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Lee Nelson papers

Identifier: Coll 334

Scope and Contents note

The collection consists of professional correspondence, reports, published pamphlets, articles, catalogs, manuscripts, photographs and slides, and college course work.

The bulk of the material was generated during Nelson's career at the National Park Service and includes material relating to his activities in helping to preserve Independence Hall in Philadelphia and other historic buildings, including the White House.


  • 1957-1994


Conditions Governing Access note

Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time.

Conditions Governing Use note

Property rights reside with Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections and University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.

Biographical/Historical note

Lee H. Nelson (1927-1994) was born in Portland, Oregon, in 1927, the son and grandson of Norwegian carpenters. He received an undergraduate degree in architecture from the University of Oregon in 1957, and a Master's in Architecture from the University of Illinois in 1958. That same year he embarked on a lifelong career with the National Park Service (NPS), beginning with a summer internship doing architectural research and documentation drawings at Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland.

From 1960 to 1972 Nelson worked in the National Park Service, Division of Design and Construction in Philadelphia where, in connection with America's approaching bicentennial, he became part of a team documenting and restoring a number of buildings at Independence National Historical Park. In 1979, Nelson became chief of Technical Preservation Services, later renamed the Preservation Assistance Division, a position he held until his retirement in 1990.

During his years with the Park Service, Nelson helped formulate national policies on historic preservation, promoting the use of authentic materials to document physical data as a record for posterity. He received the NPS Meritorious Service Award in 1974, and the Distinguished Service Award in 1988. Nelson was a founding member of the Association for Preservation Technology and edited the Association's Bulletin for its first 10 years. He was a fellow of the American Institute of Architects and was active in the AIA Historic Resources Committee. Lee Nelson died in 1994.


39.5 linear feet (27 containers)

Language of Materials



Lee Nelson (1927-1994) was an American pioneer in historic and architectural preservation. The Lee Nelson Papers consist of professional correspondence, architectural drawings, published reports, pamphlets, articles, catalogs, manuscripts, photographs, and slides. The bulk of the material was generated during Nelson's career at the National Park Service, and includes material related to his activities in helping to preserve Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and other historic buildings, including the White House. This finding aid is a preliminary list of the contents of the Lee Nelson Papers.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Gift of Lois Nelson in 1999.

Lee Nelson Collection Bibliography

Created by Emily Vance, sponsored by the Historic Preservation Education Foundation.

Processing Information note

Collection processed by Earen Russell, Allison Dahlin, Kay Brooks and Linda Long in 2008 and updated by Rachel Lilley and Emily Vance in 2014.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Guide to the Lee Nelson Papers
Complete Description
Finding aid prepared by Earen Russell, Allison Dahlin, Kay Brooks, Rachel Lilley, Emily Vance and Linda Long
2009; 2014
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives Repository

1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1299 USA