Scope and Contents
The papers, spanning 1789-1961 (bulk 1840-1961), consist of correspondence, architectural drawings, sketches, diaries, photographs, lecture materials, writings, and other documents pertaining to the life of Shepherd Stevens (1880-1962), an American architect and professor of architecture at Cornell (1915-1920) and Yale (1920-1947) universities who was educated at Columbia University (1899-1903) and trained in the Beaux-Arts tradition at the École des Beaux Arts in Paris, France, where he received his diplôme in 1908. The papers are a particularly rich and valuable resource for the study of architectural education and pedagogy in the early decades of the twentieth century. Also included in the collection are materials pertaining to the lives of several of Stevens’s family members.
Among the twelve records series documenting Stevens’s academic, professional, and personal activities, the most significant and extensive include Series II, Correspondence, and Series III, Diaries and Calendars, both of which record Stevens’s time as a student, a practicing architect, and a professor of architecture, as well as his travels throughout the world; Series IV, Drawings and Sketches, which comprise student projects, assignments, and sketchbooks undertaken at Columbia and the École, and some professional work Stevens pursued during his brief stint as an architect; Series VI, Lecture and Class Material, which includes student writings, lecture notes,and assignments, as well as teaching materials from Yale; and Series IX, Photographs, which contains images of Stevens, portraits and snapshots of various friends and family members, and a variety of travel photographs, including a series of images taken after World War I in France, where Stevens worked for the American Red Cross documenting wartime destruction. The final series, Series XIII, comprises the papers of several family members who were close to Stevens, including his aunt Charlotte Cordelia (Shepherd) Davenport and uncle William Bates Davenport; these papers consist of correspondence, photographs, writings, and other records documenting a range of personal and professional activities, including events relating to the American Civil War and World War I.
- Majority of material found within 1840 - 1961
Language of Materials
The materials are primarily in English, with some French.
Conditions Governing Access
The materials are open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Unknown; probably transferred from the Yale University's Art Library.
The collection is arranged in thirteen series: I. Card Indexes, undated. II. Correspondence, 1884-1960. III. Diaries and calendars, 1892-1959. IV. Drawings and sketches, 1890-1957. V. Financial records, 1888-1957. VI. Lecture and class material, 1896-1947. VII. Notes, writings, and speeches, 1888-1956. VIII. Official documents, 1856-1954. IX. Photographs, 1873-1952. X. Postcards, undated. XI. Printed material, 1789-1961. XII. Miscellanea, 1818-1955. XIII. Papers of Stevens's family members, 1822-1931.
107 Linear Feet (108 boxes)
The papers consist of correspondence, architectural drawings, sketches, diaries, photographs, lecture materials, writings, and other documents pertaining to the life of Shepherd Stevens (1880-1962), an American architect and professor of architecture at Cornell (1915-1920) and Yale (1920-1947) universities who was educated at Columbia University (1899-1903) and trained in the Beaux-Arts tradition at the École des Beaux Arts in Paris, France, where he received his diplôme in 1908. The papers also include correspondence, photographs, writings, and other records pertaining to the lives of several of Stevens’s family members, including Charlotte Cordelia (Shepherd) Davenport (aunt) and William Bates Davenport (uncle). The collection is a particularly rich and valuable resource for studying architectural education and pedagogy in the early decades of the twentieth century.
Biographical / Historical
Shepherd Stevens was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey on June 29, 1880, the son of Thomas Henry and Mary Ellen (Shepherd) Stevens. His aunt Charlotte (Shepherd) Davenport was appointed his official guardian by the County of Kings, New York on October 8, 1888. Stevens moved to Brooklyn, New York, with his aunt Charlotte (Shepherd) and uncle William Davenport (Yale University graduate of 1867) where he was educated at the Brooklyn Latin School (1896-1899) and Columbia University (1899-1903). While attending Columbia University, Stevens focused his studies on architecture, taking classes that ranged from medieval architectural history and ornament to drawing and design.
Stevens, well-traveled and fluent in French, moved to Paris in the fall of 1904 to prepare for the entrance examinations at the École des Beaux-Arts. He passed the entrance exams in July of 1905 and studied under the French architect, Henri Deglane. He received his diploma in architecture in 1908 and returned to New York the following year. For a short time in 1909 and 1911 Stevens worked as a draftsman for William Wells Bosworth and John R. Pope, respectively. During the latter half of 1911, Stevens joined the architectural firm of Carrère & Hastings where he assisted in executing the designs for the Frick Mansion, which later housed the Frick Collection, located on Fifth Avenue in New York City. In 1913, Stevens designed the architectural plans for the Berlin, New Hampshire, City Hall but ultimately was not the chosen architect.
