Legacy: A Photographic History of Modern Housing
Catherine Bauer’s work with photography was pragmatically undoctrinaire. In 1946, she brought her camera and Kodachrome film with her on her first postwar visit to Europe. She photographed the reconstruction of London in color and set to work on an article for Survey Graphic, only to discover that the magazine required the accompanying photographs to be in black and white. Writing to the London County Council, Bauer offered to send her “excellent Kodachromes” of the Poplar area in exchange for “an overall view of an area under reconstruction [...].” An exchange of photographs, for Bauer, was an exchange of knowledge needed to house a world in the aftermath of war.
No technology was too outmoded for Bauer in this endeavor. Despite her preference for taking photographs with Kodachrome film, she continued to accompany some of her lectures with glass lantern slides. Many of these slides introduced students of housing in the United States to the newest construction abroad. In 1948, she showed a glass slide of British architect Peter Shepheard’s design for a Greater London Plan town as part of her guest lecture “Housing and Planning Abroad” delivered to Charles Abrams’s students at the New School in New York. She also likely converted one Kodachrome showing the reconstruction of Poplar into a color glass slide and, according to her notes, showed a color glass slide of prewar English housing in one of her lectures at Cornell in 1948.
In 1950, Catherine Bauer returned to Berkeley where she led courses on housing and urban planning until her sudden death in 1964 at the age of fifty-nine. Her photographs were important tools in not only her teaching and research during these years but also her tireless promotion of equitable housing policies and better design. The careful creation and circulation of photographs was an implied rather than an outright stated achievement in Bauer’s resume from 1960, but one that remains among her most enduring legacies.
Selected further reading on Catherine Bauer:
Penner, Barbara. “The (Still) Dreary Deadlock of Public Housing.” Places Journal (October 2018): https://doi.org/10.22269/181030.
Oberlander, H. Peter, and Eva Newbrun. Houser: The Life and Work of Catherine Bauer. Vancouver: UBC Press, 1999.
Radford, Gail. Modern Housing for America: Policy Struggles in the New Deal Era. Historical Studies of Urban America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.
Rikala, Taina Marjatta. “Catherine Bauer and Six Riddles of Modernism.” Journal of Architecture 7, no. 2 (2002): 191–203.
 Catherine Bauer to Arthur King, June 27, 1947, n.p. In box 2, folder “Letters Written by Catherine (Bauer) Wurster, Apr.–June, 1947,” Catherine Bauer Wurster papers, BANC MSS 74/163 c, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.
 See, for example, Catherine Bauer to “Mr. [Hans Erling] Langkilde,” January 18, 1947. In box 2, folder “Letters written by Catherine Bauer Wurster, Jan.–Mar., 1947,” Catherine Bauer Wurster papers, BANC MSS 74/163 c, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.
 Catherine Bauer to Bryn Hovde, May 11, 1948. In box 3, folder “Letters written by Catherine (Bauer) Wurster, Jan.–Mar. 1948.” In carton 15, folder 41 “Cornell University Messenger Lectureship, correspondence with Edmund Ezra Day 1947–1948,” Catherine Bauer Wurster papers, BANC MSS 74/163 c, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.
 Catherine Bauer, typescript for lecture “The Right to a Decent Home: Minimum Standards and the Public Interest,” n.d., I-c. In carton 15, folder 42, “Educator, Guest Lectures, Messenger Lectureship. Cornell University, class outlines and lectures 1948,” Catherine Bauer Wurster papers, BANC MSS 74/163 c, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.