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Collection Overview
 
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Description
This collection contains architectural drawings and plans, office records, photographs, correspondence, project files, student work, family correspondence, and personal papers from the estate of California architect Julia Morgan, who practiced in San Francisco during the first half of the twentieth century. The bulk of the collection extends from 1896, when Morgan left for Paris to study architecture at the Beaux-Arts, to 1945 when her practice began to wind down. A persistent misperception exists that she destroyed records from her fifty-year practice when she retired in 1951. In fact, she carefully preserved many original architectural drawings and other business records, which were given to California Polytechnic State University by her heirs. The National Board of the YWCA; Earl and Wright, Consulting Engineers; Mr. and Mrs. William Randolph Hearst, Jr.; and other donors who wish to remain anonymous have made significant additional donations to the collection, which are also included in this guide.
Background
Born in San Francisco, Julia Morgan (1872-1957) grew up in Oakland in a spacious Victorian house. Gifted in mathematics and encouraged in her studies by her mother, Morgan was influenced to become an architect by her mother's cousin, Pierre Le Brun, who designed an early skyscraper, the Metropolitan Life Insurance Tower in Manhattan. In 1890, she enrolled in the undergraduate civil engineering program at the University of California at Berkeley, in part because there were no architectural schools on the West coast at that time. After graduation, Berkeley instructor and architect Bernard Maybeck recommended further study at his alma mater, L'École des Beaux-Arts, where the curriculum was renowned for the scope and majesty of its assignments: apartment suites in palaces, art galleries, opera houses, and other opulent environments fit for lavish, if imaginary, clients. Once in Paris, Morgan failed the entrance exam twice. Morgan then learned that the faculty had failed her deliberately to discourage her admission. Eventually the faculty relented and Morgan went on to win medals for her work in mathematics, architecture, and design. She traveled throughout Europe in her free time, filling sketchbook after sketchbook with accomplished watercolors, pastels, and line drawings. In 1902, Morgan was certified by the Beaux-Arts in architecture.
Extent
99 boxes, 25 flat file drawers, 12 tubes, 7 artifacts
Restrictions
The materials from this collection are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright law. Photocopying of material is permitted at staff discretion and provided on a fee basis. Photocopies are not to be used for any purpose other than for private study, scholarship, or research. Special Collections reserves the right to limit photocopying and deny access or reproduction.
Availability
Collection is open to qualified researchers by appointment. For more information on access policies and to obtain a copy of the Researcher Registration form, please visit the Special Collections Access page. Advance notice required for use.