chao chen, research librarianChao Chen, Research Librarian; Home
email:; phone: 617.627.2057.
Tisch Library, Tufts University

Boston: Architecture & Urbanism

Research Sources & Tips







Appendix I.

Appendix II.

Definitions & Overviews; Images; Surveys

Reserves and Books

Journal Articles and Popular Press

Writing and Citing Sources

Illiad for Interlibrary Loan Request (sign up for an account, so you can request articles, books and more from other libraries.)

How to Research a Historic Building in Boston


I. Background Information

    Definitions, Overviews and Biographies


    Surveys, Textbooks and Readers

Archipedia (Society of Architectural Historians)

Society of Architectural Historians: Digital Resources
SAH Resources, Preservation Resources, Image Collections, Regional Architecture, and Full Text Resource ( e.g. classic works like "Craftsman Homes" from 1909 and William Halfpenny's "Useful Architecture" from 1760.)

Oxford Art Online (Grove Dictionary of Art)

The Oxford Companion to Architecture

Dictionary of Architecture & Construction / edited by Cyril M. Harris.

Time-saver Standards for Urban Design / editors, Donald Watson, Alan Plattus, Robert G. Shibley.

Building Types Study (in Architectural Record)

American Institute of Architects: Practicing Architecture

American Institute of Architects: Blueprint for America Initiatives


Local Libraries:

Boston Public Library (Fine Arts Department)

The Frances Loeb Library (Harvard School of Design)

Historic New England (Library & Archives)

MIT Rotch Library of Architecture & Planning


Web Sites:

Architectural Resources at the American Antiquarian Society

"Boasts design books from some of America's most renowned early architects, as well as a wide array of architectural drawings, lithographs, engravings, periodicals, and photographs of classic American buildings".

Atlas of Urban Expansion

Boston Landmarks Commission

Boston Redevelopment Authority

Boston Society of Architects

City of Boston Archives

Digital Sanborn Maps of MA 1867-1971 (through Someville Public Library)
Sanborn maps chart the growth and development of more than 12,000 American towns and cities. They are large-scale plans of a city or town, drawn at a scale of 50 feet to an inch and were created to assist fire insurance companies as they assessed the risk associated with insuring a particular property. The maps list street blocks and building numbers.

Historic American Buildings Survey

Massachusetts Historical Commission

Massachusetts Real Estate Atlas Digitization Project
Collections of real estate maps from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Understanding Boston


SAHARA Project by the Society of Architectural Historians in ARTStor)

Artifact (Tufts University)

Great Buildings (in Boston)

American Landscape and Architectural Design, 1850-1920: "Boston".

American Architecture and Interior Design,1935-1955: "Boston".

Turn-of-the-Century Boston

Frederick Law Olmsted: Boston's Emerald Necklace

Built in America Historic American Buildings Survey [HABS]: "Boston".

Boston Historical Society. (Over 3,000 online photographs of Boston streets and views.)

A Digital Archive of American Architecture: Boston Architecture.

Farber Gravestone Collection. (1,059 photographs of gravestones in Boston and the neighborhoods.)

Old Boston Photographs (a series of late 19th century photographs of historic Boston sites)


Books with images at Tisch

Boston Then & Now: 59 Boston Sites Photographed in the Past and Present. Bookstacks: F73.37 .V36 1982

Historic Buildings of Massachusetts: Photographs from the Historic American Buildings Survey with Written Historical and Descriptive Data. Oversize: NA730.M4 H57 1976

Survey of Architectural History in Cambridge. Oversize: NA735.C28 A5


Search for books with architectural images at Tisch Library:

(architect* or building*) and united states and pictorial works

monuments and pictorial works

architect* and photo*

architect* and exhibition*

Architecture -- Designs and plans

Architecture -- Details

Architectural drawing

Boston:  a Topographical History / Walter Muir Whitehill and Lawrence W. Kennedy.
Book Stacks: F73.3 .W57 2000  

Boston Architecture, 1975-1990.
Oversize: NA735.B7 M54

Boston's Back Bay: the Story of America's Greatest Nineteenth-Century Landfill Project.
Stacks: TD795.7 .N545 2006

The Boston Society of Architects' AIA Guide to Boston.
Ref. NA735.B7 S68 2008

Built in Boston: City and Suburb, 1800-2000.
Oversize: NA735.B7 S53 1999.

Buildings and Landmarks of Old Boston: a Guide to the Colonial, Provincial, Federal, and Greek Revival Periods, 1630-1850.
Oversize: NA735.B7 A53 2001

Buildings of Massachusetts: Metropolitan Boston / edited by Keith N. Morgan; principal authors, Richard M. Candee ... [et al.]; photography by Peter Vanderwarker with additional photographs by Antonina Smith.
Oversize & Ref: NA735.B7 B85 2009

Gaining Ground: a History of Landmaking in Boston Oversize: NA735.B7 A53 2001

Cambridge Buildings and Architects

Mapping Boston / edited by Alex Krieger and David Cobb with Amy Turner; contributing essays by David Bosse ... [et al.]; vignettes accompanying the plates, Anne Mackin; map descriptions, Nancy S. Seasholes and David Cobb. Book Stacks: GA430 .M36 1999

Planning the City Upon a Hill: Boston Since 1630.
Book Stacks: HT168.B6 K46 1992


Berkeley Program on Housing and Urban Policy


The Architecture Reader: Essential Writings from Vitruvius to the Present / edited by A. Krista Sykes.


