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Records of Howe, Manning and Almy, Inc. and the papers of Lois Lilley Howe, Eleanor Manning O'Connor, and Mary Almy

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MC-0009


The firm of Howe, Manning & Almy is believed to be the first architectural firm in Boston founded by women and the second in the United States. Lois Lilley Howe (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, SB 1890), whose commissions began in 1894, established her own firm in 1900 and asked Eleanor Manning (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, SB 1906), one of her draftsmen, to be her partner in 1913, creating the firm of Lois Lilley Howe & Manning. In 1926, another draftsman from the office, Mary Almy (Radcliffe College, 1905, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, SB 1922) became a partner, assuming responsibility for the business aspects of the firm. Manning focused on the technical architectural work and design problems, and Howe continued to concentrate on design. The firm dissolved in 1937 when Howe retired, and Manning and Almy started separate practices.

The emphasis of the firm was on domestic architecture and the partners did both building and remodeling. They were interested in urban housing problems and worked with the Architects' Small House Service Bureau of Massachusetts and the Boston Housing Association throughout the 1920s and 1930s. They submitted small house designs to the Department of the Interior for the Subsistence Homestead Communities, remodeled apartments for the Lynn Slum Clearance Project, and developed housing in Mariemont, Ohio. Materials of the firm include correspondence, financial data, reports, specifications, photographs, blueprints, drawings, and research materials that document the firm's projects and commissions.

The collection also includes personal papers of the three architects including illustrated travel diaries, watercolors, sketchbooks, and architecural scrapbooks. Records from Eleanor Manning O'Connor's private architectural work after 1937 and material from the Seventeen Associated Architects are included. There are a number of documents about the Howe family in the personal papers of Lois Lilley Howe.


  • 1883 - 1972


Access note

Materials in this collection are open unless they are marked as restricted. Restrictions are noted in the container list.

Intellectual Property Rights

Access to collections in the Department of Distinctive Collections is not authorization to publish. Separate written application for permission to publish must be made to Distinctive Collections. Copyright of some items in this collection may be held by respective creators, not by the donor of the collection.


25 Cubic Feet (21 record cartons, 4 manuscript boxes, 1 half manuscript box, 6 flat storage boxes, 1 small box, 1 roll, 54 oversize folders)

Language of Materials



Materials are stored off-site. Advance notice is required for use.


The Johnson O’Connor Research Foundation and the Human Engineering Laboratory of Boston gave the Howe, Manning & Almy records to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Museum in 1976. Records were transferred to the Institute Archives in 1978. In 1931, Eleanor Manning became Johnson O’Connor’s second wife; this marriage lasted until they died in 1973 within days of each other. Most of the papers were stored in the O’Connors' home at 381 Beacon Street and a few folders came from the Almy family papers that are in the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe College. Additional personal papers of Lois Lilley Howe were donated to the Institute Archives in 2009 by her grandniece.

Related Materials

Almy family papers, MC 235, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute.


  • “An Alumna’s Architectural Career,” Technology Review, vol. 66, no. 2 (December, 1963), pp. 21, 38.
  • Cole, Doris. The Lady Architects: Lois Lilley Howe, Eleanor Manning and Mary Almy: 1893-1937. New York: Midmarch Arts Press, 1990. MIT Libraries: NA737.H857.C65 1990.
  • Howe, Lois Lilley. Details from Old New England Houses, Measured and Drawn by Lois L. Howe and Constance Fuller. New York: The Architectural Book Publishing Co., 1913. MIT Libraries: NA707.H856

Processing Information

Verified and enhanced the Container, Box, Barcode data for S1 Box 1, S2 Box 14, S3 Box 1, S3 Box 3, S4 Box 14. smithkr 12/2017

Processing Information

Boxes in Series 3, Lois Lilly Howe papers, were renumbered in January 2019 to be continuous with the rest of the collection. Boxes 1 - 10 have been renumbered 25 - 34, respectively.
Guide to the Records of Howe, Manning & Almy, Inc. and the Papers of Lois Lilley Howe, Eleanor Manning O'Connor, and Mary Almy
Mary Jane McCavitt
Copyright 1980
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
A grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities supported the processing of materials in 1980.

Repository Details

Part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Libraries. Department of Distinctive Collections Repository

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries
Building 14N-118
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge MA 02139-4307 US