Cowgill, Clinton H., Collection

A Guide to the Clinton H. Cowgill Collection, 1916-1977 Ms.1978.009


Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech

Special Collections and University Archives, University Libraries (0434)
560 Drillfield Drive
Newman Library, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, Virginia 24061

Emily Cook; Amy Vilelle

Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech
Clinton H. Cowgill Collection,1916-1977
0.5 Cubic Feet 1 box; 2 oversize
Cowgill, Clinton Harriman, 1890-1975
The materials in the collection are in English.
The Clinton H. Cowgill Collection contains selected personal and professional correspondence, writing, incomplete architectural drawings, and career documentation of the founder of VPI's architecture program, Clinton Cowgill.

Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

The copyright status of this collection is unknown. Copyright restrictions may apply. Contact Special Collections and University Archives for assistance in determining the use of these materials. Reproduction or digitization of materials for personal or research use can be requested using our reproduction/digitization form: Reproduction or digitization of materials for publication or exhibit use can be requested using our publication/exhibition form: Please contact Special Collections and University Archives ( or 540-231-6308) if you need assistance with forms or to submit a completed form.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to research.

Preferred Citation

Researchers wishing to cite this collection should include the following information: [identification of item], [box], [folder], Clinton H. Cowgill Collection, Ms1978-009, Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va.

Source of Acquisition

The Clinton H. Cowgill Collection was donated to Newman Library in 1978.

Processing Information

The processing, arrangement and description of the Clinton H. Cowgill Collection took place in January and February 2008.

Biographical Note

In 1916, Clinton H. Cowgill (1890-1975) graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in Architecture and later received a master's degree from the same institution. In conjunction with an independent practice, Cowgill was in charge of teaching architectural design at Iowa State College for eight years until 1928. Changing universities, Cowgill founded the architectural engineering department at VPI (now Virginia Tech) in 1928 - establishing, at the time, the only architecture program in Virginia. Serving as head of the department for 28 years, Cowgill later became the namesake of the architecture building dedicated in 1960. During his time at Tech, Cowgill designed two houses in Blacksburg which are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Besides teaching, Cowgill published Architecture Practice and Building for Investment and was highly involved in professional organizations. Cowgill's professional involvement is apparent in his 1950 tenure as the President of the National Council of Architecture Registration Boards (NCARB) and his designation as a fellow of the American Institute of Architects (FAIA). Cowgill acted as the editor for the AIA until his retirement in 1961. Clinton H. Cowgill spent his retirement years in La Jolla, California with his wife, Mabel, until his death in 1975.

Scope and Contents

The materials in the Clinton H. Cowgill collection range from 1916 to 1977 and contain information concerning Mr. Cowgill's association with Virginia Tech (formerly VPI) and its architecture department, the founding of Cowgill Hall, Cowgill's involvement with the American Institute of Architects, the publication of Cowgill's books, and incomplete architectural drawings of a residence. The collection also contains personal documents such as a family tree, condolence letters (after Cowgill's death), and various certificates and accolades. Also included is a humorous scrapbook entitled "Handbook of Architectural Malpractice" which contains an assortment of personal photos and clippings.


Organized by subject, the larger sections include correspondence, photographs, and printed material (both published and non-published works).

Subjects and Indexing Terms

  • Cowgill, Clinton Harriman, 1890-1975
  • Faculty
  • University History
  • Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College and Polytechnic Institute (1896-1944)
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute (1944-1970)
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (1970-)

Rights Statement for Archival Description

The guide to the Clinton H. Cowgill Collection by Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech, is licensed under a CC0 (

Container List

box-folder 1 folder: 1
Speech by E. B. Cowgill, "Passengers on the 'Welcome,'" and Cowgill Family Tree,
1897; n.d.
box-folder 1 folder: 2
Executor Document from the Estate of Ben John Small,
box-folder 1 folder: 3
Cowgill Correspondence,
Mabel Cowgill Correspondence,
box-folder 1 folder: 41975-1976
box-folder 1 folder: 5
Newspaper Clippings and Pamphlet on Cowgill Hall,
box-folder 1 folder: 6
Certificates and Awards,
oversize folder: 1
Diplomas from the University of Illinois
box-folder 1 folder: 7-8
12 Photographs of Buildings Designed by Cowgill,
Scope and Contents note

Airplane Hanger for VPI; Residence for L. B. Dietrich; Residence for L. C. Beamer; Residence for Miss Hallie Hughes; Residence for Geo Herring; Residence for Reese Bryant; Res. for John Whittemore, Res. for C. A. Montgomery; Residence for H.W. Sanders; Dairy Husbandry Bldg, VPI; Dairy Husbandry Bldg, VPI; University Club (previous listings in Blacksburg, VA); Highway Commission, Ames, Iowa

box-folder 1 folder: 9
Introduction to Parts 1 and 2 of "Urbanization" with captions,
box-folder 1 folder: 10-11
Unpublished manuscript, "Urbanization," Chapters 1-9,
box-folder 1 folder: 12
Notes on Architectural Practice by Cowgill,
box-folder 1 folder: 13
Bulletin of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute,
box-folder 1 folder: 14
"Handbook of Architectural Malpractice"
oversize folder: 2
6 Reproduction Drawings for the Residence of Prof. and Mrs. John Whittemore