THE JOHN W. GEIGER COLLECTION
FOR THE STUDY OF
The Library contains 204 books and one elephant folio. While the collection is most easily searched through the database interface, the inventory is presented here alphabetically by author last name with comment on condition and other special notes.
John Geiger gave much care and attention to his collection of books and periodicals. His library was the primary source from which he created the database of Frank Lloyd Wright drawings and related references that constitutes a significant contribution to the study of organic architecture. He also gathered other many publications reflecting diverse interests in art, literature, history, and cultural study. Geiger was meticulous in cataloging the bibliographic resources he possessed, and the full extent of his library as it existed at his death can be seen through the database records he created. A sample printout prepared by Geiger can be taken as an example [PDF].
Geiger indicated that only materials related directly to his study of organic architecture, particularly those concerning architectural works by Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin community, were to be deposited with his archival collection. Aside from their relationship to the scholarship shown through the database, the choice of books found in the Geiger collection presents the unique view of a perceptive scholar and trained architect who was also a long time participant in the extended Taliesin community. Geiger focused mostly on collecting books and other publications that contained reproductions of drawings as well as analytical works by architectural historians. He was not usually interested in those containing mostly photographs and whose texts were of a general interest character. His primary focus was the study of architectural projects by Wright and secondarily the associated personalities and social experience of the Taliesin community.
Among the most prized of his library resources is the twelve volume Frank Lloyd Wright Monograph and Preliminary Studies by Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer and Yukio Futagawa, published by A. D. A. Edita in Tokyo between 1986 and 1991. In addition, Geiger acquired the eight volume set of Frank Lloyd Wright Selected Houses by the same authors, also published by A. D. A. Edita between 1989 and 1991. Other important and rare books include the two volume set of Global Interior: Houses by Frank Lloyd Wright [Furanku roido raito no jūtaku], by Yukio Futagawa [Tokyo: A.D.A. Edita (1975-1976)]; an original Ausgefuhrte Bauten, Verlegt Bei Ernst Wasmuth [Berlin] (1911) obtained as a personal gift from Wright in the 1950s; and a first edition, autographed by Wright, of the seminal Frank Lloyd Wright: The Life-Work of the American Architect published by Hendrikus Theodorus Wijdeveld in the Dutch art magazine Wendigen [Santpoort, Holland, C. A. Mees] (1925).
As a body, the books in the Geiger collection constitute a comprehensive record of the publication of architectural drawings by Frank Lloyd Wright for nearly a century. Those chosen by Wright for his own presentation purposes, such as the Wasmuth portfolio, can be compared with others deemed important by succeeding generations of scholars. The critical review of many projects can can be traced chronologically by the choice of sketches, renderings, or working drawings. The impact of the same drawing on scholarship may be assessed through improvements in reprographic technique, and as different drawings appear for the same project over time the deeper conceptual process behind the design becomes more visible. This evolutionary process of revelation particularly interested Geiger, and he made note of such relationships in his database for further study. He was, unfortunately, unable to fulfill his wish to acquire the Frank Lloyd Wright - Selected Drawings elephant portfolios [Horizon Books/ A. D. A. Edita (1982)] to accompany his similarly sized copy of Frank Lloyd Wright: Buildings Plans and Designs [Horizon Press] (1963).
Among the last books Geiger purchased, and which he considered to be to be extremely significant to his work, are the three volumes of Frank Lloyd Wright: Complete Works (1885-1916, volume 1; 1917-1942, volume 2; and 1943-1959, volume 3) produced by Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer and Peter Gössel and published by Taschen between 2009 and 2011. He regretted that weakening health limited his study of them, but entered drawings from volumes 2 and 3 into his database. Volume 1 was not released until after his death, but was acquired at his instruction for the completeness of his collection.
Geiger also gave deep consideration to the writings of Frank Lloyd Wright, accumulating quotations from these sources to support his theses about various Wright house designs. Almost every book published by Wright during his lifetime is present in the collection, most notably first editions of An Organic Architecture, The Architecture of Democracy (1939); Modern Architecture: Being the Kahn Lectures for 1930 (1931); Two Lectures on Architecture (1931); The Disappearing City (1932); An Autobiography (1943); When Democracy Builds (1945); The Natural House (1954); The Future of Architecture (1956); and A Testament (1957). The collection also contains a first edition of Architecture and Modern Life, co-authored by Wright with Baker Brownell (1939).
Volumes compiled by others of Frank Lloyd Wright writings include the comprehensive five volume set of Frank Lloyd Wright: Collected Writings edited by Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer, a Taliesin Apprentice and longtime archivist of the Frank Lloyd Wright Archives (these books are much illustrated with reproductions of Wright drawings additionally of interest to Geiger for his database records); Frank Lloyd Wright: The Phoenix Papers [volumes 1 and 2] (1994-1995) and Frank Lloyd Wright and Lewis Mumford: Thirty Years of Correspondence (2001), also edited by Pfeiffer; and An American Architecture (1955) edited by Edgar Kaufmann, Jr.
A variety of monographs relate to the cultural history of the Taliesin Fellowship and extended community. Books by Wright family members include My Father Who Is On Earth by John Lloyd Wright (1946); and Frank Lloyd Wright: His Life, His Work, His Words, by Olgivanna Lloyd Wright (1966). The earliest study is A Goodly Fellowship (1939) by educator Mary Ellen Chase. During a life long friendship Geiger shared his knowledge and analysis with Curtis Besinger [Working with Mr. Wright: What It Was Like (1995)]. This process of discovery is reflected in a voluminous correspondence that contains much analysis of architectural projects and experiences with Frank Lloyd Wright and others in the Taliesin community.
Some books contain acknowledgements by the author(s) reflecting contributions by Geiger to their research. He developed friendships with architectural historians such as Mark Hertzberg [Wright in Racine: The Architect's Vision for One American City (2004), and Frank Lloyd Wright's Hardy House (2006)] and frequently provided excerpts from his database concerning the Taliesin Fellowship to other researchers. For example, Geiger offered insights to Roger Friedland and Harold Zellmann for The Fellowship: The Untold Story of Frank Lloyd Wright amd the Taliesin Fellowship (2006).