Parsons Institutional Collections

The Parsons Institutional Collections contain records, photographs, print, audiovisual, exhibition catalogs, student work, and other materials produced within Parsons' academic and administrative departments. Constituting Parsons' institutional memory, the collections both embody and track the history of the school from its founding in 1896 through the present.

BROWSE COLLECTIONS BY TITLE AND CREATOR

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A


Academic Departments, Programs and Schools

Academic Departments, Programs and Schools: General
1917-2009 (bulk 1975-2005), 26 linear ft
Summary

Contains materials created by academic departments of Parsons The New School for Design. Includes materials originating from overseas facilities and affiliate schools, such as Otis Art Institute (California), Parsons Paris, and Altos de Chavon (Dominican Republic).

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Environmental Design Department records, class projects taught by Jean McClintock Gardner
1972-1974, 1 linear ft
Summary

Donated by Parsons faculty member Jean McClintock Gardner, consists of a grant application for a class redevelopment project in the Bronx, and materials related to class projects studying and reimagining Union Square in New York City, including a reel-to-reel audio recording, handwritten and typed reports, a press kit with photographs, community newsletters, and typed data sets.

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Fashion Design Department records (pre-2008 accessions)
1941-2008, undated
Summary | Collection Guide | Collection Guide (PDF) | Digital Materials

Contains the records of the Fashion Design Department of Parsons The New School for Design. Departmental records include course syllabi and descriptions, materials pertaining to the annual fashion show, clippings scrapbooks, and student work. A name index by which you can search for individual Parsons alumni and faculty found in the clippings scrapbooks can be accessed here:

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Illustration Department Zine Collection
1983-2011 (bulk 2000-2011), 3 linear feet: 3 boxes (144 zines)
Summary | Collection Guide | Collection Guide (PDF)

The Parsons Illustration Department Zine Collection was originally assembled and maintained within the department before being transferred to the Kellen Design Archives. These zines, comics and little magazines, numbering approximately 175 items, range in size from 2 inches x 2 inches to full-sized tabloid newspaper, but the majority are approximately 4 inches x 5.5 inches, or the size of an 8.5 inches x 11 inches piece of paper folded in half. Mostly created in the 2000s, the items have diverse visual styles, suggesting they were collected as examples for students enrolled in the Illustration program. Some appear to have been collected from the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art Festival in 2006, and others were sent directly to instructors in the department. Several are of international origin.

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Product Design Dept., records of Richard Yelle, chairman
1986-1997, 6.6 linear ft
Summary | Collection Guide | Collection Guide (PDF)

Produced during Richard Yelle's term as department chair of Product Design (as well as its predecessor names: Clay, Fiber, Metal Design; Clay, Metal, Textile Design; and Clay, Metal, Textile, and Product Design). Includes administrative records, information regarding competitions and exhibits, student work, course descriptions, evaluations, and curriculum development materials. Also includes examples of Yelle's professional work, and a poster for an exhibit by Constantin Boym.

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Administrative and Other Offices

Administrative and Other Offices
1909-2007 (bulk 1973-1999), 63 linear ft
Summary

Predominantly comprised of records produced by the Development Office, these papers document fund raising initiatives, special programs, events, and alumni reunion plans. Other offices represented in this group are Admissions, Career Services, Public Relations, and Publication Design. Also includes publications put out by the Student Council in the 1970s and 1992.

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Marketing and promotional materials
1913-2012, 3.2 linear feet: 8 boxes
Summary | Collection Guide | Collection Guide (PDF)

Printed publicity materials including but not limited to circulars, mailers, promotional booklets and pamphlets, and postcards generally advertising Parsons The New School for Design, or a particular course or program of study not connected to a specific department.

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Alumni Association

Alumni Association Files
1920-1970, 16 linear ft., 10 scrapbooks
Summary | Collection Guide | Collection Guide (PDF) | Digital Materials

Contains correspondence, financial records, minutes, photographic materials, printed materials, clippings scrapbooks, and subject files documenting the organization from its founding in 1952 until 1970, when Parsons School of Design became affiliated with the New School for Social Research. The records also include documents generated by earlier alumni associations that the Alumni Association incorporated into its working files.

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Audio and moving images

Oral History Projects (audio recordings)
1994, 2010-2011, 30 interviews
Summary

Consists of oral histories conducted with Parsons faculty members, staff, and alumni. Transcripts and digital audio files are available on site at the Kellen.

