What is OlmstedOnline.org? Back to Top

OlmstedOnline.org is a web portal that brings together information about the landscape design, urban and regional planning work of the Olmsted firm. This information includes interactive maps, georeferenced original drawings, historic photographs and correspondence, navigational tools, and descriptions of the Olmsted work and its significant features. It is a resource that fosters education, appreciation and direct interaction with this significant legacy. OlmstedOnline.org assists park stewards, government agencies and the public with the restoration, maintenance and preservation planning for Olmsted-designed sites. How is the Project Funded explains why Washington State is the initial focus of the site.

Who is the National Association for Olmsted Parks (NAOP)? Back to Top

OlmstedOnline.org is a project of the National Association for Olmsted Parks, a coalition of design and preservation professionals, historic property and park managers, scholars, municipal officials, citizen activists and representatives of numerous Olmsted organizations around the United States. Founded in 1980, NAOP's mission is to advance Olmsted principles and legacy of irreplaceable parks and landscapes that revitalize communities and enrich people's lives. NAOP is a strong national advocate for preservation and advancement of the Olmsted legacy. Learn more about NAOP at olmsted.org.

How is the Project Funded? Back to Top

To initiate the project and launch the website, NAOP received a federal Transportation Enhancement grant administered by the Washington State Department of Transportation to display online maps, plans, photographs and correspondence for the Olmsted work in the Puget Sound and Washington State. The database underlying the website is able to grow to accommodate the full body of Olmsted work in North America and internationally. NAOP was also awarded a grant by the Friends of Seattle’s Olmsted Parks to edit descriptive material for the Washington State portion of the project.

NAOP has also been fortunate to receive in-kind support from volunteers, who have selected documents for digitization, donated photographs, written site descriptions, and advised on all aspects of the program. See Projects and Partners for information about grant projects and local partners.

NAOP seeks partnerships and support to expand the project into new cities and regions. If you are interested in contributing data, expertise or financial support, please contact NAOP at info@naop.org or (202) 223-9113. You can also donate online by visiting our support page.

Do I Need Permission to Download Documents? Back to Top

OlmstedOnline.org allows users to download copies of documents for research and educational purposes. Anyone wishing to publish copies of documents or use them for commercial purposes must first contact the copyright owners (identified with the materials) for permission.

For more information, see the Fair Use Policy.

Where are the Original Olmsted Documents? Back to Top

In addition to the main repositories of the Olmsted Firms’ original documents described below, there may be additional collections located in other national, state or municipal archives, public libraries, academic institutions, and historic societies. As you find additional collections, please notify NAOP at info@naop.org.

Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site (FLONHS or ONHS)
The Olmsted Archives at the Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site, National Park Service contains close to 1,000,000 original documents related to the work of the Olmsted firm. These resources include drawings and plans, photographic negatives and prints, planting lists, lithographs, financial records, job correspondence, reports, and models, among other documents. Research appointments or requests for digital copies may be made by contacting the Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site at:

99 Warren Street
Brookline, Massachusetts 02445
(617) 566-1689

Library of Congress (LOC)
The Olmsted Papers and Records collection at the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress contains most of the firm’s written correspondence and administrative files which support and explain the drawing files held at Olmsted National Historic Site. It includes two important collections related to the work of the Olmsted firm: the Frederick Law Olmsted Papers and the Olmsted Associates Records. Detailed finding aids for both collections are available online. The Manuscript Division also houses the papers of Laura Wood Roper, Frederick Law Olmsted’s first biographer.

Researchers are advised to write or phone prior to visiting:

Manuscript Division
Library of Congress
101 Independence Ave. SE
Washington, D.C. 20540-4680
(202) 707-5387

Frances Loeb Library at Harvard University Graduate School of Design (FLL)
The John Charles Olmsted Collection at the Frances Loeb Library includes some 5,000 letters John Charles Olmsted exchanged with his wife, Sophia White Olmsted (1862-1956), during the years 1898-1920. During this period Olmsted traveled for lengthy periods on firm business and this correspondence provides insight into the realities of both practice and domestic concerns. There are also correspondence files with professional colleagues, notecards, scattered manuscript materials of professional interest, as well as family papers, ephemera and photographs.

