Some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What is the "historic job number"?
2. Why can't I find what I'm looking for?
3. I'm getting way too many search results!
4. I'm not getting enough search results!
5. Why aren't there any digital materials here?
6. Are all available Olmsted documents in this database?
7. I've found information about the records I want to see, so now what?
8. I have a great idea of how to improve your site (or I found a typo!)...

1. What is the "historic job number?"
The “historic job number” is the unique project number given to every job the Olmsteds considered, executed, or advised upon.
Given the amount of business of the Olmsted firm, all projects were given individual project numbers to track plans, photographs, planting lists, correspondence and pretty much anything else related to a project. So, for example, the "historic job number" for Fort Tryon in New York is 529, while Volunteer Park in Seattle is job number 2695. This number was written on nearly every piece of paper received or generated by the firm. To this day, this system continues to serve the same function. Before starting any research, it is useful to have that job number available to more easily access a project's records. The job number can be found by searching the Master List of Projects. Remember, because of the structure of the database, job number searches need to be entered as five digits such as 00529 and 02695.

2. Why can't I find what I'm looking for?
It could be a number of things including spelling, alternate names (historic or contemporary), or abbreviations.
There may be a couple reasons you're having trouble finding the information you're seeking.
  • All Advanced Search requests must include some search term; a search using only the pull-down menus on the "Advanced Search" pages will result in an invalid search and return no hits. To find all cemetery projects in California, for example, try entering cemeteries as a keyword and select "California" from the state pull-down menu, or, conversely, california as a keyword and "Type 08 Monument & Statue Designs & Cemeteries" from the project-type pull-down menu.
  • Confirm the correct spelling of your search terms.
  • Variant spellings may also be to blame: try using Centre instead of Center or Porto instead of Puerto, since database entries were faithfully transcribed directly from the historical document. Other name variations are part of a project’s history: properties passed from one owner to another and sometimes from private owner to institutional ownership throughout the Olmsteds' involvement.
  • Also, projects may be known by multiple names: Florida's Mountain Lake project (which may be abbreviated as Mt. Lake or Mtn. Lake in the database) may overlap with Lake Wales, Florida. Subdivision work may overlap with the work done on individual owners' properties. Master list entries always reflect the location of the property, regardless of the owner's location (work being done on a winter home in Florida, for example, will reflect the Florida location, regardless of the owner's primary Maine residence).
  • Capitalization does not affect your search.
  • Also, the search will ignore punctuation, so that, while seeking records of Harold H. Blossom, an archival records search on HHB will find only one record, but a search on either “H.H.B.” (with periods separating the initials) or “H H B” (with spaces separating the initials) will find the same 166 records. (A thorough researcher should also try simply "Blossom" as well as "B H H" since some entries are formatted in a last-initial first style, "B., H.H."; the most thorough search will incorporate all of these using the "OR" selection on the advanced search page, like this: "h h b" OR "b h h" OR "blossom", bringing up more records).
  • Truncating words can be useful and is done with the asterisk sign; so, a keyword search on arbor* will bring up records containing arboretum, arboreta, arboreal, arbors, arborist, arborists, and so on; the more you truncate, the wider net you cast and the more search results you'll get back.
  • If you don't find what you're looking for, keep searching: utilize the Archives database search to broaden your Master List searches.
3. I'm getting way too many search results!
You may want to narrow your search.
Looking for simply hospital on the master list search will return many pages worth of hospital projects. On the advanced master list search, you can search for keyword: hospital and location: Massachusetts, which shortens the list quite a bit. There are many ways to refine a search on the master list advanced search page (by client name, location, or project type, for example) and the archival records advanced search page (by job number, date of document, title of document, or type of document).
Use quotation marks to find phrases.
On both the basic and advanced searches of both the Master List and Archival Records search screens, quotation marks can be used to search for phrases. A search on the homepage’s Master List for newport hospital without quotation marks finds over 120 results, since it looks for any job that contains either newport or hospital. But a search on “newport hospital” – with quotation marks – finds just the two records related to this property.

4. I'm not getting enough search results!
You may want to broaden your search.
Use the search tips above or simply use fewer search terms. From an example above, entering "harold hill blossom" finds only 16 records; entering simply blossom finds many more, even though some of those documents may relate to blossom dates rather than documents involving Mr. Blossom.

