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Parsons School of Design Adam and Sophie Gimbel Art and Design Library records

Identifier: PC-08-01-01


The records of the Adam and Sophie Gimbel Art and Design Library of Parsons School for Design consist of administrative files generated by library administrators and school executives. Topics include library collections, facilities, fundraising, statistical record-keeping, and the library's role in school accreditation. The bulk of the records dates from the period after Parsons School of Design's library relocated in 1972.


  • 1944-2014
  • Majority of material found within 1977-2009



10.6 Cubic Feet (8 boxes, 2 tubes, 2 oversized folders )

0.031 Gigabytes (172 files)

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents of Collection

The collection contains records of Parsons School of Design's Adam and Sophie Gimbel Art and Design Library generated, received, or collected by library administrators. Materials include administrative files, annual reports, architectural plans, correspondence, financial records, grant proposals, employee manuals, committee and taskforce minutes, policy statements and guidelines, publicity materials, and reports for internal and external audiences. Topics covered include library collections, computing, library consortium membership, exhibitions, facilities, fundraising, library instruction, policies and procedures, and staffing, as well as the library's role in college and university acceditation.

In addition to the records of the Adam and Sophie Gimbel Art and Design Library, some files, particularly those including annual reports, contain documentation generated by the administration of the Raymond Fogelman Social Sciences and Humanities Library, the Harry Scherman Music Library of Mannes School of Music and the Kellen Design Archives, as well as other defunct administrative units formerly under the jurisdiction of the New School University Libraries.

The record group also includes three records cartons of materials transferred from a deaccessioned picture collection comprised of plates collected and indexed by library staff. The Picture Collection files are a small sample obtained by Kellen Design Archives staff in 2011 to preserve a record of the practice and experience of image research in the pre-digital era.

While the earliest records date from the late 1950s prior to Parsons's 1970 merger with the New School for Social Research, the majority of the records were created following Parsons School of Design's move to The New School's Greenwich Village campus in the early 1970s.

The record group includes two folders of black and white photographs dating from the 1970s and 1980s. Earlier photographic documentation of the library in its East 54th Street location will be found in the Parsons School of Design Alumni Association records (PC.03.02.01).

Most of the first series represents a large transfer of office records coordinated by incoming library director Kira Appel in 2010, including many records accumulated by previous directors over the past fifty years. The picture collection sample is also included in this series. The second series is comprised of more recent records transferred by Appel in 2014 as she prepared to move administrative offices. The bulk of this series consists of records documenting the late 1990s and 2000s, immediately prior to Appel's hiring.

Included in the first series, multiple rolls of architectural plans document the initial design of the library when it moved from East 54th Street to the recently acquired university building at 70 Fifth Avenue/2 West 13th Street in the early 1970s. The plans also document a library renovation in 1984. The library space no longer exists following a large-scale renovation of the floor formerly occupied by Gimbel Library into a "making center," rendering the floor plans and elevations in this collection obsolete. Seventy Fifth Avenue received New York City Landmark status in 2021.

Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research use. Some files are restricted for a period of time in accordance with The New School Archives’ confidentiality policy, including student records, files with faculty and personnel information, and other sensitive university records. Please contact for more information.

Use Restrictions

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

Historical note

The Adam and Sophie Gimbel Art and Design Library at Parsons School of Design (hereafter, "Gimbel Library") existed from 1972 to 2014, under varying names. In 2014, the physical library space on the second floor of 2 West 13th Street that had housed the collections and administrative offices since the 1970s closed as a result of building renovation and a reorganization of campus facilities, and the collections and some administrative offices of Gimbel Library were relocated to the newly constructed New School University Center across the street at 63 Fifth Avenue. At the same time, the New School Libraries were realigned into a single, university-wide collection, and the Gimbel name ceased to be associated with the physical library space or Parsons-specific collections. While library leadership remained unchanged, the new library space in the University Center was named the Arnhold Forum Library.

The earliest mention of a Parsons School of Design library appears in the 1922-1923 New York School of Fine and Applied Art (NYSFAA) course catalog (this was the design school's predecessor name, formally renamed Parsons School of Design in 1941). In addition to reference books in English and in French, the library made its collection of photographic plates and lantern slides available for the study of costume and interior design, and included a materials library. Mary E. Herrick, a "trained librarian," appears on the NYSFAA catalog's faculty page as "Librarian and Museum Director." In successive decades, the school promoted the library's growing collections of periodicals, rare books, visual materials, and archival collections in course catalogs and continued to list library administrators in the rank of school faculty.

