Sara Holmes Boutelle Papers, MS 141
Scope and Content Note
This collection contains the papers of architectural historian Sara Holmes Boutelle (1909-1999), Julia Morgan's biographer, who researched and collected material on Julia Morgan for twenty-seven years. Boutelle's lecturing and writing on Morgan not only preserved important documentary evidence of Morgan's practice, but also lifted the architect from obscurity, inspiring others to study Morgan and her work. Documentary evidence of previously unknown Morgan commissions is included in this collection, along with materials documenting Morgan buildings lost to fire or demolition.
Original Julia Morgan materials found in Boutelle's papers have been processed separately as the Julia Morgan-Sara Holmes Boutelle Collection (MS 27).
In many ways, the collection is the physical manifestation of Boutelle's efforts to establish the credentials necessary to secure a book contract and publish her biography of California architect Julia Morgan, a struggle that is recounted in her article for the Brearley alumni publication entitled, "Julia Morgan: Architecture of a Biography" (Box 1 Folder 4).
The collection contains 34.5 linear feet of Boutelle's extensive correspondence, photographs, interview notes, book drafts, subject files, and visual media, research and interview notes on Morgan, her clients, colleagues, staff members and commissions, gathered by Boutelle in the course of preparing Julia Morgan, Architect (Abbeville Press, 1988, revised 1995). Additional materials in the collection include articles, book reviews, presentation notes, secondary sources, and newspaper clippings, primarily relating to Morgan, women in American architecture, and historic preservation in the Bay Area.
The Boutelle Papers are housed in 79 containers, with Series 3. Julia Morgan Building Research Files and Series 4. Julia Morgan Research Files containing the most extensive and informative portions of the collection.
When documents with multiple purposes were encountered (e.g., correspondence on Morgan commissions together with invitations to make presentations), the highest priority was given to placing materials together that document Morgan's project list.
This collection is also particularly rich in visual media, including hundreds of black-and-white and color prints and nearly 5,000 35mm transparencies of Morgan commissions as they appeared in the 1970s and 1980s. The visual media and Boutelle's accompanying notes will greatly inform the on-going process of identifying Morgan's work.
Little original organization of the papers was evident. Therefore, to facilitate access to the collection for researchers, materials were largely reorganized and refoldered to more accurately reflect their contents.
Client names and dates may differ from Boutelle's published lists and have been updated in this guide for greater accuracy.
The collection is divided into five series:
- Personal Papers, including biographical statements by Sara Holmes Boutelle, photographs of Sara Holmes Boutelle, and newspaper clippings about Sara Holmes Boutelle;
- Professional Papers, including Boutelle's correspondence with other writers and historians; awards and grants; extensive documentation of her professional memberships and her activities related to historical preservation in the Bay Area; articles for scholarly and popular publications; architectural book reviews by Boutelle; teaching and research files on women in American architecture for extension courses and public presentations; appearances by Boutelle in news media to publicize her book and in documentaries on Julia Morgan; and newspaper clippings on women in American architecture, historic preservation and American architecture in general;
- Julia Morgan Building Research Files, including Boutelle's extensive written and visual documentation of Morgan-designed projects; lists of Morgan's work arranged by client, city, job number, town and region; and research on disputed Julia Morgan projects;
- Julia Morgan Research Files, including Boutelle’s primary and secondary research into Morgan's family, friends, education, practice, staff members, and colleagues; Boutelle's advocacy of recognition for Morgan through her commercial slide show, nomination of Morgan for various posthumous honors, and work on exhibitions and walking tours.
- Julia Morgan, Architect Book Files, including Boutelle's many attempts to find a publisher, book proposals, contracts with Peregrine Smith and Abbeville, research notes, book and chapter drafts, photographs, marketing efforts, book reviews, and correspondence with readers.
All cities listed on folder headings are located in California, unless noted otherwise.