Archival Fragments and Personal Interests

Edgar Tafel was a man of many interests and not just an architect, a writer, a public speaker, and a community activist. And even though the archive is cohesive as whole, bringing together what one would normally expect of an architectural archive (project records, office files), Tafel’s archive also reflects his many interests, especially in the Writings section and the Reference files section.

Alexandrina Buchanan in “Cardiff and Miller’s Road Trip” says that the material fragments of archives are “crying out for human interpretation, which represent creative starting points rather than the closed records of completed actions” (Archivaria 73, pg. 21). If we apply this to Tafel’s archive, one can see the records of his completed actions –his architectural projects, his books- but also interesting are the incomplete fragments of projects or research that demand attention.

We can see in Tafel’s archive which architects he was interested in: Tafel collected research on Louis Sullivan and Stanford White. He also collected architectural postcards from places he visited and lectured at, including India, England, and Italy. One curious fragment of Tafel’s research is pictured in today’s post: a list of 7 architects’ unusual deaths. Perhaps Tafel was interested in the uncommon because he had been surrounded by exciting and sometimes controversial events at Taliesin and those connected to Frank Lloyd Wright’s life.

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If you didn’t know it already, the Frank Lloyd Wright’s archives are coming to the Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library! Wright’s archive will be a marvelous compliment to Tafel’s archive, and vice versa, being that both the master’s and his apprentice’s archive will be housed together here and able to be consulted simultaneously.

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