Presentations and syllabi about construction history

CHSA has compiled several presentations on construction history and several academic syllabi for construction history courses.

Engineering News Record Indexes

CHSA has been gifted by the Engineering News Record six volumes of indexes to their weekly issues from 1900 to 1943.  These are being held in the Georgia Institute of Technology library in the custody of Brian Bowen.  The volumes we have are indexed under main subject headings, such as Highways, Bridges, Buildings, Sewers, Concrete, Hydraulics, etc., and then by article heading with reference to the year, volume and page number.  Access to these is best found through a technical university library that can be identified via Worldcat.

ENR originated as two separate publications.  One was called “The Engineer and Surveyor” when it started publication in 1874, but was renamed “Engineering News” a year later.  In 1911 it was purchased by John A. Hill.  The second publication was originally called “The Plumber and Sanitary Engineer” and started in 1877.  By 1890 it was called “Engineering Record”.  In 1902 it was purchased by James H. McGraw.  The two magazines were competitors for some time, but eventually merged in 1917 to become the “Engineering News & Record”.  McGraw-Hill went on to become a powerhouse in publishing and data services to the construction industry.  More recently, in 2015, ENR (and Architectural Record) were sold to BNP Media.

If you have a subject that you are researching for which you need to check if ENR ever published any coverage, contact Brian at or call him at 404-378-3779.  For indexes prior to 1900 please contact Scott Lewis at ENR ( or 646-849-7121) – he has the only published indexes for that period.


Selected books on the history of construction

Addis, William. 3000 Years of Design, Engineering, and Construction. London: Phaidon Press, 2007.

Ammon, Francesca Russello. Bulldozer: Demolition and Clearance of the PostWar Landscape. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016.

Becchi, A., Carvais, R., Sakarovitch, J., et al. Construction History, A European Meridian. Paris: Association Francophone d’historie de la construction, 2015.

Campbell, James W.P. The Library: A World History. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013.

Campbell, James W.P.. Brick: A World History. London: Thames & Hudson, 2003.

Christianson, Justine and Marston, Christopher H, et al.,. Covered Bridges and the Birth of American Engineering. Washington, DC: Historic American Engineering Record, 2015.

Cleary, Richard Louis. The Place Royale and Urban Design in the Ancien Regime. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

Cleary, Richard Louis. Merchant Prince and Master Builder: Edgar J. Kaufmann and Frank Lloyd Wright. Pittsburgh: Carnegie Museum of Art and University of Washington Press, 1999.

Collette, Quentin. Riveted Connections in Historical Metal Structures (1840-1940). Hot-driven Rivets: Technology, Design and Experiments. June 2014.

Davis, Tim. National Park Roads: legacy in the American Landscape. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2016.

Fitch, James Marston and William Bobenhausen. American Building: The Environmental Forces That Shape It. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Friedman, Donald. Historic Building Construction: Design, Materials, and Technology. New York: WW Norton, 2010.

Gordon, J.E. Structures, or Why Things Don’t Fall Down. New York: Plenum Press, 1978.

Graham, Willie. “Timber Framing” in The Chesapeake House. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolian Press, 2013.

Gray, Lee Edward. From Ascending Rooms to Express Elevators: A History of the Passenger Elevator in the 19th Century. Mobile, AL: Elevator World, Inc., 2002.

Heyman, Jacques. Geometry and Mechanics of Historic Structures: A collection of 25 papers written between 1993 and 2004. Instituto Juan de Herrera, 2016.

Ibarra Sevilla, Benjamin. El arte de la cantera mixteca. Mixtec stonecutting artistry. Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2014.

Johnston, George. Drafting Culture: A Social History of Architectural Graphic Standards. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2008.

Leslie, Thomas. Chicago Skyscrapers, 1871 – 1934. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2013.

Meli, Roberto. Los Conventos Mexicanos del Siglo XVI: Construcciaon, Ingenieraia Estructural y Conservaciaon. Mexico City: Instituto de Ingenieraia Unam, 2011.

Nair, Stella. At Home with the Sapa Inca: Architecture, Space, and Legacy at Chinchero. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2015.

Nair, Stella and Protzen, Jean-Pierre. The Stones of Tiahuanaco: A Study of Architecture and Construction. Los Angeles: The Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press, University of California Los Angeles, 2013.

O’Brien, Michael J. A Catalog of Louis Sullivan Ornament 1881 – 1887. Bloomington, IN: Xlibris, 2007.

Ochsendorf, John. Guastavino Vaulting: The Art of Structural Tile. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2010.

Peters, Tom. Building the Nineteenth Century. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1996.

Peterson, Charles E. Building Early America. Radnor, PA: Chilton Book Company, 1976.

Schexnayder, Cliff. , PE. Builders of the Hoosac Tunnel. Lebanon, NH: University Press of New England, 2015.

Wagner, E. Logan. Ancient Origins Of The Mexican Plaza: From Primordial Sea to Public Space. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2013.

Wermiel, Sara. The Fireproof Building: Technology and Public Safety in the Nineteenth-Century American City. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 2000.


Selected videos and podcasts on construction history

History and construction podcasts by Michael J. O’Brien, includes 32 hours of podcasts on various construction-history topics.

History Channel Video and Film Topics

  • Berlin Wall
  • Great Wall of China
  • Middle Ages
  • Colosseum
  • Stonehenge
  • Transcontinental Railroad
  • Egyptian Pyramids
  • Latin American Pyramids
  • Pompeii
  • Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

Rebuilding the World Trade Center, Directed by Marcus Robinson

Building the Pyramids of Egypt …a detailed step by step guide.

Panama Canal Construction, CSPAN

Building the Brooklyn Bridge, David van Dyke

Construction Machine: Heavy Equipment – History Documentary Films (Modern Marvels)

Construction History of Disneyland

Hoover Dam Construction & History

University of Wisconsin at LaCrosse – construction of various campus buildings

Chicago Industrial Video – documents construction projects

The Newton History Project: The Construction of the Mass Pike and Route 128

Innovations in Tunnel Construction Methods – Ohio University

Selected books for young construction historians in training

Rinker, Sherri Duskey and Lichtenheld, Tom. Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2011.

Barton, Byron. Machines at Work. New York: HarperCollins, 1997

Busseo, Toni and Datz, Jim. Whose Tools? New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2015.

Mann, Elizabeth and Turco, Laura. The Great Pyramid: The Story of Farmers, The God-King and the Most Astounding Structure Ever Built. New York: Mikaya Press, 2006.