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Edward Thornton Hartman papers

Call Number: MS 266

Scope and Contents

The Edward Thornton Hartman Papers document the professional career of Edward Thornton Hartman (1869- ), a housing, planning, and zoning expert in Massachusetts. The collection is arranged in nineteen (19) boxes and totals six and one-half (6.5) feet. Span dates for the collection are 1904-1940s, with bulk dates of 1923-1943.

Hartman's professional employment included service as: secretary of the Massachusetts Civic League (1904-1920); managing director and secretary of the Child Federation, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1921-1923); and state consultant on Housing and Planning, Department of Public Welfare, Boston, Massachusetts (1923-1929). Hartman also served as president of the Massachusetts State Conference on Social Work, vice president of the American Civic Association, director of the American Federation of Arts, and director of the National Housing Association.

The Hartman Papers are organized in two series, maintaining the organization of files constructed by the donor: I. CORRESPONDENCE, 1904-1940s, n.d., II. SUBJECT FILES, [ca. 1863-1940s].

Series I, CORRESPONDENCE, contains the professional correspondence of Edward Hartman. Little or no insight into the private man and his personal life is available in this material. These letters, arranged chronologically, consist of one folder of items relating to the Massachusetts Civic League (folder 1), and one folder of items relating to the Child Federation of Philadelphia (folder 2). All remaining correspondence relates to Hartman's work as state consultant for Massachusetts' Department of Public Welfare (folders 3-22).

Hartman's correspondence as a state consultant sheds light upon the thoughts and actions of municipal, town, and state officials and planners from 1923-1940s. Specifically, there is much correspondence with Massachusetts town and city officials, containing factual and theoretical discussions of the necessary components for zoning and planning programs in the 1920s and 1930s. Hartman corresponded with individuals from cities and towns such as: Greenfield, Leominster, Lexington, Medford, Nantucket, Saugus, Swampscott, and Taunton. To a lesser degree, Hartman corresponded with municipal representatives from across the nation. These correspondents included: architects, attorneys, boards of selectmen, chambers of commerce, city clubs, city hall representatives, city solicitors, highway commissions, journals, planning committees, and zoning boards. Among the common topics of interest in these letters are: education, housing, legislation, real estate, recreation, and traffic.

Much of Hartman's professional work focused on the analysis and application of the principles of zoning into the municipal environment, and his expertise and committment to the concept of zoning is amply reflected in his correspondence. Hartman undertook a comprehensive study of zoning decisions in Massachusetts courts and the Supreme Court. In 1928 he concluded that the many traumas facing American communities demanded zoning action, "by which lot sizes may be established, that is minimum sizes, front, side and rear yards may be provided, and residential districts may be protected from encroachment by any kind of commercial or industrial activity. These are all essential." By 1939 Hartman could claim a direct role in writing some twenty-eight state laws.

Correspondence relating to the Massachusetts Civic League (folder 1) consists of letters from the South Park Commissioners (Chicago), Commission on Immigration and Housing of California, State Charities Association, and various state civic leagues. These letters relate to proposed social programs, the legality of city and state zoning laws, and the role of state civic leagues. Individual correspondents, whose letters deal with these same subjects, include: T.N. Carver, W.A. Griffin, Joseph W. Kelly, Joseph Lee, Benjamin C. Marsh, and A.D.K. Shurtleff.

Letters pertaining to Hartman's work at the Child Federation of Philadephia are arranged in folder two. These nine letters include correspondence with Edwards Albert Park of Yale University's Department of Pediatrics, the American Red Cross, and the Child Health Organization of America. These letters focus on the topics of health and housing concerns (see also: Series II, folder 28).

Series II, SUBJECT FILES, contains an alphabetical arrangement of research and reference files compiled by Hartman. Examples of Hartman's addresses and writings, both published and unpublished, are arranged in this series (folders 38-44). The topics of these works include: housing reform, state and local legislation, town and village improvement, recreation, health, regionalism, traffic control, real estate, zoning, architecture, neighborhood centers, the Massachusetts Civic League, and improvement societies.

Three major subject headings in this series are: "Planning," "Planning and Zoning," and "Zoning." Planning files (folders 64-101) contain information on: city planning, 1907-1939, n.d.; on a Master Community Survey, 1912-1940, n.d.; and on subdivision controls, [ca. 1912-1939, n.d.]. Master Community Surveys were coordinated, extensive surveys designed to elicit and involve the entire population of an area. Planning files contain printed material and writings organized under headings for individual states. Files for Massachusetts are subdivided alphabetically by city and town. Among the locales represented in these files are: Amherst, Andover, Belmont, Billerica, Boston, Cambridge, Concord, Charlestown, Foxboro, Great Barrington, Greenfield, Leominster, Lexington, Marion, Marblehead, Medford, Needham, Peabody, Plymouth, Quincy, Reading, Saugus, Watertown, Wayland, and Worcester (folders 91-97).

Planning and zoning files (folders 102-115) consist of printed material and notes on various state and federal court decisions from 1899-1939, n.d. (folders 102-113). Additional files in this section contain writings and notes on practical problems (folder 115) in planning and zoning.

Zoning files (folders 135-149) consist of files of general information and administration, lot sizes, maps, Massachusetts, and problems. These files contribute substantially to Hartman's thorough documentation of all aspects of zoning in the urban environment.

Additional material relating to zoning is arranged in an index card file (boxes 15-19). Headings for planning, zoning - miscellaneous, and court decisions all contain further data on zoning-oriented topics.

Other files of interest in this series include those for the subjects of: charity (folder 27), neighborhood units (folder 55), traffic and traffic control (folder 128), traffic problems (folders 129-131), and villages (folder 134). These files contain a variety of printed material and writings which focus on the professional response to such developments in the 1920s and 1930s.


  • 1904-1943
  • Majority of material found within 1923 - 1943


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown, though much of the material in this collection is likely in the public domain. 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

Purchased from Mr. and Mrs. E.T. Hartman, 1942.


The papers are arranged in two series: I. Correspondence, 1904-1940s, undated. II Subject Files, [circa 1863-1940s].


7 Linear Feet (19 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


Professional correspondence and subject files maintained by Hartman in connection with his career. The correspondence relates chiefly to Hartman's work as state consultant for the Massachusetts Department of Public Welfare (1923-1929). Important correspondents are T.N. Carver, W.A. Griffin, Joseph W. Kelly, Joseph Lee, Benjamin C. Marsh, A.D.K. Shurtleff, and Edwards Albert Park. The major portion of the papers consists of topical files, principally on planning and on zoning, which was of particular interest to Hartman, who was active in the writing of zoning laws in twenty-eight states. The files, which contain printed matter, notes on legal decisions and practical problems, offer thorough documentation of all aspects of zoning in the urban environment. Twenty-five cities in Massachusetts are included in the planning section as part of a series of Master Community Surveys, 1912-1940.

Biographical / Historical

Housing, planning, and zoning expert; secretary of the Massachusetts Civic League, 1904-1920; managing director and secretary of the Child Federation, Philadelphia, 1921-1923; state consultant on Housing and Planning, Department of Public Welfare, Boston, 1923-1929; president of the American Civic Association, director of American Federation of Arts, director of National Housing Association.

Guide to the Edward Thornton Hartman Papers
Under Revision
compiled by William E. Brown, Jr.
May 1983
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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