Clyde Dorsett papers, 1940-1991

Clyde Dorsett papers, 1940-1991, (bulk 1952-1982)
approx. 20 in linear feet (in 20 archival boxes, 1 oversize box, 8 rolls, and 1 oversize folder).
This collection is made up of four series: Project Records, Professional Papers, Reference Files, and Personal Papers.
Finding Aid
Finding aid available online. See Online Link.
This collection is composed primarily of project drawings, reports, letters and some photographs of general medical and specifically CMHC projects from across the United States received and commented upon by Dorsett while at the NIMH from 1963 to 1982. It also includes projects received and/or discussed by Dorsett after that date while acting as a private design consultant. The other, somewhat smaller portions of the collection, his reference material, professional and personal papers, comprise of studies, notes, articles, guidelines, private architectural projects, student design work, and various ephemera.
Biographical / Historical Note
Clyde H. Dorsett (1925-2007) was an architectural consultant dedicated to mental healthcare design, becoming the nation's leading authority in the design and construction of such facilities. Working as chief architectural consultant for the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) from 1965 to 1982, he oversaw the federal government's ambitious program to transform the nation's monolithic state mental hospital structure into a wider variety of local and state facilities. This would now address a spectrum of medical and social needs through more precisely tailored, yet humane and informal design approaches. Underpinning the work was the growing conviction that the built environment played a significant role in the healing process, and that such "scientifically" derived design could be applied to social problems, since environments affected both perception and behavior and had to be rigorously understood. Based at the institute's offices in Washington D.C., he advised on individual projects through drawings submitted by architects nation-wide, as well as developing guidelines and standards for the accreditation, certification and funding of construction projects by the federal government. It is of these documents that the present collection largely comprises. He continued advising in the field long after his early retirement from the institute in 1982.
The bulk of this collection is stored in Columbia University Libraries' off-site storage facility. Materials will be recalled by request. This collection is available for use by appointment in the Department of Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University. For further information and to make an appointment, please call (212) 854-4110 or email
Manuscript/Archive Manuscript/Archive
Acquired On
May 17, 2012
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