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Arlene Hausman

Architectural Records Guide to Chicago, Cook County and Vicinity

        Chicago is, and has been since it’s founding, one of the preeminent cities in the world for architecture.  It is the American birthplace of the modern skyscraper and the Prairie and International styles, to name a few.  Chicago is host to many innovative and new building technologies: Balloon frame construction (1832) and current new technology, such as the exterior laser cleaning of historic buildings. The architecture and construction of Chicago has international, national, regional, and local importance as a place.

            In 1981, Kathleen Roy Cummings wrote Architectural Records in Chicago: A Guide to Architectural Research Resources in Cook County and Vicinity, published by The Burnham Library of Architecture, the Art Institute of Chicago.  The book is out of print and out of date, yet demand for this information is growing, and requests continue for hard copies of the book.

            In the last 24 years, much has changed in the archives and collections of institutions and businesses in Chicago.  The need for a new survey, combined with the easy access of the Internet, provides a new way to deliver this updated information.  The broad based finding guide will include all aspects of the built environment pertaining to the Chicago area.  There will be three broad categories: form/object (site, building, landscape, structure or object); subject (architect, developer, manufacturer, technology developer, etc.); and type of record (written, blueprint, photograph, etc.).

         The database will be located on the website of The Burnham Library of Architecture, the Art Institute of Chicago.  The focus of Architectural Records Guide to Chicago, Cook County and Vicinity will be to aid researchers, architectural historians, librarians, architects, contractors, developers, government employees—anyone with an interest in historic Chicago architecture and historic preservation—to quickly locate available records.  This will be a guide to allow public access to their archives and records.  The nature of this project will allow for expansion and updating.  In addition, a written report on the process of this project will be compiled.



           Arlene Hausman received her BFA in Communication Design from Parsons School of Design in 1975.  After graduation, Arlene specialized in corporate identity programs for businesses and corporations, predominately for broadcast communications companies.  While at SAIC, Arlene worked for the National Trust for Historic Preservation in the Midwest Office.  She is currently a member of the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois Issues Committee.


Thesis Advisor: Mary Woolever, Art and Architecture Archivist, Ryerson and Burnham Libraries

Thesis Reader: Rolf Achilles, Adjunct Associate Professor; Art History, Theory, and Criticism; Historic Preservation

Second Reader: Terry Tatum




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