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George Barnett Johnston

American indexed catalog of building components and manufacturers published annually since 1906. This multi-volume series, which organizes building product information, details, and specifications, is a standard reference for architecture, engineering, and construction industry professionals. It was launched as “Sweet’s” Indexed Catalogue of Building Construction in 1906 by Clinton W. Sweet, founder and editor of the journal Architectural Record, in response to an industry need for a more systematic and scientific approach to the organization of building product data.

During the 19th century local and craft-based building traditions in the United States were gradually displaced by the rise of industrial production and the establishment of integrated transportation and distribution networks. The concomitant formation of a national market in building products, combined with new printing and marketing techniques, yielded an onslaught of manufacturers’ advertising brochures and catalogs inundating architects’ offices. By the early 20th century, this widely recognized “catalog problem” overwhelmed architects’ libraries and stymied the increasingly complex task of selecting and specifying building products. ...