The J. Carson Webster Papers fill twelve boxes and span the period 1931-1989. The Papers are comprised of six categories: education files, correspondence, teaching files, research files, professional organizations files, and publications. Two folders of biographical materials and three folders of speeches and talks are also included.
Users of these papers should look in several locations for materials on a specific subject, e.g., correspondence with the University of Chicago Press about his contribution to the book Chicago's Famous Buildings, will be found in general correspondence under the appropriate dates and also under publications, Chicago's Famous Buildings correspondence. Within the categories, the Papers are arranged alphabetically according to subject title unless otherwise stated.
The education files consist of reading and lecture notes, correspondence, and two seminar papers from Webster's years at Princeton University.
The general correspondence relates primarily to Webster's writing, teaching, and professional interests and is arranged chronologically by year. The major part of the subject correspondence consists of material relating to academic matters at Northwestern and the Art Department.
The teaching files contain lecture notes, syllabi, student papers, exams, and grade sheets. Some of the assignment sheets describe in detail tours students were advised to take at the Art Institute of Chicago. The course files are arranged sequentially by their corresponding course number followed by the remaining teaching files in alphabetical order according to subject title.
The research files briefly cover numerous subjects and consist primarily of reading notes and correspondence.
The professional organizations files contain materials relating to Webster's appointment to the Commission on Chicago Architectural Landmarks to establish the selection criteria and select the buildings to be designated as Chicago's architectural landmarks. Box 7, Folders 2-3 contain relevant correspondence, notes, and reports. Webster's assistance with the Historic American Buildings Survey's Chicago Recording Project are also present.
The publications section has small amounts of material related to three books written, or contributed to, by Webster: Architecture of Chicago and Vicinity, Chicago's Famous Buildings and Labors of the Months. However, most of the material in this category pertains to Webster's major work, Erastus D. Palmer, published by the University of Delaware in 1983. There is one typed draft, much related correspondence, reading, research and site notes, and photocopies of letters by, to, and about Erastus Palmer. Drafts and correspondence related to some of Webster's articles are found at the end of the publications section. Of special interest is a 34-page typescript. “History of the Department of Art, Northwestern University” (Box 11 Folder 15).
Addition (Boxes 13-17, 1931-1988)
This addition to the J. Carson Webster Papers fills five boxes and spans the period 1931-1988, with the bulk of the material dating between 1940 and 1980. The addition is comprised of three categories: correspondence, teaching files, and publications. A small amount of biographical material was also interfiled in the original series.
The correspondence concerns primarily Webster's academic, administrative, and professional activities.
The teaching files consist mainly of notes for lectures and reading notes. One folder deals with Webster's teaching at the University of Chicago.
The publications category contains a substantial amount of material related to Webster's major work Erastus D. Palmer, on the 19th century New York sculptor. Of interest are drafts of various parts of the book, correspondence related to Webster's search for material, correspondence with his publisher, Associated University Presses, and photocopies of Palmer's account books and many letters by and to him.