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Clinton H. Cowgill Collection

Identifier: Ms-1978-009

Scope and Content

The Clinton H. Cowgill Collection, 1916-1977, contains information concerning Mr. Cowgill's association with Virginia Polytechnic Institute (now Virginia Tech) 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 following Cowgill's death, and various certificates and accolades. A humorous scrapbook entitled "Handbook of Architectural Malpractice" includes an assortment of personal photos and clippings.


  • 1916 - 1977


Language of Materials

The materials in the collection are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

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.

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 Virginia Polytechnic Institute (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.


0.5 Cubic Feet (1 box; 2 oversize folders)


The Clinton H. Cowgill Collection contains selected personal and professional correspondence, writing, incomplete architectural drawings, and career documentation of the founder of Virginia Polytechnic Institute's architecture program, Clinton H. Cowgill (1890-1975).


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

Source of Acquisition

The Clinton H. Cowgill Collection was donated to Newman Library in 1978. The addition of the 6 Whittemore Residence drawings were donated to the Art and Architecture Library in 2005 and transferred to Special Collections in 2008.

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 (

Processing Information

The processing, arrangement and description of the Clinton H. Cowgill Collection commenced in January 2008 and was completed in February 2008.

Clinton H. Cowgill Collection, 1916-1977
Emily Cook, Student Assistant, and Amy Vilelle, Archivist
2008 (CC0 1.0)
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech Repository

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