Of course, an implicit contemporary question would be to ask about the significance of such scholarly findings today, a possible discussion point when Dr. Zaitzevsky, author of the handsome, oversize and generously illustrated Long Island Landscapes And The Women Who Designed Them," addresses The Meadow Club in Southampton on May 20.
In the book's preface, and in interview, Dr. Zaitzevsky
was challenged trying to locate materials on some of the women where there were no extant archives, and surprised by some findings.
had expected to find commonalities - "no shrinking violets" among the 18 women featured in the book - six first-generation pioneers, 12 second-generation professionals - but she
also discovered they were not as a group necessarily wealthy.
also wanted to make sure readers would see the women as women, "see their faces, hear their voices," and so she
included portraits of them and relevant quotations from their writings and interviews.
As part of her
historian's perspective, which took her
well beyond questions of personality and gender, she
also spent time looking at where they studied and compared curricula (the program at MIT
differed dramatically from course work at University of Illinois at Urbana
, for example).
came away from her
research convinced, as was Dr. Mackay, that the "almost meteor-like entrance of women into a new profession" and the expanded opportunities to design estates on Long Island, signaled that in the development of landscape architecture, Long Island would become, as indeed it did, "a microcosm of activity for the country."
Dr. Zaitzevsky teaches at Harvard's Landscape Institute and continues to explore a favorite subject, American parks, with a special interest in New York State which boasts strong advocacy groups and a healthy infusion of private funding.
Not incidentally, it should be noted that the Long Island planting-plan drawings augmenting the gorgeous photos in the book are themselves works of art, part of an 18th and 19th century tradition of ink, pastel and gouache works on paper that illustrate formal garden designs, decorative arts and engineering commissions of the past.
lecture, "Long island Landscapes And The Women Who Designed Them," takes place Friday, May 20; 11:30 a.m., lunch 12:30 p.m., The Meadow Club
is at 555 First Neck Lane, Southampton All proceeds will benefit the Halsey House herb garden.
Lecture $35, Lecture and Lunch $75.
The event is being hosted by The Southampton Historical Museum
Call 283-2494 for further information.