Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Arthur Cort Holden Papers
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1845-1993 (mostly 1890-1993)
39 boxes
Storage Note:
  • This is stored in multiple locations.
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Boxes 1-27; 33-35; 27a
  • ReCAP (scarcpxm): Boxes 28-32; 28A; 28B; 28C


The Arthur Cort Holden Papers consists chiefly Holden's personal and professional papers, accumulated during his life (1890-1993) as an architect and active Princeton University alumnus. Also included are photographs, the papers of friends and family members, and miscellaneous printed matter dating from the 1840s to the 1990s.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The collection contains Holden's various personal and professional papers, accumulated during his life (1890-1993) as an architect and active Princeton University alumnus, as well as photographs, the papers of friends and family members, miscellaneous printed matter dating from the 1840s to the 1990s, and a taped interview with Holden.

Holden's personal papers include writings, his correspondence, and drawings. His writings include drafts of memoirs, articles, books, a play, and a great deal of poetry. Also included in his writings are his class notes from his time at Princeton and his graduate studies at Columbia. His correspondence consists of his correspondence with his first wife, Miriam Young Holden, his second wife, Rose Barnes Holden, other members of his family, and his friends, and also touches upon his wartime (1914-1917) experience, Princeton University, the Christodora House in New York City, his association with Frank Lloyd Wright, and his membership in the Cosmos Club and the Grolier Club. His drawings include mainly travel sketches and architectural sketches and plans.

Holden's professional papers include architectural plans, articles and reports on urban planning, papers regarding his association with Frank Lloyd Wright and the building of the Guggenheim Museum, and documents from various New York City commissions and planning boards such as the United Neighborhood Houses of New York.

Holden's photographs consist mainly of his friends and family, although there is a series of the staff of the Grolier Club Bindery probably dating from the very beginning of the twentieth century, as well as a series of portraits of young men dating from the 1910s, which in all likelihood are graduating portraits of members of Princeton's Class of 1912.

The papers of friends and family members include the correspondence between Arthur Cort Holden's parents, Edwin B. Holden and Alice Cort Holden, and Charles Eliot Norton, as well as a bound book of reproductions of letters (1854-1855) from Edwin Ruthven Holden to Sarah Elizabeth Kellogg. The miscellaneous printed matter in this collection consists chiefly of pamphlets and magazines, and includes a collection of articles by or about James Russell Lowell dating from 1845 to 1894, as well as an issue of Ladies Home Journal from 1858 and a scrapbook of newspaper clippings from 1902. Among memorabilia are two examples of the original stamps issued under the English Stamp Act of 1765.

The taped interview with Holden was recorded in1974 onto six audiocassettes.

Collection Creator Biography:


Arthur Cort Holden was a member of the Princeton University Class of 1912. He went on to earn a graduate degree in architecture from Cornell University, and joined the New York City firm of McKim, Mead, and White, later forming his own firm and advising Frank Lloyd Wright on the design of the Guggenheim Museum in 1949. In addition to working as a practicing architect, Arthur Cort Holden wrote extensively on architecture, urban planning, and a wide variety of other topics.

Arthur Cort Holden was born in New York City on November 29, 1890, the son of Edwin B. Holden and Alice Cort Holden. He entered Princeton in the fall of 1908 as a member of the Class of 1912 and graduated with a Bachelor of Literature degree. He subsequently pursued degrees at Columbia University, receiving a Bachelor of Architecture and an A.M. in Economics in 1915.

Between June 1914 and June 1917, he served as troop mechanic with the Machine Gun Troop, Squadron A, New York Cavalry, on the Texas border and was discharged as a corporal. He thereupon entered the Hull Division at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, where he had a number of assignments, including Chief of Plant Section and Special Assistant to Shop Supervisor of the Hull Division. He was discharged in February 1919.

In 1915 he became associated with the office of McKim, Mead, and White until he set up his own architectural firm on January 1, 1920. His architectural partnerships-Arthur C. Holden & Associates, Holden, McLaughlin & Associates, Holden, Egan, Wilson & Corser, Holden, Yang, Raemsch & Corser, and Holden, Yang, Raemsch, Terjesen-spanned the years from 1920 to 1977, when, at the age of 87, he described his further professional activities as those of a consultant on the financing of construction and real estate. His main architectural concern was to put architecture in the service of the ordinary man. And to that end, he associated himself with many national, state, and municipal undertakings, such as the New York City Mayor's Committee on City Planning (1934-1938) and the Coordinating Committee of the Welfare Council, and he served as the chairman of the Executive Committee of the New York Urban League. In private practice he was consulting architect to American Houses, Inc., makers of basic prefabricated houses. Of his non-housing endeavors, probably the most notable was his association with Frank Lloyd Wright during the construction of the Guggenheim Museum in New York. His architectural achievements were acknowledged in 1957, when he received the Medal of Honor from the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

On February 10, 1917, he married Miriam Young of Boston, with whom he had three children, Edwin Arthur, Jane (Mrs. Clay), and Richmond Young Holden. In 1977, after his first wife's death, Holden married Rose M. N. Barnes.

In addition to his professional career as an architect, Holden also authored several books and pamphlets, the majority of which related to his interests in finance and architecture. He and his first wife were also avid book collectors. Princeton was the recipient of the Miriam Y. Holden Collection on the History of Women (ExHold in the Rare Books Department and the Holden Room in the general stacks) and Arthur Holden's collection of books and pamphlets related to American experiments in communal living, as well as various other books and pamphlets from their private collections.

Holden was a member of the Cosmos Club and the Grolier Club, where his father had also been a prominent member. He was additionally involved with the Christodora House and the Princeton Committee on Social Service. Holden served as the President of the Class of 1912, was a long-standing Friend of the Library, and held, towards the end of his life, the distinction of being Princeton's oldest living alumnus.

Arthur Cort Holden died on December 18, 1993, at the age of 103.


Collection History


This collection came to Princeton in 1994 as a bequest from Holden's estate.


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Jennifer Groom in 1999 and Jennifer Maloney in 2000. Finding aid written by Jannon Stein in 2000.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

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:

Arthur Cort Holden 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 1-27; 33-35; 27a
  • ReCAP (scarcpxm): Boxes 28-32; 28A; 28B; 28C

Find More


The book manuscripts found in draft form in this collection that came to print are Primer of Housing, by Arthur C. Holden in collaboration with Henry Wright and Clarence S. Stein, with a preface by William J. Tracy (New York: Workers Education Bureau Press, 1927), and Sonnets for my city; an essay on the kinship of art & finance as factors in the development of the city and the moulding of man's environment (New York: Schulte Publishing Company, 1965).

Subject Terms:
Architects -- New York (N.Y.) -- 20th century -- Correspondence.
Architects -- New York (New York).
Family papers -- New York (N.Y.)
Stamp act, 1765.
Women's studies.
Genre Terms:
Architectural drawings.
Oral history.
Christodora House.
Cosmos Club.
United Neighborhood Houses
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
The Grolier Club
Princeton University. Class of 1912.
Holden family
Holden, Miriam Young.
Wright, Frank Lloyd, 1867-1959.