Oberlin College and Conservatory

On Thomas Jefferson's Libraries - A Talk by John Harwood

Saturday, November 4, 2017 at 3:00pm to 4:00pm

Mudd Center, Seeley G. (Terrell Main Library), 113
148 West College Street, Oberlin, OH 44074

John Harwood, PhD, of the University of Toronto will give a talk, "On Thomas Jefferson’s Libraries; Or, Re-Constituting American Architectural Knowledge." 

The Thomas Jefferson Architectural Books Collection in the art library at Oberlin College is a unique assemblage of media documenting the state of the art of architecture—and much else besides—in the early modern period. 

It is also part of a long American tradition, initiated in part by Jefferson himself, of duplicating institutional collections of books in order to form the bases for novel institutions of higher education.

This talk will investigate how Oberlin’s collection provides insight into the patterns of development of architectural knowledge in the United States, with particular attention to how the collection can be used as a pedagogical instrument in investigating some of the more troubling aspects of that history.

Harwood is an associate professor of architecture in the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design at the University of Toronto. His book, The Interface: IBM and the Transformation of Corporate Design, 1945-1976 (2011) won the prestigious Alice Davis Hitchcock Award, given for “the most distinguished work of scholarship in the history of architecture by a North American scholar” from the Society of Architectural Historians in 2014. 

While at Oberlin, Harwood taught two seminars on the Thomas Jefferson Architectural Book Collection.


Event Type



Administrative, Oberlin College Libraries




free and open to the public

Contact Person

Barbara Prior

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