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D


Deans, Presidents, and Executive Offices

Records of Vice Dean Lesley Cadman
circa 1982-1991, 3 linear ft
Summary

Consists of records created and received by Lesley Cadman, vice dean of Parsons School of Design, 1981-2007. Contains subject files on committees, departments and programs, policies, events, individuals, and general administrative issues. Certain records here pre-date Cadman's arrival at Parsons. This may be because they were transmitted to Cadman as historical reference materials, or the files were transferred from her predecessor's offices and incorporated into her working files.

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Records of President Sterling A. Callisen
1955-1963, .8 linear ft. : 2 boxes
Summary | Collection Guide | Collection Guide (PDF)

Consists of records created and received by Sterling A. Callisen, President of Parsons School of Design from 1959 until 1963. Previously, Callisen served on the Parsons School of Design Board of Trustees. Contains correspondence, minutes, reports, proposals, and financial records on administrative matters.

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Records of Dean David C. Levy
1952-1989 (bulk 1970-1988), 7 linear ft: 8 boxes
Summary

Consists of records created and received by David C. Levy, dean of Parsons School of Design, 1970-1989. Prior to becoming dean, Levy had served as assistant director (1961-1962) and then director (1963-1968) of Admissions. In 1968 he was appointed vice president of Parsons and, in 1970, after successfully brokering the affiliation of Parsons and the New School for Social Research, Levy became dean of Parsons. His papers contain correspondence, reports, proposals, and subject files on issues including accreditation, affiliate schools, academic departments, and general administrative issues.

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Records of Dean Charles S. Olton
circa 1989-1997, 6.4 linear ft
Summary

Consists of records created and received by Charles S. Olton, Dean of Parsons School of Design from 1989 until 1997. Contains subject files on committees, departments and programs, events, individuals, international projects, and general administrative issues.

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Records of Oversight
1912-2003, 1 linear ft: 2 boxes
Summary

Includes records of Parsons' Board of Overseers, Board of Trustees, and reports and self-studies prepared for state and national educational review organizations.

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Records of President Francis A. Ruzicka
1953-1970, 1.2 linear ft. : 3 boxes
Summary | Collection Guide | Collection Guide (PDF)

Consists of records created and received by Francis A. Ruzicka, President of Parsons School of Design from 1963 until his resignation in 1969. Contains correspondence, financial records, handwritten notes, minutes, and reports, primarily circulated between President Ruzicka and the Parsons School of Design Board of Trustees.

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E


Events, lectures and programs

Events and programs
1926-2007 (bulk 1950-2007), 2.1 linear ft
Summary | Collection Guide | Collection Guide (PDF)

Contains ephemera documenting events sponsored by Parsons administrative offices and academic departments, such as commencement ceremonies, dedications, exhibitions, lectures and symposia, open houses, and receptions. Examples of materials include announcements, fliers, invitations, and programs.

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Events and lectures (audio recordings)
1963-2003
Summary

Audio recordings of public programs and lectures presented at or in connection with Parsons. Speakers include practicing photographers, fashion designers, stylists, graphic designers, and interior designers, among others. Some of the events documented include: the Mary Largent Brandt Memorial Lecture featuring textile designer Dorothy Liebes (1963 or 1964); a press conference announcing Parsons' merger with The New School, 1970; the New York Times Photographic Workshop (1983); the Focus Photography Lecture Series (1982-1985), and the Henry Wolf Lecture Series (1998), featuring talks by Ivan Chermayeff, Milton Glaser, and Henry Wolf. Also includes recordings of Parsons' Fashion Design Department critic sessions featuring talks by a host of well-known fashion designers (1994 and 1995).

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Exhibitions
1964-2006 (bulk 1980-2006), 3.1 linear ft
Summary | Collection Guide | Collection Guide (PDF)

Contains printed materials related to exhibitions held at, sponsored by, or produced in cooperation with Parsons The New School for Design. Materials include catalogs, invitations, and announcements. Although the series contains documentation on exhibitions held in the 1960s and 1970s, the bulk of materials relates to events from the 1980s onwards. For student and faculty exhibitions sponsored by specific academic departments, see Academic Departments, Programs and Schools files.

