register of Historic Places, in the National Historic Landmarks Program, or similar state programs, request a copy of the nomination form for the building. It should contain research already done about that architect, with sources noted.
Architectural archives (by state)
Repositories that collect architects’ drawings and papers, and may collect information about architects. Most have a particular geographic or subject focus. Go to list
Biographical directories and databases (by state)
Online databases or published books that compile biographical information about architects. Most have a geographic focus. Go to list
AIA Component histories (by state) Go to list
Organizations concerned with historic architecture
At the national level:
Society of Architectural Historians (SAH) – also has local chapters
AIA Historic Resources Committee – also exists within local AIA components
National Trust for Historic Preservation
Docomomo US (Documentation and Conservation of buildings, sites, and neighborhoods of the Modern Movement)
ICAM (International Confederation of Architectural Museums)
Society of American Archivists Architectural Records Roundtable
At the state and local level, there are many preservation organizations and historic societies that devote their efforts to preserving the best of our built environment. A good place to start is at the State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPOs). The SHPO web sites usually have links to preservation groups in the state.