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Parsons School of Design academic programs collection

Identifier: PC-02-01-02


Parsons School of Design was established in 1896 and became affiliated with The New School as the university's art and design college in 1970. New School Archives staff assembled this collection of audiovisual materials, exhibition catalogs, posters, publications, student work, and other formats from departmental transfers and personal donations by Parsons School of Design faculty, students and administrative staff beginning in 2009.


  • 1957-2019
  • Majority of material found within 1991-2017



17.8 Cubic Feet (6 boxes, 5 oversized boxes, 3 oversized items, and 35 optical media discs.)

5 1/4 inch Audio Cassette

3 VHS Cassettes

16.6 Gigabytes (1,593 files migrated from 35 optical media discs.)

Language of Materials



Scope and Contents

New School Archives staff assembled this collection over the course of a decade, beginning in 2009, shortly after the re-opening of the Kellen Design Archives in 2008. Items in the collection were transferred to the Archives, typically in small increments, by administrative staff from the Parsons School of Design Office of the Executive Dean, from Parsons academic program offices, from Parsons faculty and students, and from The New School's office of Marketing and Communications (and its predecessor, Communications and External Affairs). Archives staff create discrete collections for larger transfers of records. This collection was used for smaller transfers and single item donations.

While many different Parsons programs are represented in the collection, not all of them are. The work of undergraduate programs predominates, with a greater amount of material from the School of Art, Media, and Technology, especially from the Communication Design and Illustration Departments, including a collection of miniature handmade books that were displayed in a retrospective exhibition of work by students in letterpress classes. There are no materials in this collection from the Parsons undergraduate Fashion Design program. There is one item representing Parsons Paris and several videos from the Samsung Art and Design Institute (SADI) in Korea.

Many of the student projects in the collection were donated by faculty members and consist of projects by students from a particular class. Other student work was donated directly by students at the request of Archives staff. Student work sometimes includes the original work itself and other times consists of documentation in the form of photographs of the work. The latter is true of all of the material that was transferred to the Archives by the office of Communications and External Affairs, which often compiled CD and DVD samplers of student work from academic programs to use in student recruitment efforts.

Material types include original artwork on paper, sketchbooks, slides, audio and video cassettes, digital moving images and photographs, posters, exhibition and event announcements, catalogs, slides, and periodicals published by academic departments. Of particular note is a comprehensive run of ParsonsPaper, a student-produced newspaper published from 1976 until 1990.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use. When files are avaliable online, a link to The New School Archives Digital Collections database is included within the collection inventory. However, most of the files migrated from optical media discs are not available online and will be emailed upon request or provided for examination upon request on site in the New School Archives reading room. Please contact for appointment.

In accordance with The New School Archives Confidentiality and Restrictions Policy (2021 revision), student work donated to The New School Archives without the student creator's knowledge or consent may only be accessed onsite in the Archives reading room by appointment. Upon receipt of request by student creator, The New School Archives staff will remove the work from the collection for return to the creator or destroy the work, and delete records of the work from published collection guides.

Conditions Governing Use

In accordance with The New School's Intellectual Property Rights Policy, copyright to student work in this collection is held by each works' respectivee author. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the user. To publish images of material from this collection, permission must be obtained in writing from the New School Archives. Please contact:

Historical note

American artist William Merritt Chase established Parsons School of Design in 1896 as the Chase School of Art. While founded as a school of fine arts instruction, it soon added courses in "applied arts," which became the primary focus under the direction of Frank Alvah Parsons. The name of the school changed several times, to the New York School of Art in 1902, then to the New York School of Fine and Applied Art in 1909. In 1940, the Board of Trustees voted to change the school's name to Parsons School of Design in recognition of Frank Alvah Parsons' leadership and to differentiate it from other, similarly named institutions.

In 1921, Parsons School of Design's European School opened with headquarters in France called the Paris Ateliers. The Ateliers closed in 1939 due to the escalation of World War II, and never reopened in its pre-war form. Summer study tours of Europe resumed in the late 1940s. When Parsons School of Design affiliated with the New School for Social Research in 1970, students could for the first time earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the New School (before the merger, students earned either a certificate for a three-year program of study at Parsons, or a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree granted by New York University, by taking courses at both schools). A more robust, year-round overseas program resumed at Parsons in the late 1970s under the leadership of Dean David C. Levy. The 1970s also saw the growth of continuing education programs at Parsons, and the introduction of an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree track. In the 1980s, Parsons developed a number of partnerships with international schools, and launched a short-lived merger between Parsons School of Design and the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles. The first Parsons graduate program was established at Parsons in 1978, in Fine Arts, with masters programs in other areas added in subsequent years, including a Master of Architecture program begun in 1989. The 2000s saw an increase in the number of graduate programs at Parsons, with new programs introduced nearly every year.


New School Archives staff organized the collection into 7 series based on individual schools within Parsons School of Design: 1. Cross-departmental, Centers and Unidentified; 2. Art and Design History and Theory; 3. Art, Media, and Technology; 4. Constructed Environments; 5. Design Strategies; 6. Pre-College, Summer Intensive, and Continuing Studies (SPACE); 7. Overseas schools and programs.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Transferred to the New School Archives from a range of departments, offices, and individuals, 2009-2019.


No further accruals will be added to this collection.

Related Materials

An earlier group of records compiled by Archives staff documenting Parsons School of Design academic departments will be found in The New School Archives: Parsons School of Design academic departments, programs and schools collection (PC.02.01.01). There are also several record groups that more fully document individual departments than the materials contained within this collection—these include the Parsons School of Design Fashion Design Department records (PC.02.02.01), Parsons School of Design Product Design Department records (PC.02.03.01), and Parsons School of Design Graphic Design Department student work (PC.02.12.01).

The Parsons School of Design course catalog collection (PC.05.01.01) provides details about courses, policies, and curricula. Posters advertising departmental events or the department itself for admissions purposes will be found in the Parsons School of Design poster collection (pre-2007) (PC.05.07.01), and catalogs for select departmental exhibitions will be found in the Exhibitions and public programs collection (NS.05.03.01). Photographs taken to illustrate departmental activities for promotional purposes will be found in the Parsons School of Design photograph collection (pre-2008 accessions) (PC.04.01.01).

Processing Information

Most of the files migrated from CDs in this collection retain their creation date.

The VHS video and the audio cassette recordings in this collection have not been digitized. Student work files stored on optical media (i.e., CD or DVD) have not been uploaded to the New School Archives digital collections. The files available on the digital collections site include promotions and documentation of exhibitions, fashion shows, and other events, and promotions for academic programs, as well as student and departmental periodicals.

Parsons School of Design academic departments, programs and schools collection
New School Archives and Special Collections Staff
March 28, 2024
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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