Avery Drawings & Archives Collections
 

Edith Elmer Wood papers, 1900-1943

Summary Information

Abstract

Edith Elmer Wood (1871-1945) was a US housing reformer. As lobbyist, writer, and government consultant, she helped define New Deal housing policy. After graduating from Smith College in 1890, she wrote fiction and undertook settlement house work before launching her influential, life-long career in housing reforms. The bulk of the collection is letters but other kinds of material is included, such as drawings, blueprints, manuscripts, maps, photographs, pamphlets, news clippings and hotel receipts.

At a Glance

Bib ID 3460606 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Wood, Edith Elmer, 1871-1945 ; Columbia University. Teachers College ; Iowa State College. Department of Home Economics
Title Edith Elmer Wood papers, 1900-1943
Physical Description 72 manuscript boxes
Language(s) English
Access

This collection is available for use by qualified readers by appointment in the Dept. of Archives & Drawings' Reading Room, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library at Columbia University. The majority of this collection is maintained in off-site storage and must retrieved with advance notification. For further information and to make an appointment to use this collection, please call (212) 854-4110 or email avery-drawings@libraries.columbia.edu.

Arrangement

Description

Scope and Content

The Edith Elmer Wood Collection covers a short but important period in the housing field. The bulk of the collection spans from 1917-1943. Papers consist primarily of correspondence, architectural drawings and blueprints, manuscripts, maps, photographs, clippings, pamphlets, press releases, reports, notebooks, legal documents, and miscellaneous documents are also included.

The collection documents, among other things, Wood's involvement as member, officer, or consultant with the U.S. government housing agencies, and national, regional, state, city, and international housing organizations. Organizations include United States Public Works Administration, 1930s-1940s; U.S. Housing Authority, 1930s-1940s; President's Conference on House Building and Home Ownership, 1930s; U.S. Dept. of Commerce, 1920s-1940s; New Jersey State Housing Authority, 1930s-1940s; National Association of Housing Officials, 1930s-1940s; National Housing Association, 1910s-1930s; National Public Housing Conference, 1930s-1940s; International Housing Association, 1920s-1940s; organizations in California, Massachusetts, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., and particularly New York and New Jersey. Wood's correspondence, circa 1900s-1930s, with housing groups in Belgium, Italy, France, Germany, Holland, Norway, Spain, and particularly Great Britain, is included.

The collection also includes correspondence (with related legal documents, clippings, and reports) relating to housing legislation in the U.S., New York, New Jersey (including the Wagner-Ellenbogen bill); course outlines, reading lists, examinations, correspondence, notes, and other instructional material from courses Wood taught at Teachers College, Columbia University, and the Dept. of Home Economics at Iowa State College; manuscripts of lectures and speeches with related correspondence; and photographs, biographical essays, and miscellaneous documents.

When the collection was donated to Avery Library descriptive labels were on the manuscript boxes. It was discovered though that the labels did not necessarily correspond to the contents of the boxes. More concise identifying labels were needed. In some instances, attempts had been made to organize material within the boxes. When possible, the original arrangement was used. When several pieces of correspondence were found clamped together or enclosed in the same envelope, they were usually left that way. This was due to the assumption that Dr. Wood or her secretary had arranged them in that manner because of some kind of relationship between the pieces of material. If the date was lacking on the correspondence, the postmarked date from the envelope was bracketed on the letter in pencil.

Using the Collection

Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library

Access Restrictions

This collection is available for use by qualified readers by appointment in the Dept. of Archives & Drawings' Reading Room, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library at Columbia University. The majority of this collection is maintained in off-site storage and must retrieved with advance notification. For further information and to make an appointment to use this collection, please call (212) 854-4110 or email avery-drawings@libraries.columbia.edu.

Restrictions on Use

Columbia University is providing access to the materials in the Library's collections solely for noncommercial educational and research purposes. The unauthorized use, including, but not limited to, publication of the materials without the prior written permission of Columbia University is strictly prohibited. All inquiries regarding permission to publish should be submitted in writing to the Director, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University. For additional guidance, see Columbia University Libraries' publication policy.

