Catalogue description Manuscripts, printed books, correspondence and miscellaneous papers of Sir Ebenezer Howard and his personal representatives, 1879-1941

This record is held by Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies

Details of DE/Ho
Reference: DE/Ho
Title: Manuscripts, printed books, correspondence and miscellaneous papers of Sir Ebenezer Howard and his personal representatives, 1879-1941
Date: 1879 - 1941
Held by: Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Howard, Ebenezer, 1850-1928, founder of the Garden City movement

Physical description: 16 series
Immediate source of acquisition:

Acc 1061


Deposited in 1965

Custodial history:

Ebenezer Howard was born on 29 January 1850 in the City of London. He went to school for a short time in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire. Early in 1872 he went to America where he spent a few months in Nebraska. He then moved to Chicago where he worked for four years as a stenographer (shorthand writer) with Ely & Burnham. He returned to England in 1877 and took employment with Gurney & Sons, official reporters to the Houses of Parliament. He was a shorthand writer by profession working with business partners (see DE/Ho/F13/1-2). He later worked freelance until his retirement in 1920.


His other business interests included the development of printing machines for which he took out various patents (see DE/Ho/F14). He also worked for many years without any commercial success to perfect a shorthand typewriter and write the required text book. This project was abandoned by his son Arthur (also a shorthand writer) in the 1930s.


In 1898 he published Tomorrow: a peaceful path to real reform to worldwide acclaim. In 1899 he founded The Garden City Association (from 1909 known as the Garden Cities and Town Planning Association) - became Town and Country Planning Association in 1941.


He founded Letchworth (1903) and Welwyn Garden City (1919) and was a director of Garden City Ltd.


He married twice - had a son (Arthur Cecil) and two daughters by first wife Lizzie died 1904. He was awarded the OBE in 1924 and knighted in 1927. He died on 1 May 1928 leaving a second wife Edith née Knight


Sir Ebenezer Howard left all his papers, then at his home address of 5 Guessens Road, Welwyn Garden City to his son Arthur Cecil Howard in his will dated 12 April 1928 (see DE/Ho/F26). However it is clear from the later correspondence that some may well have been destroyed by Lady Howard before Arthur took possession of them (see DE/Ho/F27). The torn correspondence in bundle DE/Ho/F33 would appear to be the contents of a waste paper basket.


These papers have clearly been through many hands since the 1930s. One of the most notable of these was Sir Frederic Osborn (FJO) who has left many pencilled notes on them and appears to have made an attempt to classify them by numbering them in blue crayon. The records as they survive now in Hertfordshire Archives do not form as complete a series as FJO must have seen. FJO loaned many of them to C B Purdom and some may not have been returned (see note kept together with bundle DE/Ho/F3). As far as is possible original bundles have been kept together even though their contents are at times miscellaneous.


Business records of a number of the Welwyn Garden City companies are also held at Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies under the references DE/Es and DE/Ff.

  • Garden Cities and Town Planning Association, 1909
  • Town and Country Planning Association, 1941
  • Garden City Association, 1899
  • Letchworth, Hertfordshire
  • Welwyn, Hertfordshire
  • Urban Planning
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