Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Labatut, Jean, 1899-1986
Jean Labatut Papers
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1915-1983 (mostly 1920-1979)
102 boxes and 62.5 linear feet
Storage Note:
  • This is stored in multiple locations.
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Boxes 1-14; 21-35; 37-45; 47-69; 71-95; 98-101; 106-108; 64a; 67A; 67B
  • ReCAP (scarcpxm): Boxes 102-105; 109
English French


The Jean Labatut Papers consists of the professional papers of Jean Labatut (1899-1986), which include correspondence with prominent twentieth-century architects, landscape architects, and designers, the architectural files for his major and minor projects, and the administrative papers and teaching materials that he accumulated while he was the Director of Graduate Studies in Architecture at Princeton University (1928-1967), the position for which he is best remembered. Also included are Labatut's family papers, containing albums of photographs compiled by his sister-in-law, Mrs. Elliott F. Shepard, while she helped to operate a convalescence home founded by her husband in France for soldiers in World War I.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The papers include correspondence between Labatut and important twentieth-century architects, landscape architects, and designers, such as J. C. N. Forestier, R. Buckminster Fuller, Sigfried Giedion, Arthur C. Holden, Victor Laloux, Albert Leclerc, LeCorbusier, Auguste Perret, and Robert Venturi. Notable is his extensive correspondence with Jacques Maritain from 1956 to 1973.

The subject files contain all materials-that is, correspondence, documents, notes, sketches, plans and blueprints, photographs, and printed matter-related to Labatut's major and minor projects, which include the 1939-1940 New York World's Fair, the Monument to José Martí (Havana, Cuba), the Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart (Princeton, New Jersey), and Labatut's entries for architectural competitions of the 1920s and the 1930s. In addition to project files, the subject files also contain the administrative papers and teaching materials accumulated by Labatut while he was the Director of Graduate Studies in Architecture at Princeton University (1928-1967); materials pertaining to various awards received by Labatut, including the Thomas Jefferson Medal and Professorship in Architecture awarded by the University of Virginia (1972-1973) and the ACSA/AIA Award for Excellence in Architectural Education (1976); and miscellaneous travel files kept by Labatut, which include photographs, sketches, and printed matter regarding his 1936 flight on the Hindenburg.

Included in these subject files is a large collection of Labatut's guache drawings for the New York World's Fair (1939-1940) fireworks, as well as plans and blueprints for the execution of the fireworks. In addition, there is a group of photographs (and negatives) and fifty glass lantern slides.

The papers also contain writings by Labatut, primarily in the forms of articles and speeches, photographs, artwork, audiotapes, stamps, plaques, Christmas cards designed Labatut, and printed matter.

In addition to Labatut's professional papers, the collection contains his family papers. Aside from correspondence exchanged between Labatut and his wife and brothers, the family papers include some papers and several albums of photographs that belonged to Labatut's sister-in-law, Mrs. Elliott F. Shepard (née Eleanor Terradell), who helped to operate a convalescence home founded by her husband for soldiers of World War I in Chantilly, France.

Also present is a 16mm lab copy of a film recorded by Jean Labatut as a passenger aboard the Hindenburg on a transatlantic trip from June 23-26, 1936. There are four cartons of reels and canisters containing uncatalogued film taken by Labatut--in questionable condition. These have been stored off-site for preservation purposes.


The papers have been arranged in the following series:

Collection Creator Biography:

Labatut, Jean, 1899-1986

Labatut, architect and teacher, was a primary force behind the development of Princeton University's School of Architecture, 1928-1967. During his 39-year teaching career at Princeton, he founded the Bureau of Urban Research, acted as consultant in charge of campus development of several other educational institutions, and designed and supervised architectural projects around the world, including Spain, Havana (Cuba), and Princeton.

Collection History


The collection was gift of the Labatut estate. Additional materials, previously stored at the Architecture Library, were transferred to the Manuscripts Division in 2006 (AM 2007-42). A film by Jean Labatut was a gift of John McPhee, to whom Labatut lent it, in 2015 (2016-29).

Custodial History

The collection came directly to the Princeton University Archives from Maybury Hill, the Labatut estate, in 1987. It was transferred to the Manuscripts Division in 1991 (AM 1992-22).


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Heather A. Shannon in 1999. Finding aid written by Heather A. Shannon in 1999 Some boxes were removed after processing was completed (i.e., after boxes had been numbered and labeled--hence, the numbering has gaps. Unused numbers are 15-20, 36, 46, 70.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

Jean Labatut Papers; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
  • This is stored in multiple locations.
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Boxes 1-14; 21-35; 37-45; 47-69; 71-95; 98-101; 106-108; 64a; 67A; 67B
  • ReCAP (scarcpxm): Boxes 102-105; 109