Stevens accepted a position at Cornell University in 1915 as assistant professor of architecture, where he remained until 1920. While teaching at Cornell, Stevens served in World War I as a lieutenant with the American Red Cross. Stationed in France, he spent three months in Paris with the Department of Civil Service and several months at Château-Thierry working with the Friends Organization in temporary repair work. Before departing for France in June of 1918, Stevens married Mary Wilder Breckenridge on May 23, 1918 and remained married until her death in 1925. Stevens left Cornell in 1920 and moved to New Haven, Connecticut, where he joined Yale University’s School of Fine Arts as assistant professor of architecture. He advanced to associate professor in 1924, and was named professor of architecture in 1930, where he remained until his retirement in 1947 when he was named professor emeritus. At Yale he taught classes in architectural history, city planning, and design.
In 1929, Stevens joined four other members of the Yale School of Fine Arts for a series of public lectures on art and architecture and focused his lectures on Egyptian and Assyrian architecture. Stevens earned his BFA in 1922 and an honorary M.A. degree was conferred on him by Yale University in 1926. During the summer of that same year, Stevens studied at the American Academy in Rome. From 1900 to 1952 Stevens traveled extensively both in the United States and abroad. He made over twenty-eight trips to Europe, particularly France and Italy, as well as India, Africa, and Asia for personal enjoyment and to study the architectural monuments and culture. In 1903-1904 he took a trip around the world with his aunt Charlotte and uncle William Davenport.
Throughout his life, Stevens was a member of various clubs and professional societies—the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design, American Institute of Architects, Graduate Club of New Haven, and University Club of New York City—and was religiously affiliated with the Church of Christ at Yale. Stevens married Emily Bradley Quinn on September 2, 1935. Stevens died on February 10, 1962, in New Haven, Connecticut, and is buried at the historic Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York. To honor his aunt and uncle, Stevens donated funds to the Yale School of Architecture and established The William B. and Charlotte Shepherd Davenport Visiting Professorship of Architecture Design. Since 1966 and continuing today the Yale School of Architecture has invited a distinguished architect to join the faculty under the Davenport Professorship.
Charlotte Cordelia (Shepherd) Davenport (aunt) was the daughter of Geo F. (American Civil War Veteran) and Sarah Elizabeth (Boyd) Shepherd. Charlotte became the legal guardian over Shepherd Stevens in October of 1888. On September 9, 1874, she married William Bates Davenport and moved to Brooklyn, New York. Charlotte traveled extensively throughout the United States, Canada, and abroad. She was an avid writer and wrote several books, including her first published in 1918 Thoughts as They Came. She died on December 21, 1931.
William Bates Davenport (uncle), son of Julius and Mary Ann (Bates) Davenport, was born in New York City on March 10, 1847. On his father’s side he is an eighth generation descendant of John Davenport, who participated in the founding of New Haven, Connecticut, in 1638. He was educated at the Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute under Professor J. C. Overheiser and graduated from Yale University in 1867. Davenport received an honorary Master of Arts degree from Yale in 1887. Davenport was admitted to the Bar in New York State in 1870 and practiced until 1904, specializing in equity and real estate law.
From 1889 to 1904 Davenport held the office of Public Administrator for Kings County, New York. He was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention of 1884 and was a member of the New York State Constitutional Convention in 1894 (serving as a member of the Committee on Cities and Corporations). His many club and society memberships included the Yale Council, Graduate Club of New Haven, Yale Club of New York, Sons of the Revolution, Society of Colonial Wars, Phelps Association of New Haven, and Wolf’s Head, a Yale Senior Society. He died on November 14, 1929.
This collection was processed through the generous support of Trip Levis.
- Architectural drawings (visual works)
- Architecture -- Study and teaching
- Cornell University -- Faculty
- Stevens, Shepherd, 1880-1962
- United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865
- World War, 1914-1918
- World War, 1914-1918 -- War work -- Red Cross
- Yale University -- Faculty
- École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts (France)
- Guide to the Shepherd Stevens Papers
- Under Revision
- compiled by Suzanne Noruschat and Lauramay LaChance
- November 1982
- Description rules
- Finding Aid Created In Accordance With Manuscripts And Archives Processing Manual
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.
Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository
Yale University Library
P.O. Box 208240
New Haven CT 06520-8240 US
(203) 432-7441 (Fax)
Sterling Memorial Library
120 High Street
New Haven, CT 06511