A Guide to the Ethel Bailey Furman, Papers and architectural drawings, 1928-2003 Furman, Ethel Bailey, Papers and architectural drawings, 1928-2003 41145

A Guide to the Ethel Bailey Furman, Papers and architectural drawings, 1928-2003

A Collection in
the Library of Virginia
Accession Number 41145


Library of Virginia

The Library of Virginia
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Richmond, Virginia 23219-8000
Phone: (804) 692-3888 (Archives Reference)
Fax: (804) 692-3556 (Archives Reference)
Email: archdesk@lva.virginia.gov(Archives)
URL: http://www.lva.virginia.gov/

© 2005 By the Library of Virginia. All rights reserved.

Processed by: Vincent T. Brooks

Library of Virginia
Accession number
Ethel Bailey Furman, Papers and architectural drawings, 1928-2003
Physical Characteristics
108 sheets (mostly tracing paper and graphite, some blueprints and Diazo prints, 92 x 61 cm. and smaller), 38 leaves, 1 sound recording

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Collection is open to research.

Use Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Preferred Citation

Ethel Bailey Furman, Papers and architectural drawings, 1928-2003, Accession 41145. Personal Papers Collection, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Va.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. J. Livingston Furman, Richmond, Virginia, 26 February 2004.

Biographical/Historical Information

Ethel Bailey Furman (1893-1976), probably the first practicing African-American female architect in Virginia, studied architecture with a private tutor in New York City circa 1915 and at the Chicago Technical Institute from 1944-1946. A Richmond native and daughter of a promient African-American builder, for many years she worked out of the home built by her father, Madison J. Furman, at 3025 Q Street. She is credited with nearly two hundred public and private designs in Richmond and the surrounding area, including Fair Oak Baptist Church (Richmond, Virginia), St. James Baptist Church (Goochland County, Virginia), the Robert J. Wilder home (Richmond, Virginia), and Mount Nebo Baptist Church (New Kent County, Virginia). Furman was active in a number of civic organizations and church groups. Two of the architect's designs were donated to the Lott Carey Missionary League and were erected in Liberia, Africa. Ethel Bailey Furman died in Richmond on Tuesday, February 24, 1976.

Scope and Content

This accession consists of architectural drawings and plans, newspaper clippings, photographs, a research paper, and ephemera related to the life and career of Ethel Madison Bailey Furman. Research shows Furman to be the first practicing female African-American architect in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Series I : Papers, 1928-2003, consists primarily of items collected by her son, J. Livingston Furman, relating to or written about Ethel Bailey Furman's career. The folder contains a photograph of the architect at the 1928 "Negro Contractors' Conference" at Hampton Institute, an invoice from M. J. Bailey, an article from the Pittsburgh Courier on Furman, various modern-day photographs of Furman buildings, and sundry ephemera. The materials also include a research paper and prints of slides researched and written by Jessica Breeden for the American Institute of Architects lecture at Fourth Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia, on April 16, 1997. A sound recording of the presentation is also contained in this series. Unfortunately, the majority of Ms. Furman's early drawings, client correspondence, and other business materials were lost during a household move necessitated by failing health in her latter years. This collection represents all of the surviving materials from Ethel Bailey Furman's architectural practice.

Series II : Drawings, 1939-1976, consists of pencil and tracing paper drawings for public and private structures designed by Furman during latter part of her architectural practice. This series makes up the bulk of the collection. The buildings depicted were designed for middle- and upper middle-class African-American families and religious institutions. Of particular note are the numerous commissions for the Snead family of Goochland County.


Arranged in two series. Series I : Papers, 1928-2003, is organized alphabetically by folder title. Series II : Drawings, 1939-1976, is arranged alphabetically by client and chronologically thereunder.

Contents List

Series I: Papers, 1928-2003
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Series II: Drawings, 1939-1976
Tracing paper, Diazo prints, blueprints.

Alphabetically by client and chronologically thereunder.

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