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Collection C0010 - R.D. Bramwell collection

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R.D. Bramwell collection


  • [between 1960 and 1977] (Creation)

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16 photographs : b&w ; 21.5 x 17 cm

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Name of creator

Biographical history

Name of creator


Biographical history

Ebenezer Howard was born in London, England and, up to the age of fifteen, was educated in private boarding schools. On leaving school, he became a clerk in the City of London in the offices of stockbrokers, merchants, and solicitors. After teaching himself shorthand, he became private secretary to Congregationalist preacher Dr. Joseph Parker.
In 1872 Howard went to New York and from there to Chicago, where he became stenographer to the Law Courts. Here, the teachings of R. W. Emerson and Walt Whitman had a great influence on him, and he came to the conclusion that material conditions could be improved only if all values were assessed “by their influence on the spiritual elements in our nature”.
After returning to England in 1877, Howard once more became a stenographer, this time to the firm Gurney & Sons, reporters to the Houses of Parliament. Shortly afterwards he became a partner in the firm of William Treadwell and continued here until his retirement in 1920.
After reading Edward Bellamy’s book Looking Backward, Howard determined to help bring about a civilization based on service to the Community rather than on self-interest. In 1898 he published a book Tomorrow; a peaceful path to real reform which, in 1902, was republished as Garden Cities of Tomorrow.
Howard’s aim was to remedy overcrowding and unhealthy conditions as a result of excessive growth of cities by urging towns to purchase the land on which they were situated and lease lots for building purposes. A year after the publication of his book, he formed the Garden City Association and obtained enough support to form a company which began development of a large estate at Letchworth in Hertfordshire. In 1919 the company purchased an estate at Welwyn, also in Hertfordshire which, twelve years later, became Welwyn Garden City.
Howard’s revolutionary ideas triumphed when the City of Manchester decided to develop Wytenshawe estate as a satellite town according to his principles. In the United States, Radburn, New Jersey, was also built according to Howard’s Garden City ideas.
After World War I, the rapid growth of cities prompted successive governments, influenced by the success of Letchworth, to provide for the establishment of garden cities through additional legislation of the Housing Act. Howard’s ideas also exerted considerable influence on town planning schemes both in England and overseas, and the building of many municipal Cottage Estates can be traced directly to the inspiration derived from Letchworth.
Besides his work for the Garden Cities and improvements in town planning, Howard continued in his original profession as a shorthand writer and, besides this, was engaged in constructing a typewriter for shorthand. He died at Welwyn Garden City in May 1928.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

The prints were obtained by Dr. Bramwell for his publication: TOWNS AND CITIES: YESTERDAY, TODAY, AND TOMORROW, published in the Gage Urban Studies Series, 1977.

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Scope and content

Collection consists of photographs depicting Ebenezer Howard and his work. The majority of photographs are of Letchworth, Hertfordshire development, while there are others of Howard himself and his shorthand typewriter.

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