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Wurster (Catherine Bauer) Papers
BANC MSS 74/163  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Scope and Contents
  • Biography
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Preferred Citation
  • Separated Materials
  • Related Materials
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Accruals
  • Colophon
  • System of Arrangement
  • Processing Information

  • Language of Material: English
    Contributing Institution: The Bancroft Library
    Title: Catherine Bauer Wurster papers, 1931-1964.
    Creator: Wurster, Catherine Bauer, 1905-1964
    Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 74/163
    Physical Description: 62.35 linear feet (34 boxes, 39 cartons, 2 oversize folders)
    Date (inclusive): 1911-1964
    Date (bulk): 1931-1964
    Abstract: The Catherine Bauer Wurster Papers contain material related to the personal and professional career of author/activist/educator/ C.B. Wurster (1905-1964). These records include correspondence, diaries, notebooks, and presentations; records of her involvement with numerous organizations, manuscripts, reprints and tear sheets of her articles other writings; notes; extensive subject files on housing and city planning; files relating to her teaching career at Berkeley and elsewhere; bibliographical material, ephemera, and clippings; etc. They reflect Wurster’s travel experiences, consulting projects, correspondence with a wide range of thinkers, activists, architects and planners; involvement in the housing movement and city and regional planning on national and international levels; creating legislation, and serving as a professor in U.C. Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design.
    Physical Location: Many of the Bancroft Library collections are stored offsite and advance notice may be required for use. For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the library's online catalog.

    Scope and Contents

    The Catherine Bauer Wurster Papers contain records related to the personal and professional career of author/activist/educator/ C.B. Wurster (1905-1964). These records include manuscript materials, published works, ephemera, and clippings. They reflect Wurster’s travel experiences, consulting projects, correspondence with a wide range of thinkers, activists, architects and planners; involvement in the housing movement and city and regional planning on national and international levels; creating legislation, and serving as a professor in U.C. Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design. One carton of photographs has been transferred to The Bancroft Library Pictorial Collection.


    Considered one of the founders of American housing policy, Catherine Krouse Bauer Wurster (CBW) was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey in 1905. Her parents were Jacob Louis Bauer, a transportation engineer and Alberta Krouse. She attended Vail-Deane School and then Vassar College. In her junior year she transferred to the School of Architecture at Cornell University, but returned to Vassar to graduate in 1926.
    The next few years were devoted to research and writing about housing and city planning and travel abroad to study European housing. For the next decade in the company of Mary Simkovitch, Lewis Mumford, Clarence Stein, and many others engaged in the study of housing and city planning, she found that concern for the underprivileged, interest in the relationship between man and his environment, and a fervor for reform in public policy was to guide her active and influential life.
    During these years she served as executive secretary of the Regional Planning Association of America, of the Labor Housing Conference, and of the Housing Committee of the American Federation of Labor, and wrote her now classic 1934 book Modern Housing. Its synthesis of social, economic, political, technological and architectural insights, established her as an authority in housing and a leader in New Deal housing policy. In 1936 she won the first Guggenheim Foundation award made in architecture or housing. She participated in the preparation, promotion and passage of the U.S. Housing Act of 1937 and served as the first Director of Research and Information for the new United States Housing Authority and as adviser to numerous other federal and local agencies.
    In January, 1940, she came to the University of California at Berkeley as Rosenberg Lecturer in the School of Social Work and in August of that year married William Wilson Wurster, a prominent San Francisco architect. When they moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1944, C.B. Wurster became a lecturer in the Department of Regional Planning at Harvard University. She also became Vice President of the National (Public) Housing Conference, and continued to serve as a board member or officer of the National Committee on Housing, the Committee on the Hygiene of Housing of the American Public Health Association, the Boston and Massachusetts Housing Associations, and the International Federation of Housing and Town Planning. During these years, she presided over a joint committee that drafted “A Housing Program for Now and Later” for the National Association of Housing Officials and the National (Public) Housing Conference, a significant document in the long campaign for the adoption of the Housing Act of 1949.
    In 1950 the Wurster’s returned to the west coast when William Wurster became Dean of the School of Architecture at The University of California, Berkeley. Catherine became a lecturer and later professor, in the Department of City and Regional Planning, a position she held until her death. During these years, she was consultant to the United Nations, travelled, wrote, and advised on housing problems in India and other developing countries, consulted on projects related to California’s Central Valley and Washington’s Columbia River Basin, and served as adviser to the U. S. Public Health Service, the U.S. Housing and Home Finance Agency, and the U.S. Census Bureau. She also served in various capacities in the American Planning and Civic Association, the Democratic Advisory Council, and was made an honorary member of the American Institute of Planners. In 1960 when President Eisenhower appointed a Commission on National Goals, she was invited to prepare the section on the urban environment, which appears in Goals for Americans. In 1963 she organized a major conference on “The Metropolitan Future” as a part of the U.C.’s series on California and the Challenge of Growth. When she died in 1964, she was editing the papers of this conference, contributing to the California Governor's Advisory Commission on Housing Problems, and serving as Associate Dean of U.C. Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design.
    Catherine Bauer (she used her maiden name for professional purposes) was a prolific writer and popular lecturer. “She accepted honors with modesty and would turn quickly and cheerfully to her private business--discovering the facts, asking about the policy, and urging action--always action which is the test of policy.” She commanded the respect and admiration of architects, planners, sociologists, and economists for her ability to think sharply, clearly, and incisively, and for a far-reaching knowledge in a wide range of fields.

