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Special Collections: Guide to the Irmgard and James Graham Papers

Arranged and described by Brenda Howitson Steeves
February 2010

Collection title: Irmgard and James Graham Papers
Collection number: MS 1575
Dates of collection: 1953-1990 (inclusive) 
Size of collection: 1 document box + 1 oversized folder


Irmgard B. Graham, the daughter of Carl and Emelie Griesier Berger, was born on November 24, 1902 in Hannover, Germany. She graduated from the Lowthorpe School of Landscape Architecture in 1924 having majored in landscape architecture and began her career working with the American landscape architect Ellen Shipman in New York. During World War II she was chair of the Rhode Island Camp and Hospital Council and Disaster Relief Call with the American Red Cross. She designed gardens for clients such as Smith’s Castle in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, and the Pettaquamscutt Historical Society in Kingstown, Rhode Island, as well as gardens for Mrs. Douglas Crocker and Mrs. Norman Harrower in Fitchburg, Massachusetts.

She married James Douglas Graham in 1929 and they lived in North Kingstown and East Greenwich, Rhode Island. After his death in 1972, Graham moved to Brandon, Vermont, where she died on December 14, 1991.

James D. Graham was born on May 30, 1902 in Fredericksburg, Iowa, the son of William J. and Myrtle Graham. Also a landscape architect, he was a graduate of Upper Iowa University and Iowa State College and did graduate work at Harvard and in Europe. He started work with Olmsted Brothers in Boston and later had a private practice with clients in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine. He served as a consultant with Kent, Cruise and Partners and was a professor in the department of landscape design at the Rhode Island School of Design. James Graham died on February 15, 1972.

Scope and Content Note

The collection contains a small amount of material documenting the careers of Irmgard B. and James D. Graham. It centers on Irmgard Graham’s designs for garden projects at Smith’s Castle, North Kingstown, Rhode Island, and for the Pettaquamscutt Historical Society in Kingston, Rhode Island. James Graham’s designs for various private homes in Providence are also found in the collection.

Contents of Box

Box 1


1 Obituaries, James and Irmgard Graham

2 Newspaper clippings re Irmgard Graham projects, Crocker and Harrower, Fitchburg

3 Irmgard Graham notebook

4 James Graham: First day cover, 1960, for post office at Providence, RI

5 Rhode Island School of Design 1986 Alumni Directory

6 Miscellaneous

Oversized folder containing:

Plans drawn by James D. Graham:

Mr. & Mrs. Lloyd Bliss, Providence, R.I., Landscape design plan, April 1965

Mr. & Mrs. William H. Edwards, Providence, R.I., Landscape design plan, April 1965

Mr. & Mrs. Karl Foss, Providence, R.I., Landscape design plan, Oct. 1963

Mr. & Mrs. Louis C. Gerry, Providence, R.I., Planting design plan for property, March 1956

Mr. & Mrs. William M. Kolb, Providence, R.I., Landscape design plan for property, Sept. 1957

Plans drawn by Irmgard B. Graham:

Layout and planting plans for 18th century garden at Smith’s Castle, Cocumscussoc, R.I., 1953-1955

Revised layout-garden beds, Mrs. Douglas Crocker, Fitchburg, Mass., 1967

Layout plan and planting plan for Pettaquamscutt Historical Society, Kingston, R.I., 1975

Other items:

Unidentified plan

Unidentified planting plan

Floor plans and elevations for unidentified house

USGS topographical quadrangle: Brandon, VT, 1946 (printed 1965)

Framed item:

Honorary degree of Bachelor of Fine Arts from Rhode Island School of Design to Irmgard Graham, May 5, 1990


Finding Aids for selected manuscript collections in the Special Collections Department at Fogler Library are accessible online in URSUS, in a browsable Guide to Manuscript Collections. Please contact Special Collections at or (207) 581-1686 for further information.

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Special Collections Staff: | Revised: 03/18/2015
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