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Environmental Design Archives: How to Find Materials

How Collections are Organized

Collections are organized by the creators of the records such as architect, landscape architect, firm, designer, or photographer, and then by original client’s last name or project title not by address. Client name can be an individual (Robert Birge), the corporate entity (Eichler Homes), or an organization (U.S. Farm Security Administration).

How Collections are Described

Before coming to do research, it helps if you can supply a list of items you would like to view during your visit. To find this information, you can consult the following resources:


Information Pages: found via the list of collections page consist of a webpage for each collection containing a brief biography of the creator of the records, and for each collection--the scope of contents, links to the project index, and an online finding aid. 

Finding Aids: individual collections are available to aid researchers in understanding the arrangement, scope, and contents of the records. They can be accessed through the EDA’s website or directly through the Online Archive of California where digital images are also available (see eyeball icon).

Not sure what a finding aid is or how to use one? Take a look at our finding aid guide, in the dropdown menu, or watch the video below. 

Project Index: an excel spreadsheet that lists all the projects for a particular EDA collection. This index is organized by the original client's last name or project title and can be found on the information page for each respective collection. Click on the Project Index tab on the dropdown menu on this page for a step-by-step guide for reading a Project Index.


Digitized Archival Material from EDA Collections

  • Online Archives of California (OAC): The EDA has 158 collections described here, 19 of which have online items. To learn more about our holdings, check out our page on the OAC.
  • Calisphere: Several thousand high-resolution images from the EDA are accessible here.
  • Internet Archive: a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more. The EDA hosts a page with videos and audio recordings from our collections.
  • The Online Exhibits website hosts digital versions of physical exhibits curated by the EDA team. Over 2,000 digitized items! Browse by exhibition or keyword search!
  • Virtual Collections are thematic digital exhibits comprised of content coming from different archival collections.

    • Journey to The Sea Ranch engages visitors with archival collections through a series of visually rich stories, including a comprehensive timeline of the creative process and tours of the built environment.