    W. L. Wheaton, T. J. Kent, Jr., M. M. Webber. In Memorium, University of California, Berkeley. Accessed 7 Apr 2016.

    Oberlander, H. Peter and Eva Newbrun. Houser: the Life and Work of Catherine Bauer. Vancouver: UBC Press, 1999.

    Conditions Governing Access

    Collection is open for research.

    Conditions Governing Use

    Some materials in these collections may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.). In addition, the reproduction of some materials may be restricted by terms of University of California gift or purchase agreements, donor restrictions, privacy and publicity rights, licensing and trademarks. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owner. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user. All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from, or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley 94720-6000. See: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/reference/permissions.html

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Catherine Bauer Wurster papers, BANC MSS 74/163c,The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Separated Materials

    Photographs have been removed to the Library's Pictorial Collections for separate indexing.

    Related Materials

    Photograph Collection of Catherine Bauer Wurster (BANC PIC 1974.029), Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley. William and Catherine Bauer Wurster Papers (2008-15), Environmental Design Archives, University of California, Berkeley.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    C.B. Wurster’s papers were given to The Bancroft Library by her daughter following the death of her husband noted architect and educator, William Wilson Wurster in 1974.


    No future additions are expected.


    The Catherine Bauer Wurster (CBW) collection was donated by Sadie Wurster Super to the Bancroft Library in 1974. The material had been collected from a storage area in Wurster Hall and boxed for transfer. It is likely it had originally been stored following removal from CBW’s office some time after her death in 1964.
    Following acquisition of the collection, it was processed according to archival practice of the 1970s. All the correspondence was separated into individual letters. The result was that incoming and outgoing correspondence was divided and letters were removed from attachments and other accompanying material. This correspondence was then painstakingly organized into “letters from CBW” and filed chronologically and “letters to CBW”, which were filed alphabetically by correspondent/organization. Most other material, whether created, collected, or received by her were filed in three places using an applied alphabetical scheme that did not always reflect the content or context of the material; Subject Files, Articles not written by her, and Clippings. Other groupings of documents included a number of cartons referred to as UC Berkeley, Diaries, Notebooks and Personalia; and Bibliographies.
    In 2016 a project to reprocess the CBW Collection was undertaken with the intent of identifying the original context and organization of the material in the collection in order to provide more comprehensive access. A number of phases were undertaken during this process. First a review of the Subject Files revealed a number of projects, organizations, and research areas that had been interfiled as a result of the imposed alphabetizing. These were collocated to restore original creation and context. A review of the correspondence allowed the identification of the significant correspondents who were housed in miscellaneous or unidentified folders and the recreation of correspondence that had been separated into incoming (to CBW) and outgoing (from CBW) letters.
    A time line of her personal and professional lives was developed that provided a structure on which to place activities (such as education and travel), correspondents, employment, research topics, and presentations. The timeline led to the creation of archival series that more accurately reflect a contextual relationship for the material in the collection. For example letters to and from her family are housed together rather than throughout 45 containers. She actively either worked for or was involved in a number of organizations for which the letters from, letters to, organizational records, and publications are now collocated by organization, this is also the case for documentation related to her book, Modern Housing, her career as an educator, and a number of significant projects such as her work on California’s Central Valley, the Columbia River Basin, Sacramento Redevelopment, and housing/planning in India.

    System of Arrangement

    Arranged to the folder level.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Waverly Lowell and Lisa Monhoff in 2017.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Wurster, Catherine Bauer, 1905-1964
    Abrams, Charles
    Blucher, Walter H. (Walter Harold)
    Bohn, Ernest John
    Burcahrd, John E. (John Ely)
    Crane, Jacob L. (Jacob Leslie)
    Crosby, Alexander L.
    Echeverria, Edward, G.
    Ehrenkrantz, Ezra D.
    Eichler, Edward P.
    Emmerich, Herbert
    Engelbert, Ernest A.
    Ensminger, Douglas
    Goodwin, Philip Lippincott
    Griffith, Alice
    Gutheim, Frederick Albert
    Harris, Britton
    Haskell, Douglas Putnam
    Packard, Walter E. (Walter Eugene)
    Park, Richard Leonard
    Shishkin, Boris
    Stein, Joseph
    Stonorov, Oscar
    Torbert, Edward N.
    Vinton, Warren Jay
    Weaver, Robert C. (Robert Clifton)
    Weissmann, Ernest
    Woodbury, Coleman
    Wurster, William Wilson
    Ylvisaker, Paul N.
    Regional Planning Association of America
    United States. United States Housing Act of 1937
    United States Housing Authority
    Harvard University. Department of Regional Planning
    University of California, Berkeley. Department of City and Regional Planning
    Central Valley Project (Calif.)
    Redevelopment Agency of the City of Sacramento
    American Institute of Planners
    American Planning and Civic Association
    National Housing Committee (U.S.)
    United States. Federal Housing Administration
    United States. Housing and Home Finance Agency
    City planning
    Architecture -- India