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M


Museum Extension Project of Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Museum Extension Project costume plates
1935-1943, 5 folders
Summary

A collection of plates intended to illustrate the development of dress from its earliest origins to the beginning of the 20th century and plates, useful for classes engaged in staging plays, that illustrate the types of clothing well-known literary characters might have worn.

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P


Photographs and Slides

Parsons photographs
1926-2003, 3.2 linear ft
Summary | Collection Guide | Collection Guide (PDF)

Includes 1,425 photographs documenting Parsons student and campus life, including exhibitions, award and fashion shows, guest lectures, field trips, and campus construction projects. (Inventory available -- contact the Kellen Archives.)

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Printed material

Course descriptions
1984-2006, 1.7 linear ft
Summary | Collection Guide | Collection Guide (PDF)

Consists of photocopied course description packets produced by the Registrar's Office for classes offered at Parsons The New School for Design. Packets contain information regarding class schedules, instructors, credit hours, degree requirements, and curriculum.

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Handbooks and orientation materials
1968-2007, 4.2 linear ft
Summary | Collection Guide | Collection Guide (PDF)

Contains handbooks and guides issued by the administration of Parsons The New School for Design to familiarize faculty, students, and students' families with school regulations, policies, and procedures. Also includes materials designed to acquaint students with aspects of living and studying in New York City.

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Parsons course catalogs
1912-2012, 9 boxes
Summary | Collection Guide | Collection Guide (PDF)

Parsons course catalogs consists of publications from the Parsons School of Design and affiliate programs containing information regarding pedagogy objectives, school policies and admissions requirements, departmental and course descriptions, faculty and administration rosters, facilities, fees, and examples of student work.

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Periodicals
1940-2008, 3.8 linear ft
Summary | Collection Guide | Collection Guide (PDF)

Contains periodicals and serial publications produced by administrative offices and academic departments of Parsons The New School for Design, and The New School of which Parsons has been an affiliate since 1970. Periodicals here were primarily produced from the 1970s through 2008, the majority of titles representing short run and one-off publications.

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Posters
1927-2006 (bulk 1956-2006), 22 linear ft [236 posters]
Summary | Collection Guide | Collection Guide (PDF)

Contains posters created for academic departments and administrative offices of Parsons The New School for Design, including promotional posters for summer sessions and study abroad programs, recruiting by specific departments, and publicity for exhibitions, public programs, and internship fairs. With the exception of a 1927 poster advertising a dance, the series does not contain any material created prior to 1956.

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R


Reference collections

Designer Files
circa 1994-2008, 2.2 linear ft.
Summary | Collection Guide | Collection Guide (PDF)

The Designer Files were assembled by Archives staff between approximately 1994 and 2008 from a variety of sources (on occasion new files continue to be added). Subjects are typically Parsons graduates, visiting critics, lecturers, or faculty. Folder contents may include clippings, ephemera, slides, and such printed materials as business cards, postcards and pamphlets.

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New York School of Art Reference Index (1896-1912)
compiled 1996-2006, 1.1 linear ft
Summary | Collection Guide | Collection Guide (PDF)

Compiled by Kellen Design Archives staff, this index lists publications that discuss the New York School of Art and artists associated with the school either as students or instructors between the time of its founding in 1896 until 1912. Photocopies of the relevant pages from the indexed publications are available upon request.

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Parsons Table research files
1923-2006, 0.4 linear ft
Summary | Collection Guide | Collection Guide (PDF)

The Parsons Table research files consist primarily of work conducted and assembled by the director and staff of the Kellen Design Archives in 2002 to support a Parsons' Design and Management Department project in which students would construct and market a version of the Parsons Table. Archives staff prepared a questionnaire for alumni to gather information about the origins of the table and its design. Several responses include sketches of the table. While furnishing no conclusive evidence, these files will be useful to researchers investigating the history of the table, its relationship to the school, and the stories that have been told about it. The Parsons Table was reportedly designed at the Paris Ateliers, the precursor to Parsons Paris, sometime in the 1920s or 1930s. A modernist design, the chair is characterized by its straight, clean lines and square legs, in which the legs are the same width as the tabletop. French designer Jean-Michel Frank (1895–1941) is often identified as the creator of the table. Frank served as a critic in the Paris Ateliers, and one hypothesis suggests that he had students follow the simple table design as part of a classroom project in furniture construction.

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