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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Ger 208

Walter Gropius papers


Papers of German-born architect and Harvard professor Walter Gropius.


  • Creation: 1925-1969
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1937-1969

Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English, German, and Spanish.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.


15 linear feet (40 boxes)

Contains correspondence and compositions (in English and German) relating to Gropius' career after 1937. Chiefly correspondence with noted European, American, and Japanese architects, including Mies van der Rohe and Alvar Aalto; designers and artists, including Lyonel Feininger; colleagues from Bauhaus (Dessau), Black Mountain College, and Harvard, such as Joost Schmidt, Josef Albers, Joseph Hudnut; family (including Ise Gropius' correspondence during Walter Gropius' lifetime), friends, and former students; publishers; and persons in planning and building professions. Significant amounts of correpondence exist from the following: Albers, Marcel Breuer, Gerhard Marcks, Alexander Dorner, Hudnut, and Lásló Moholy-Nagy. Also considerable correspondence with other political refugees from Germany, such as the architect Sigfried Giedion, and friends and relatives who described conditions in wartime Germany as well as their postwar experiences, such as Joachim Rolfes. Other materials include notes and drafts reflecting Gropius' teaching and curriculum planning at Harvard; his writings on architectural education, city planning, design and industry, history of Bauhaus, architect in society, etc.; speeches and round-tables; correspondence, itineraries, etc. concerning his trip to Japan in 1954; reports by Harvard Graduate School of Design on housing projects in South Boston; and compositions by others, such as Alexander Dorner.

Biographical / Historical

Gropius was a German-born architect and educator, who founded and directed the Staatliches Bauhaus, Weimar in 1919; taught at Harvard, 1937-1952; and formed the Architects Collaborative in Cambridge, 1946.


Arranged into the following series:

  1. I. Compositions by Walter Gropius
  2. II. Compositions by others
  3. III. Letters to and from Walter Gropius
  4. IV. Letters of condolence, 1969
  5. V. Other letters

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

81M-84. Gift of Ilse (Frank) Gropius; received: 1973-1981.

This collection of Gropius materials represents only a part of the personal archive of Walter Gropius. Upon his death his widow, Ise Gropius, arranged to have the collection divided into early and late papers. Both parts were photographed with funds provided by the Thyssen Foundation. The late papers, relating to Gropius' career after 1937, and the photos of the early ones, then came to the Houghton Library; the early papers and photos of the late ones went to the Bauhaus Archiv, then in Darmstadt, since reestablished in Berlin.

Related Materials

For photographs of the early papers of Walter Gropius in the Bauhaus-Archiv, Berlin, Germany, see bMS Ger 208.2. Additionally, several boxes of press clippings are also housed in the Houghton Library, see *81M-94 and *81M-96. Another collection of Gropius materials, consisting of several thousand blueprints, sketches, and photographs of buildings designed by Gropius throughout his career, is located in the Busch-Reisinger Museum at Harvard. Lamont Library houses microfilm of certain clippings scrapbooks.

Processing Information

In 2020-2021, as part of a conscious and inclusive re-description effort, entries were updated to include a woman’s first name when identified. Ilse (Frank) Gropius formerly listed as Mrs. Walter Gropius.

Link to catalog
Gropius, Walter, 1883-1969. Walter Gropius papers, 1925-1969: Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, archives, and more. Houghton Library's collections represent the scope of human experience from ancient Egypt to twenty-first century Cambridge. With strengths primarily in North American and European history, literature, and culture, collections range in media from printed books and handwritten manuscripts to maps, drawings and paintings, prints, posters, photographs, film and audio recordings, and digital media, as well as costumes, theater props, and a wide range of other objects. Houghton Library has historically focused on collecting the written record of European and Eurocentric North American culture, yet it holds a large and diverse number of primary sources valuable for research on the languages, culture and history of indigenous peoples of the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania.

Houghton Library’s Reading Room is free and open to all who wish to use the library’s collections.

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