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COLLECTION Identifier: MS.GL.001

David Robbins Coffin papers, 1918-2003

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of Coffin's personal papers and materials relating to his teaching career at Princeton University and his scholarly research interests in Renaissance architecture and garden history. Materials include notebooks, index cards, correspondence, typescripts, course syllabi, class and lecture notes, and offprints. Of particular note are Coffin's notebooks, which contain extensive research notes on English, French, and Italian gardens. There is also a significant amount of visual material, including photographs, slides, microfilm, and negatives.


  • 1918-2003

Conditions Governing Access

The collection has not been processed and is only partially rehoused. An appointment is required to consult the collection. Please submit appointment requests here: For research queries, contact the staff of Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives ( A preliminary inventory of the collection is available here:

Conditions Governing Use

Duplication of materials in the collection may be governed by copyright and other restrictions.


40 linear feet (38 boxes of notebooks; 3 boxes of offprints; 3 boxes of catalog cards; 7 boxes of negatives; 3 boxes of slides; 11 boxes of unprocessed materials, papers and photographs)

Biographical / Historical

David Robbins Coffin (1918-2003) was an American historian of Renaissance gardens and landscape architecture. Coffin taught at Princeton University from 1949-1988, serving as chair of the art and archaeology department from 1964-1970. In addition, Coffin was the first chairman of the Garden Advisory Committee for Dumbarton Oaks, which led to the establishment of a scholarly program for garden and landscape studies in 1971. Coffin also organized the first garden symposium at Dumbarton Oaks in 1971, which focused on his métier, Italian gardens.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

In 2009, Dumbarton Oaks acquired the Coffin papers from his estate and the collection was transferred from Coffin's residence and the Department of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University in Princeton, NJ.
David Robbins Coffin papers, 1918-2003 : Finding aid.
The archive was partially processed by Gerrianne Schaad, ICFA Curator in 2009-2010.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS)
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Dumbarton Oaks Repository

With more than a million unique and historical items, archival collections in ICFA represent the three areas of study supported by Dumbarton Oaks: Byzantine, Pre-Columbian, and Garden and Landscape. Collections are generally comprised of administrative records, fieldwork papers, photographic prints, negatives, slides, oversize drawings, and moving images. Appointments are available Monday to Friday from 9:30am-12pm and 1-4:40pm (excpet Federal Holidays).

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