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Stanley Barrows papers

Identifier: KA-0002-01


Stanley Barrows (1914-1995) graduated from Parsons School of Design in 1940 and taught interior design there for over twenty years, becoming mentor to several generations of notable designers. The collection includes examples of student work compiled by Barrows, course outlines, class travel itineraries, photographs of Italian decorative styles, biographical material, and correspondence from Barrows related to his work as a designer and teacher.


  • circa 1934 - 1993



1.3 Cubic Feet (3 boxes, 3 oversize folders)

Language of Materials

Mainly in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use. Please contact for appointment.

Use Restrictions

To publish images of material from this collection, permission must be obtained in writing from the New School Archives. Please contact:

Biographical note

Interior design educator Stanley Barrows was born in Texas in 1914. He graduated with a BA from Washington and Lee University in Virginia and the New York School of Fine and Applied Art (later, Parsons The New School for Design) in 1940. Barrows was studying art history abroad when World War II began. He later reminisced that he was the last student to leave the school's Paris Ateliers in 1939 after all Parsons students and faculty were ordered to return home. Following graduation, Barrows briefly worked for designer and fellow Parsons alumnus Joseph B. Platt designing window displays (Platt would later achieve fame as a Hollywood set designer). However, his career with Platt was curtailed when Barrows was drafted into military service. He served as a photoreconnaissance officer during World War II.

Van Day Truex, President of Parsons School of Design, offered Barrows a teaching position after the war ended. His career at Parsons would span from 1946 until 1968. Barrows’ specialty was the history of interior design and decoration with an emphasis on the 17th and 18th centuries. Among his numerous students throughout the years were Tom Britt, Mario Buatta, Angelo Donghia, and Albert Hadley.

Beginning in 1952, Barrows coordinated guided tours of Europe for students, enabling them to see and sketch firsthand the rooms and furniture they had studied in the classroom. In doing so, he was continuing a Parsons tradition initiated in the 1920s by Frank Alvah Parsons and William M. Odom. Barrows was often able to secure student access to private homes and governmental offices in England, France, Germany, and Italy. In addition to his popular European tours, Barrows also led instructional visits to historic homes in the United States. “The Professor,” as he was fondly nicknamed, also educated the public on design history through interpretive articles and lectures. Barrows was often invited by the New York Times and other publications to comment on design trends and their place in the history of interior decoration.

Barrows left Parsons School of Design in 1968 to teach at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). In later interviews, Barrows expressed dissatisfaction over what he perceived to be Parsons’ rejection of traditional Beaux-Arts educational ideals. At FIT, he acted as chair of Interior Design from 1979 until his retirement in 1985. However, he never entirely severed his relationship with Parsons, and in 1993 accepted an honorary doctorate in fine arts from the school.

Barrows was a member of the American Institute of Interior Designers and the National Society of Interior Designers. In 1977, he received the Elsie de Wolfe Award from the New York Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers (A.S.I.D.) and was named an Honorary Fellow by the national organization in 1984.

Stanley Barrows died on January 31, 1995 in Naples, Florida.

Organization and arrangement

Arranged in 2 series: 1. General, 1952-1993; 2. Parsons School of Design, circa 1934-1969

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Susanna Barrows, Stanley Barrows' niece, 1997.

Related Materials

Related materials in the New School Archives include an oral history project conducted in 1994 by Martica Sawin consisting of two interviews with Stanley Barrows. The recording is part of the Parsons School of Design oral history program (PC.07.01.02).

Separated Materials

Twelve sketchbooks created by Parsons faculty member Marjorie Knight were included with the donation of the Stanley Barrows papers. These materials now form the Marjorie Knight sketchbook collection (KA.0028).

A photograph and two renderings by Bruce Buttfield were transferred to the Bruce Buttfield renderings and photographs collection (KA.0007).

A copy of Art: Its Principles and Practice as Applied to Modern Life by Frank Alvah Parsons was transferred to the Frank Alvah Parsons lectures on art and prints of period rooms collection (KA.0037).

Two volumes entitled "Italian Interiors, 16th-19th Century Measured and Drawn by Students of the New York School of Fine and Applied Art, Paris" dated 1927 and 1929 were transferred to the Parsons Institutional Collections (PIC) Academic departments, programs and schools (accessions pre-2008) record group, Parsons Paris Series.

Guide to the Stanley Barrows papers
New School Archives and Special Collections Staff
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description