In 1970, Parsons School of Design became affiliated with the New School for Social Research and in the following years transferred its operations from its East 54th Street location to 66 Fifth Avenue-2 West 13th Street in Greenwich Village. In 1974, the library moved to the second floor of 2 West 13th Street, and the previously unnamed library was dedicated as the Adam L. Gimbel Design Library in honor of a gift from the family of the Saks Fifth Avenue executive. In 1982, following the death of Adam Gimbel's wife Sophie the previous year, the library was rededicated as the Adam and Sophie Gimbel Design Library as the culmination of a fundraising initiative headed by Sophie Gimbel's son and Saks Fifth Avenue executive Jay Rossbach and fellow Saks executive Helen O'Hagan. Sophie Gimbel was a fashion designer, whose Salon Moderne was long a feature of the Saks Fifth Avenue flagship store. Two portraits of Sophie Gimbel hung in Gimbel Library, one a formal portrait in oil and the other a reproduction of a Rene Bouché fashion illustration featuring Sophie Gimbel as a model.

As of 2021, the oil portrait of Sophie Gimbel hangs in the Arnhold Forum Library, accompanied by a plaque explaining the association between Parsons School of Design and the Gimbel family. The Bouché portrait will be found in the Kellen Design Archives collections.

Leadership of Gimbel Library:

1958-1972 Jadwiga Pulaska, Librarian

1972-1975 not listed

1975-1983 Christiane Collins, Head Librarian (1975-1981) and Senior Librarian, (1981-1983)

1983-1989 Sharon Chickanzeff, Director od Adam and Sophie Gimbel Library and Associate University Librarian

1989-1991 Janice Woo, Director of Adam and Sophie Gimbel Library and Associate University Librarian 1991-1992 not listed

1992-1995 Hikmet Dogu, Director of Adam and Sophie Gimbel Library and Associate University Librarian

1995-2000 Clayton Kirking, Director of Adam and Sophie Gimbel Library and Associate University Librarian

2001-2003 [According to a document found in Series II in the administrative files of Andrew Gessner, the library director position may have been unfilled during this period]

circa 2003-2005 Andrew Gessner

circa 2008-2010 Joy Kestenbaum

2010-present (2021) Kira Appel, Director, Research and Instructional Services

Organization and Arrangement

Arranged alphabetically by folder title in 2 series based on archival transfer dates: 1. Early accessions; 2. 2014 accession.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Most of the records in the first series were transferred from the Gimbel Library Director's Office in 2010, with the arrival of a new library director, Kira Appel. Appel transferred the second series in 2014, immediately prior to library offices moving from 2 West 13th Street to 63 Fifth Avenue. Archivist Wendy Scheir found a set of architectural plans on the shelves of the archives office in 2008 and, due to the absence of an accession record, it is unknown when the plans were transferred to archival custody or by whom. Finally, Kellen Design Archives staff added three records cartons representing a sampling of the Picture Library in 2011, as that collection was retired and its contents dispersed.

Related Materials

Files related to the activities and functions of the Adam and Sophie Gimbel Art and Design Library will also be found in the New School Office of the University Librarian records (NS.08.01.02), the Charles S. Olton records (PC.01.07.01), the Lesley Cadman records (PC.01.06.01), Parsons School of Design administrative and other offices collection (PC.03.01.01), and the Parsons School of Design Alumni Association records (PC.03.02.01).

Posters promoting exhibitions held in Gimbel Library will be found in the Parsons School of Design poster collection (PC.05.07.01).

A number of collections now in the custody of the New School Archives were originally part of the Gimbel Library collections. These include the Fashion print scrapbook collection (KA.0091.01) consisting of fashion plates and advertisements collected by library staff for student use. Library provenance is indicated in all collections transferred from the library to the New School Archives and Special Collections and its predecessor, the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Design Archives.

Processing Information

The majority of folder titles were created by the originating office. Student employee Jack Wells processed this record group.

Guide to the Parsons School of Design Adam and Sophie Gimbel Art and Design Library records
Jenny Swadosh
August 23, 2021
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