@Dumbarton Oaks

Collection MS.GL.001 - David Robbins Coffin Papers, 1918-2003

Identity area

Reference code



David Robbins Coffin Papers, 1918-2003


  • 1918-2003 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

Approximately 40 linear feet, including:
38 boxes of notebooks
3 boxes of offprints
3 boxes of catalog cards
7 boxes of negatives
3 boxes of slides
11 boxes of unprocessed materials, papers and photographs

Context area

Name of creator

Coffin, David R. (1918-2003)

Biographical history

American historian of Renaissance gardens and landscape architecture. Coffin taught at Princeton University from 1949-1988, serving as chair of the art and archaeology department from 1964-1970. In addition, Coffin was the first chairman of the Garden Advisory Committee for Dumbarton Oaks, which led to the establishment of a scholarly program for garden and landscape studies in 1971. Coffin also organized the first garden symposium at Dumbarton Oaks in 1971, which focused on his métier, Italian gardens.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

In 2009, Dumbarton Oaks acquired the Coffin papers from his estate and the collection was transferred from Coffin's residence and the Department of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University in Princeton, NJ.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

The collection consists of Coffin's personal papers and materials relating to his teaching career at Princeton University and his scholarly research interests in Renaissance architecture and garden history. Materials include notebooks, index cards, correspondence, typescripts, course syllabi, class and lecture notes, and offprints. Of particular note are Coffin's notebooks, which contain extensive research notes on English, French, and Italian gardens. There is also a significant amount of visual material, including photographs, slides, microfilm, and negatives.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

The collection has not been processed and is only partially rehoused. For more information or for access to the collection, please consult ICFA staff.

Conditions governing reproduction

Duplication of materials in the collection may be governed by copyright and other restrictions.

Language of material

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

An unpublished draft inventory of Coffin's notebooks is available for consultation in the Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Notes area

Access points

Place access points

Name access points

Description control area

Description identifier


Institution identifier


Rules and/or conventions used

Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS)



Level of detail





Archivist's note

The archive was partially processed by Gerrianne Schaad, ICFA Curator in 2009-2010.

Rights area

Related right





Start date

End date

Rights holder

Rights note(s)

Preferred Citation: David Robbins Coffin Papers, 1918-2003, MS.GL.001, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks, Trustees for Harvard University, Washington, D.C.



Related right





Start date

End date

Rights holder

Rights note(s)

Copyright for David Coffin materials belongs to Dumbarton Oaks. However, permission to publish materials created by other correspondents must be obtained from the copyright holder.



Copyright status

Under copyright

Copyright status date

Copyright jurisdiction

Copyright note

Accession area