In addition to permission from Columbia University, permission of the copyright owner (if not Columbia University) and/or any holder of other rights (such as publicity and/or privacy rights) may also be required for reproduction, publication, distributions, and other uses. Responsibility for making an independent legal assessment of any item and securing any necessary permissions rests with the persons desiring to publish the item. Columbia University makes no warranties as to the accuracy of the materials or their fitness for a particular purpose.

Preferred Citation

Edith Elmer Wood papers. Dept. of Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York, N.Y.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library

Processing Information

Inventory arranged and finding aid written by Mattye Laverne Brandon in 1973. Shelley Hayreh (Avery Archivist) edited and published the finding aid for the collection in 2011.

Revision Description

2009-06-25 File created.

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.

Genre/Form

Heading "CUL Archives:"
"Portal"
"CUL Collections:"
"CLIO"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
"ArchivedGRID"
Architectural drawings Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Maps Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Photoprints Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
blueprints (reprographic copies) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

Subject

Heading "CUL Archives:"
"Portal"
"CUL Collections:"
"CLIO"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
"ArchivedGRID"
Architecture Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architecture -- United States -- Designs and plans Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architecture, Domestic Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Housing -- Belgium Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Housing -- California Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Housing -- France Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Housing -- Germany Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Housing -- Great Britain Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Housing -- Italy Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Housing -- Law and legislation Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Housing -- Massachusetts Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Housing -- Michigan Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Housing -- Netherlands Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Housing -- New Jersey Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Housing -- New York (State). Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Housing -- Norway Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Housing -- Pennsylvania Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Housing -- Spain Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Housing -- United States Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Housing -- Washington (D.C.) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
International Housing Association Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
National Association of Housing Officials (U.S.) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
National Housing Association (U.S.) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
National Public Housing Conference Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
New Jersey State Housing Authority Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
President's Conference on House Building and Home Ownership Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Public housing -- United States Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
United States Housing Authority Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
United States. Department of Commerce Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
United States. Public Works Administration Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Women college teachers Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biography

Edith Elmer Wood, born in Portmouth, New Hampshire, on September 24, 1871, was the daughter of U.S. Navy Commander Horace and Adele (Wiley) Elmer. She received her Bachelor's degree from Smith College in 1890 and was awarded the M.A. degree and the Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1917, 1919, respectively. She also graduated from the New York School of Social Work in 1917.

Edith Elmer was married to U.S. Navy Lt. Albert Norton Wood on June 24, 1893. He died in 1933. Two of their sons, Horace Elmer and Thurston Elmer also died during Dr. Wood's lifetime. The remaining two, Horace Elmer II and Albert Elmer succeeded her.

Dr. Wood was considered a professional writer as of 1890. Activities for which she is known today began in 1906 when she founded and presided over the Anti-Tuberculosis League of Puerto Rico in 1906, 1907, 1909. She became the honorary president of the League in 1908 and was also a delegate to the International Tuberculosis Congress during that year.

She was chairman of the National Committee on Housing of the American Association of University Women from 1917-1929. She was in charge of courses on housing at the Columbia University extension from 1926-1930, 1936, 1937. She was a consultant to the Housing Division of the Public Works Administration from 1933-1937; a consultant of the United State Housing Authority from 1934-1937; Vice-president of the National Public Housing Conference from 1932-1936 and a director from 1936-1945; a member of the executive committee of the International Housing Association from 1931-1937, and she belonged to academic fraternities including the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society.

Publications Dr. Wood authored are: Her Provincial Cousin, 1983, Shoulder Straps and Sunbonnets, 1901, The Spirit of the Service, 1903, An Oberland Chalet, 1910, The Housing of the Unskilled Wage Earner, 1919, Housing Progress in Western Europe, 1923, Recent Trends in American Housing, 1931, Slums and Blighted Areas in the United States, (P.W.A. Housing Division Bulletin), 1935 and Introduction to Housing Facts and Principles, 1939. She also contributed material to magazines and newspapers.

Although Dr. Wood traveled extensively, she considered her permanent home to be Cape May Court House, New Jersey. She died on April 29, 1945 and was buried in the U.S. Naval Academy Cemetery in Annapolis, Maryland.

(Information taken from the January, 1947 issue of International Who's Who.)