|Avery Drawings & Archives Collections|
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Series I: Faculty Papers
Series IV: Professional Papers
At a Glance
This collection is arranged in five series: Personal Papers, Professional Papers, Faculty Papers, Office Records, Project Records.
Scope and Content
The collection contains papers related to Eleanor Pepper's professional and academic lives, and includes some personal papers, mostly in the form of resumés and biographical sketches.
The collection includes professional papers which cover Pepper's vast involvement in various associations and committees - including the American Society of Interior Design, the Decorator's Club, The National Council on the Aging, and the NYC chapter of the AIA – texts from many of the presentations she gave, and published materials. Also included is material from her work with the U.S.O., including a field manual.
The collection includes faculty papers from her various teaching positions, including course materials from Pratt Institute of Design and other design programs. Also included are papers related to her involvement with the National Institute of Architectural Education (now the Van Alen Institute).
Documented also is much of her design work, in the form of drawings and project files. Some photographs and clippings are also included.
Finally, the collection contains a large amount of reference files that pertain to her professional work and teaching.
Using the Collection
Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library
Restrictions on Access
This collection is available for use by appointment in the Department of Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University. For further information and to make an appointment, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Permission to publish must be obtained in writing from the Director, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, 1172 Amsterdam Ave., MC 0301, New York, NY 10027.
Eleanor Pepper architectural records and papers, 1891-1997, (bulk 1920-1990), Department of Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library
Processed; Andrea J. Merrett 2011.
2011-05-26 File created.
2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.
History / Biographical Note
Born in 1904, Eleanor Pepper was a pioneer in the field of interior design, running one of the first departments of interior design in an architecture office before opening her own practice in 1950. Pepper was born in New York City and attended the Ethical Culture School. She obtained her B.A. from Barnard College in 1924, and her B.S. in Architecture from M.I.T. in 1928. From 1931 to 1934 she studied at the Institute for Art and Archeology at The Sorbonne, in Paris, and was granted a Diplôme des Etudes Superieures. While at Barnard, Pepper designed theatrical sets for Wigs and Cues productions, which inspired her to study architecture at a time when it was not an obvious career choice for women.
After graduating from M.I.T., Pepper worked for Henry T. Child, in New York and José Imbert in Paris. Upon returning to the United States, she ran her own practice until 1942. During World War II, she was hired by Admiral Harris Engineers to design floating dry-docks before briefly working for Fairchild Aircraft in 1943. In June of 1943 she joined the U.S.O. building staff, where she designed and supervised the construction and remodeling of almost 200 club buildings.
In 1945, Pepper joined the office of Voorhees, Walker, Foley and Smith, where she ran the quasi-independent department of interior design. In 1946 she oversaw the refurbishment of Hunter College to provide temporary meeting rooms for the U.N.'s Security Council. She was also involved in the design of the U.N. facilities at Lake Success. She left Voorhees, Walker, Foley and Smith in 1950 to open her own office and began teaching interior design at Pratt Institute. In 1951 she became head of the department, a post she held until 1959, and continued to teach at Pratt until 1970. She also taught at New York Institute of Technology and New York School of Interior Design, and lectured regularly for commercial and professional audiences.
Throughout her career, Pepper was active in the architecture and design community in New York and nationally. Among her affiliations and activities she was: an associate of the American Institute of Architects; a vice-president of the Architectural League of New York; on the board of directors of the National Institute of Architectural Education (now the Van Alen Institute); a member of the Association of Women in Architecture; a committee chairman for the Municipal Arts Society; and very involved with the Decorator's Club, including traveling with a group to China in 1977, at the invitation of the Chinese Government.
Pepper contributed articles to professional journals, including Architectural Record, Hospitals: the Journal of the American Hospitals Association, and Architecture & Engineering News. She was an associate editor for House and Garden early in her career. Her work was also published in several professional journals, including Interior Design. Although she worked on a variety of projects over the length of her career – from private residences to institutional and commercial buildings – she developed a particular specialization in the interior design of hospitals and homes for the elderly.
Eleanor Pepper died in New York City in 1997 at the age of 93.