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COLLECTION Identifier: 87-M130

Papers of Elisabeth Coit, 1899-1987


Correspondence, architectural drawings, photographs, etc., of Elisabeth Coit, architect and author.


  • Creation: 1899-1987

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research. Researchers must consult the conservator before handling Roll Boxes 3-4 and 7-15.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Elisabeth Coit is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


3.25 linear feet ((4 + 1/2 file boxes, 1 folio+ box) plus 11 roll boxes, 3 oversize folders, 19 photograph folders, 1 folio photograph folder, 1 folio+ photograph folder)

The collection is arranged in two series:

Series I, Personal, 1-33, includes awards; photographs, of Elisabeth Coit, family, and friends; clippings about Coit and her work, correspondence with friends; Coit's sketches, watercolors, and plays for children.

Series II, Professional, 34-98, includes photographs and architectural drawings of houses and offices designed by Coit, 1925-1941, and of public housing and offices for which Coit was consultant, 1961-1972, and photographs of low-income housing 1938-1940, part of Coit's research project. Scattered professional correspondence most dating from after Coit's retirement, includes an extensive exchange, 1947-1974, with a Greek architect, Cleon Crantonellis; Coit's reminiscences of her years (1919-1929) in Grosvenor Atterbury's office were written in 1984. There are also reprints of Coit's publications about low-income housing, NAHRO newsletters, and articles about women in architecture from the 1930s and 1940s.


Elisabeth Coit, architect and author, was born in Winchester, Massachusetts on September 7, 1897. She studied at Radcliffe College, 1909-1911, Boston's Museum of Fine Arts School, 1911-1913, and received her B.S. in architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1919. She was draftsman-designer in the office of Grosvenor Atterbury in New York, 1919-1929, and then maintained her own office in New York, 1930-1942, designing houses principally for women clients outside of New York City and business premises in New York. Her study of low-income housing in the United States, "Design and Construction of the Dwelling Unit for the Low-Income Family" was published in Octagon October, November 1941. Coit was architect and technical standards editor for the Federal Public Housing Authority's publication, Public Housing Design, in Washington D.C. (1942-1947), and then research associate with Mayer and Whittersley, 1947-1948. From 1948 until her retirement in 1962, Coit was principal project planner for the New York City Housing Authority. After her retirement, she continued to be active as a housing consultant to government and private organizations.

Coit wrote articles and government pamphlets on housing, 1943-1962, reviewed books for the Architectural Record, and beginning in 1968 was editor of the newsletter of the New York Metropolitan Chapter of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials.

Coit was the first woman to receive the Langley Award from the American Institute of Architects (1938-1940). Among her other honors were a medal in the Better Homes in America Competition, 1933 and an award as pioneer in architecture from the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects in 1969. In 1955 she was elected a Fellow of the AIA for literature and public service, and received an honorary degree from Wilson College in 1969.

Physical Location

Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: 87-M130

The papers of Elisabeth Coit were given to the Schlesinger Library by Robert Hawley, Elisabeth Coit's nephew, in August 1987.


  1. Box 1: #6-10, 12-14, 16-17
  2. Box 2: #19-25, 27-30
  3. Roll Box 3: #58, 63
  4. Roll Box 4: #54a, 73a
  5. Box 5: #31-32, 75, 77-78, 80-86
  6. Box 6: #87-93
  7. Roll Box 7: #47
  8. Roll Box 8: #68, 70
  9. Roll Box 9: #73b, 74
  10. Roll Box 10: #60
  11. Roll Box 11: #48, 49, 51, 56, 62, 65, 71
  12. Roll Box 12: #50, 52, 53, 54, 55, 62, 65, 71
  13. Roll Box 13: #69
  14. Roll Box 14: #72
  15. Roll Box 15: #61
  16. Box 16: #94-98
  17. Folio+ Box 17: 15f+, 18f+, 26f+, 67f+

Processing Information

Processed: January 1988

By: Jane S. Knowles

Coit, Elisabeth, 1892-1987. Papers of Elisabeth Coit, 1899-1987: A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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