5. Why aren't there any digital materials here?
We're digitizing materials as quickly as we can (both at researcher request as well as comprehensively creating digital copies of the entire plans and drawings collection; the entire historic photograph album collection has been digitized and is available to the public). While we scan, we're still in the process of finding the best method of getting those materials to the public. The ORGO database may end up being that access point for the public, or it may be another Digital Archives program that is compatible with other NPS programs. While this is being assessed, we're using Flickr for its ease of use on both input from our side and output on the researcher side. Our Flickr photostream is searchable (to search within Olmsted NHS materials only, look for the small magnifying glass above the top line of images at the right) and is discoverable through the big search engines, while also being organized into albums and collections based on Olmsted project number. Remember, ORGO is comprehensive but not digital (yet, perhaps), Flickr is digital but not comprehensive, i.e. as materials get digitized, they are introduced into the photostream. At this point, it's best to use the two resources side-by-side. Please visit our main Flickr page:
Collections arranged by Olmsted project number can be browsed at:
(It's a large page with a lot of data, so if it doesn't load correctly, try re-loading the page).

6. Are all available Olmsted documents in this database?
Only portions of materials from Olmsted National Historic Site (Olmsted NHS) and the Library of Congress (LC) are available through ORGO.

Olmsted National Historic Site:
  • all 139,042 plans and drawings;
  • the job-related photograph album collection;
  • the planting list collection;
  • the lithograph collection;
  • a small collection of handwritten reports of visits by JCO (approx. 75 items);
  • a collection of contracts and agreements (approx. 100 items);
  • the NAB/NAC Collection (the firm's subject-oriented "vertical file" collection of photographs, ephemera, etc., some of which contain job-related information);
  • the Plans Inventory Cards; and
  • project-related correspondence predominantly post-dating 1949 that was kept by the firm after donations of material to the Library of Congress (although some occasional pre-1949 materials remain), as well as series of select files of earlier correspondence that were missed in those donations, notably, the New York Office, Western Office and California Office Correspondence

  • Not included: Many other collections not directly relating to specific Olmsted jobs are not present in this database. Olmsted NHS collections that are not related to specific jobs include numerous personnel, banking, and business records, historic trade catalog, library and periodical materials, planting reference materials and office diaries.

    Library of Congress Manuscript Division: Efforts have been made to include any document that could be identified with an Olmsted job number in these two collections:

    Included from the Frederick Law Olmsted Papers:
  • Selected Correspondence.

  • Included from the Olmsted Associates Records:
  • Correspondence Letterbooks, 1884-1899 ("Series A");
  • Correspondence Files, c.1871-1950 ("Series B");
  • portions of the General Correspondence ("Series C");
  • the "Reports of Visits" (project field reports) from the Business Records ("Series E"); and,
  • portions of the Family Papers ("Series H").

  • It should also be noted that there are documents (at the LC and elsewhere) that are not connected to specific jobs but that reflect the Olmsteds’ design principles. Some of these documents have been edited and published, notably in the Papers of Frederick Law Olmsted series from Johns Hopkins University Press.

    Keep in mind that the access to some historic records will not be available online. Therefore, it is always wise to consult with the staff at institutions for help in finding and getting access to historic materials.

    7. I've found information about the records I want to see, so now what?
    Contact them!
    To see the documents in this database, contact the owning institution that is named in each record to see how best to access the document.
    Library of Congress,
    Manuscript Reading Room
    Olmsted National Historic Site

    8. I have a great idea of how to improve your site (or I found a typo!)...
    We're always looking for ways to improve this site and are happy to hear from researchers. If you're experiencing any difficulty, want to share your experience using the site or have any feedback at all, feel free to drop us a note at frla_orgo@nps.gov. Remember, though, Olmsted Archives "content" questions should be sent to the Olmsted NHS staff at FRLA_Olmsted_Archives@nps.gov

    ORGO is a partnership project of the National Association for Olmsted Parks and the Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site with initial funding from the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training.
    Please direct any inquiries about the project to: frla_orgo@nps.gov.