Researchers are advised to contact the Loeb Library prior to visiting:

Special Collections
Frances Loeb Library
Harvard University
48 Quincy, Gund Hall
Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 496-1300

Where can I find more digital scans of the Original Olmsted Plans and Photographs? Back to Top

OlmstedOnline.org, as a curated website, will display selected plans and photographs. OlmstedOnline.org will also provide external links on the Project Details Page to digital archive collections associated with that job.

In the case of the Olmsted Archives at Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site, the plans and photographs are being shared on Flickr after they are scanned. The photo albums and photo collections have been digitized and posted on the Olmsted Archives Flickr site. The scanning process of the 139,000 plans is underway. Olmsted Archives is adding new scans to the Flickr site frequently, so checking back on Flickr from time to time may be beneficial.

The plan lists on OlmstedOnline.org include the extant plans in the Olmsted Archives plan collection. If a plan of interest is not yet available on the Flickr site (as only a portion of the plans have, as yet, been digitized), contact Olmsted Archives at Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site (FRLA_OlmstedArchives@nps.gov) to arrange to see a specific plan.

At present, the Flickr site, which hosts the Olmsted Archives digital collection online, tends to shut down when trying to move from one job number to another at the Flickr collection level. One way to facilitate this access is to return to yourOlmstedOnline.org tab to go to another Project Details Page for a job to see if there is an Olmsted Archives link available for that job.OlmstedOnline.org intends to periodically update its list of Flickr links. If a link does not show up onOlmstedOnline.org, entering the job number (#xxxx) (no lead 0 needed) and job name, if known, in an internet search may provide a direct Flickr collection or album link for that job.


Olmsted Archives Flickr FAQ - for more detailed information about the Flickr site and its content.

Keyword searches look for terms in the Description text, so any word or phrase can be entered.

Description are provided by NAOP as specific items and locales are curated. The Description of Plans, Documents and Images, when provided, will include the archive source number in [] if available, such as [photo album 03879-01-ph023] or [frlalith05950-05front]. So entering an archive source code in the Keyword box may help locate that item.

Projects - Keyword searches where Project Descriptions are provided can help in finding subprojects with other common names or related projects.

Plans - Only a few plans have added Descriptions, so Keyword search results will be limited.

Documents - Some Documents may be a published photo of a site and the Description text would include cultural landscape terms in {} as appropriate. See below under Images for terms.

Images - For purposes of narrowing the set of images the Description includes bracketed text with certain terms typically used to describe a cultural landscape, such as {Vista - Vegetation - Circulation}. The terms are described below. Search results will only show exact matches of the Keyword text entered.

Keyword Terms

Spatial Organization - shows a relationship between spaces. Refers to the three-dimensional organization and patterns of spaces in a landscape. Both the functional and visual relationship between spaces is integral to the historic character of a property.

Vista - shows a view or vista from the site. Vistas show the natural landforms and features that provide context or setting for the site and typically have been framed by the site design.

Vista-Water - shows a view or vista of a natural body of water, such as a lake, sound or ocean.

Topography> - illustrates the topography of the overall site or feature of the site. Topographic features may contribute to the creation of outdoor spaces, serve a functional purpose, or provide visual interest.

Vegetation - shows distinctive vegetation. Vegetation may derive its significance from historical associations, horticultural or genetic value, or aesthetic or functional qualities. It is a primary dynamic component of the landscape’s character.

Circulation - shows a circulation route, such as path, trail, driveway, parkway, boulevard or road. The character of circulation features is defined by factors such as alignment, width, surface and edge treatment, grade, materials, and infrastructure.

Circulation-Boulevard - shows a parkway or boulevard.

Water Feature - shows constructed water features. May be aesthetic as well as functional components of the landscape and include fountains, pools, cascades, irrigation systems, ponds, lakes, streams, and aqueducts.

Structure - structures are non-habitable, constructed features.

Site Furnishing - shows site furnishings or objects, such as sculptures, related to the site. These small-scale elements in the landscape may be functional, decorative, or both.

Building - shows a building or buildings as a prominent feature of the image or the relationship of the landscape to the building. Buildings have walls and roofs and are generally habitable.

Additional Terms Related to Images

  • aerial when image provides an aerial perspective
  • illustration when image is a sketch or illustration
  • photo when postcard is an actual photo
  • plan when image includes a plan, such as on an interpretive panel
  • text when image includes text, such as a photo album label, interpretive sign or plaque, but not just a descriptive title of image(s).