II. Reserves and Books

     A. Use Library Catalogs for Reserves and Books

    B. Sample Searches:

     (note the search pattern; modify to your own needs)

1. Course Reserves


2. Tufts Libraries Catalog

3. WorldCat (beyond Tufts; register for ILLiad so you can request books)


Path of Discovery in the Catalog

1. Find a title/author (assigned readings/Course Reserves);

2. Note the descriptive language of the Catalog record.

3. Use that language in further searches


e.g. Click on subject/author in the record to see further results and related topics.



Shand-Tucci, Douglass, 1941-


Built in Boston: city and suburb, 1800-2000


Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, c1999.


Architecture -- Massachusetts -- Boston -- History -- 19th century.

Architecture -- Massachusetts -- Boston -- History -- 20th century.

Boston (Mass.) -- Buildings, structures, etc.

Architecture -- Massachusetts -- Boston Metropolitan Area -- History -- 19th century.

Architecture -- Massachusetts -- Boston Metropolitan Area -- History -- 20th century.

1. Architects or Buildings:

Gropius, Walter

McKim, Mead and White

"public library" and boston and architecture

2. in the contexts of building types/Styles/Periods:

Public architecture -- Massachusetts

Architecture domestic -- Massachusetts

Dwellings -- Massachusetts

Historic buildings Massachusetts

church architecture -- Massachusetts

sustainable architecture -- Massachusetts

Architecture, Gothic



3. related Topics/ Issues:

Architecture and Gothic and revival and boston


4. Browse Boston Architecture in Tisch Library

architecture Massachusetts

architecture Massachusetts Boston

Boston (Mass.) -- Buildings, structures, etc.


III. Journal Articles and Popular Press

    A. Subject Databases for Journal Articles

    B. Popular Press:

    C. Finding Full Text and Interlibrary Loan (Illiad)


1. and 2. Two favorite collections of core journals of all disciplines.


Project Muse


3. Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals (the principal database)


4. Combinations of Databases; search across groups of databases or search each separately:

Academic Search Premier, America: History & Life, Art Full Text, Art Index Retrospective (1929 - 1984), Environment Complete, Readers' Guide Retrospective: 1890-1982 and Women's Studies International

Limit Your Results


5. When use GoogleScholar, set your Library Links to access Tufts full texts.



Search tips:

Variety of Keywords to cover all aspects

Search with a whole range of keywords: the building, its type, its locale, the city or the country, its period or style; its client/patron, its materials, its setting/site, the architect and his/her theory and ideals, etc.

3. Learn the Language of the Source

In Avery citations on the fairly recent project "the Big Dig House in Lexington, Massachusetts" you will find such subject terms as "Adaptive reuse", "Construction and demolition debris"

The search on the "Wellesley College Library" in Avery finds few articles on the building itself at this point. However, a search on the architect discovers articles on their past and related works University and College Libraries. You place your specific question in a larger context--the study of a type of buildings.



Boston Globe  1980 - present


LexisNexis Academic



Factiva (more international coverage)


Boston Globe (1872-1982)


New York Times Online Archive
(1851 - 3 years before current date)


American Periodicals (1740 - 1940)




     Some of the oldest continuously published magazines in America, including American Spectator, Commentary, Commonweal, Dissent, Harpers Magazine, NACLA, The Nation, The National Review, The New Republic, New York Review, and The New Yorker.

1. Click on the findIt@tufts button button in your search results screen to a window of three sequential options:

a. link to the digital full text when available;

b. link to a Library Catalog search for the print journal;

c. link to ILliad for requesting the article when the above two options are negative.

2. Search for a journal directly here:

a. Tufts Library Catalog (including e-journals)

b. Electronic journals list

c. Use ILliad to request your article, if Tufts does not have your journal.


IV. Writing and Citing

Writing Help

Citing Sources


The craft of research / Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, Joseph M. Williams.


Tufts Academic Resources Center -- Writing Tutors



Chicago Style Manual

MLA Style


An example of citing HABS-HAER Reports (Historical American Building Surverys-Historic American Engineering Record) in MLA Style:

Hnedak, John D. "The Academy Chapel (Cathedral of the Navy), United States Naval

Academy, Annapolis, Anne Arundel County, Maryland (Photographs, Historical and Descriptive Data)". Historic American Buildings Survey Report  (HABS No. MD-329-1). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2013.


1. n.d. means “no date”

2. The author as identified in the last paragraph of the last page of the document.

Also see the example by National Park Service,

HABS-HAER Report: 
Eaton, Sarah. “Pan American Airways System Terminal Building, 3500 Pan American Drive, Miami, FL,” Historic American Buildings Survey Report (HABS No. FL-36). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, 1981.