Special Collections Department
403 Parks Library
Iowa State University
Ames, IA 50011-2140

MS 218
Warren H. (Warren Henry) Manning (1860-1938)
Papers, 1882-2007, undated

Descriptive summary


Manning, Warren H. (Warren Henry) (1860-1938)




1882-2007, undated


138.64 linear feet (71 document boxes, 1 half-document box, 30 lantern slide boxes, 5 card file boxes, 3 oversize boxes, 63 tubes, and 14 map case drawers)

collection number:

MS 218


Special Collections Department, Iowa State University.


Administrative information


Open for research

publication rights:

Consult Head, Special Collections Department

preferred citation:

Warren H. Manning Papers, MS 218, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University Library.


Biographical note

The career of the landscape architect Warren H. Manning (1860-1938) looms large in the period between the era of Frederick Law Olmsted and the mid-twentieth century. Manning exercised a pivotal role in the development of American landscape architecture.

Warren Manning was trained by one of the leading nineteenth-century New England practitioners of landscape horticulture--his father, Jacob Warren Manning (1826-1904)--and by the foremost landscape architect of the era, the "father" of the profession in America in popular perception, Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr. (1822-1903). Manning joined the firm of Frederick Law Olmsted in Brookline, Massachusetts, as planting supervisor in 1888. Because of his superior horticultural knowledge, Manning assumed an ever-widening role in the firm's work. In his eight-year tenure with Olmsted, Manning worked on 125 projects in 22 states, including the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, and municipal park work in Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Trenton, Rochester, and Washington, D.C.

In 1896 Manning began his own practice as an independent landscape designer. Manning's office (at various times in Boston, Billerica, and Cambridge, Massachusetts) provided an apprenticeship setting for a group of men and women who charted significant directions for twentieth-century landscape planning and design. They included Albert D. Taylor, Fletcher Steele, Wilbur D. Cook Jr., Marjorie Sewell Cautley, and Helen Bullard, among others.

Manning was a pioneer in two principal areas: resource-based design and planning, and community-based participatory design. He was a founder of the American Society of Landscape Architects, which first met in New York in 1899 with 11 charter members. Manning was a very important national publicist for landscape architecture and town planning. His client list included not only the captains of industry of his age--including James Tufts, Cyrus H. McCormick, William G. Mather, Frederick Pabst, August and Adolphus Busch, Frank Seiberling, and Joseph Pulitzer--but also many government agencies and community groups.

Manning developed an environmental planning model based on the concept of gathering and organizing discrete types of environmental data, such as soils and vegetative cover, in mapped form, using gridded maps in particular. Similar mapping and overlay analysis is quite common today. What began as regional mapping evolved into what Manning termed the National Plan, a document representing an early attempt to provide a statistical profile of the entire country. The principal contribution of Manning's National Plan (1919) was the concept of a land classification system that could be used by governmental units to control the exploitation of natural resources and to evaluate scenic beauty. Manning's national planning work was undertaken on his own initiative. It was an inspiration for the more structured efforts of the National Resources Planning Board during the Roosevelt administrations.


Collection description

The collection (1882-2007, undated) contains material related to Manning's work on the National Plan, speeches, articles, reports, client lists, drawings and plans from more than fifty of Manning's projects, glass lantern slides, and photographs.



The collection is organized into the following series:

  • Series 1, Personal Papers, 1900-1985, undated
  • Series 2, Drawings, 1891-1929, undated
  • Series 3, Lantern Slides, ca. 1900-1930, undated
  • Series 4, Lantern Slide Photographic Prints, ca. 1900-1930, undated
  • Series 5, Photographs and Clippings, 1883-1927, undated
  • Series 6, Printed Materials, 1882-2007, undated


The full finding aid is available at http://findingaids.lib.iastate.edu/spcl/manuscripts/MS218.pdf (2.2 MB).