historical development

      The contents of the Geiger database reflect over 20 years of data collection and organization by a man with intimate understanding of a subject matter and access to a wide range of source materials and original participants. The main body of the records deals with architectural work by Frank Lloyd Wright and his associate community at the Taliesin Fellowship. The persistence of John Geiger in examining extensive publications and archival collections, gathering related biographical information, and correlating diverse streams of information into a unified data structure represents original and highly valuable of scholarship in the field of American progressive architectural history. In addition, Geiger created a record of his involvement with other Wright-related endeavors as well as maintained a finely granulated inventory of his personal interests and possessions.



John Geiger constructed his database with specific, though evolving, goals in mind. This was a tool he used daily for research as well as business and personal management functions. As data collection progressed, Geiger developed numerous search procedures to be able to quickly locate drawings related to a specific Frank Lloyd Wright architectural commission, cite further references in his library holdings, retrieve biographical and contact information related to the Taliesin community, and keep inventories of his working resources and personal possessions. He also used the database as a place to cache his thoughts, observations, and questions about his studies. Geiger created a wide variety of query formats to sort and group records alphabetically, chronologically, or geographically. In addition, he devised several special classification systems that served customized search strategies to evaluate designs by Frank Lloyd Wright in a variety of ways.

The final version of the Geiger database, JGDB10, contains 176 search formulas. Excluding duplicates and some non-functional queries, these procedures have been analyzed, described, and recreated in various forms to present results on this website. The older backup version of the database, JGDBFULL (circa 2000), contains 133 query procedures. These have been analyzed and described and results are presented where executable on Database JGDB10, the dataset supported by the website. Most of the excluded searches relate to production functions for the Journal of the Taliesin Fellows.


Using as a starting point the Directory of Members, 1932-1982, and Supplement produced by Elizabeth Kassler in the 1980s, John Geiger added further detail obtained through a series of biographical questionnaires responses from former Apprentices between 1988 and 1994. Other information was gathered from the Frank Lloyd Wright literature. Geiger also developed an extensive system of personnel classifications to indicate roles within the extended Taliesin community.

Understanding The Data

The Geiger database is an archival artifact whose content has been edited in accordance with his wishes to standardize and remove inconsistency, spelling errors, etc. During the recovery of the data files, there were many non-functional procedures. Some additional information has been added; most notably dates, which are supplied when Geiger did not enter one for the project. These introduced dates are taken from the Taschen monograph, and reflect the latest thoughts of the Wright archivist who had been working with the materials for 50 years. There are conflict between some dates published in earlier works Geiger included in his database, and dates given later; usually these are for obscure projects that may be represented by a single drawing that lacks much, if any, identifying information.

For consistency within the database, the list maintains the basic title style used originally by Geiger for his record entry.

The Frank Lloyd Wright Archives is the primary source for the bulk of Wright project drawings. The inventory system developed over time through the organization, use, and study of that collection plays an important role in understanding notes and other references found in the Geiger database. John Geiger often makes comparisons, for example, by referring to project numbers assigned in the Wright Archives, and these are joined frequently with individual drawing numbers. This search presents projects and drawing numbers according to the Wright Archives assignments. Drawings held in other collections may appear integrated into the scheme by Geiger through speculative placement indicated by a question mark.

There are many variations of Wright commission titles found in archival inventories and publications. An authority list compiled for use on this site combines information from the Frank Lloyd Wright Archives inventory, the Frank Lloyd Wright: The Complete Works volumes (representing the last assessment of projects by Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer), and The Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright: A Complete Catalog [updated 3rd edition] by William Allen Storrer. The authority list can be downloaded as a PDF.

There are three columns whose repeated presence served as the principal means to establish relationships between tables. These are: 1) project numbers derived from the Frank Lloyd Wright Archives drawing inventory; 2) client name, usually expressed in last name, first name format; and 3) unique numbers assigned to the names of individuals and archival objects such as books or drawings.


A large number of the records in the database refer to published drawings of Wright buildings, particularly those that appeared in the Monographs series and


the Geiger database is an excellent case study of the expansion of traditional scholarship through the use of informatic tools. The adoption of the DataEase application and the continued expansion of the resource through the many versions...