firm active: 1907-1921

minneapolis, minnesota :: chicago, illinois
philadelphia, pennsylvania :: portland, oregon

Navigation :: Home :: Writings and Publications
Biographical and Historical Research Manuscripts

"Review of Gebhard Thesis"
William Gray Purcell (1950s)

Summary: Purcell completed the essential core of whatever autobiographical book that he might have written as a response to reviewing the content of the doctoral thesis written by David Gebhard in the early 1950s. Portions of this draft, mostly composed in the first person in this version, was apparently first written in the third person. The text extends to more than 175 typescript pages and is clearly in a finished state in most sections, much more so than the Parabiographies. Purcell touches on all aspects of his own development including his childhood, family background, education, apprenticeship experiences, and practice as an architect. He also provides significant biographical sections on George Grant Elmslie and John Jager before turning his attentions on the work of Purcell & Elmslie as a firm -- although that latter portion of the draft is relatively brief. Organized with information previously scattered throughout correspondence with Gebhard and other architectural historians, this work represents a full historical treatment by Purcell of his life and works, as he saw them. In terms of Purcell's long production of biographical writings, this document is quite literally near to the last word.

Editor's notes: Because typographical layout was a creative medium for Purcell and he was working with the possibilities available through a typewriter, this manuscript has a particular format that is reflected here to the extent possible in an entirely different medium. Purcell used capital lettering for section emphasis and various publication titles because font was not a choice available to him. Most capitalization has been retained; only publication titles are italicized. Underlining is also show where it occurs in the original. In places minor spelling differences have been brought into conformance with present usage in order to avoid confusion.

Some few pages of the draft have hand written corrections by Purcell; these are commented in this presentation with an editor's note and certain passages contain bracketed material indicating text later struck by Purcell. Page breaks are indicated; the original typescript is double-spaced. A few of the later chapters have inserted materials, including a couple of letters to David Gebhard and some general note pages. Two of these have been left in sequence to preserve the original intent; two notes suggesting general research methodology have been omitted. The copy available to me did not have a Purcell and Elmslie - Part II. Such a section may not have been created, as Part I ends with a list of works by the firm considered by Purcell to be the most important; possibly the Gallagher dwelling notes are related to the intended Part II essay. The dates shown on the individual chapters are those given on the version of the manuscript from which these pages were typed, and reflect an ongoing revision process by Purcell over nearly two years.


research courtesy mark hammons