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Grant Manson Photograph Collection- Oak Park Public Library

Identifier: 2017-005

Scope and Contents

The Grant Manson Photograph Collection contains over 350 photographic prints and negatives of architectural works designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. A majority of these photographs were taken from 1938-1940 while Manson was working on his doctoral thesis.


  • circa 1937-1941

Biographical / Historical

Grant Carpenter Manson was a scholar of the works of the architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Manson was born in Chicago in 1904. He attended Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts where he received his Bachelors of Arts degree and graduated cum laude in 1926.

Manson attended Harvard University, where he received a Masters of Fine Arts in 1940 and a PhD in Fine Arts in 1941. While there, Manson dedicated his studies to the works of Frank Lloyd Wright, making Wright the main subject of his doctoral thesis “Frank Lloyd Wright’s Work Before 1910.” Manson believed it was essential to meet with the famed architect in person in order to understand his work. He first travelled to Spring Green, Wisconsin to meet Wright at his residence in the late 1930s; they would continue to meet as Manson developed his thesis. Manson also took photos from 1937-1941 while conducting his research for his thesis.

Manson enlisted with the Navy after graduation, serving as Lieutenant Commander for Navy Intelligence in Washington, DC and in London during World War II. After the war, he continued intelligence work at the US State Department.

In the early 1950s, while teaching Fine Arts at the University of Pennsylvania, Manson decided to craft his thesis into a full length book. “Frank Lloyd Wright to 1910-The Golden Age” was published in 1958. The book was considered monumental in that Manson had unprecedented access to Wright and was able to ask him directly about his life and work, rather than offering his own interpretation, as many of his contemporaries had done. From 1961-1969, Manson served as Professor of Fine Arts and Architecture as well as Associate Dean of Fine Arts and Architecture at the University of Southern California. For the remainder of his life he worked as an author and lecturer on Frank Lloyd Wright, visiting Oak Park several times in the 1970s to present on Wright and donate his collection to the Oak Park Public Library.

Manson’s work on Wright was so extensive that the architect once said Manson was the man “who knows more about me than I do.”

Grant Carpenter Manson died in 1997 at the age of 92 in St. Clair, Michigan.


2 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Series I: Photographic Prints Series II: Negatives


Manson donated over 350 photographic prints and negatives to the Oak Park Public Library in 1973.


“Grant C. Manson; Frank Lloyd Wright Expert” LA Times 3/27/1997; Steinerag “Grant Carpenter Manson (1904-1997)” 5/15/17; “Party marks reprinting of research on Wright,” Oak Leaves 5/9/79 pg. 33; USC: Trojan Family Magazine Vo. 29 no. 3 p. 85 (Autumn 1997)
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Repository Details

Part of the Oak Park Public Library Special Collections Repository

834 Lake Street
Oak Park IL 60301 USA