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New School Associates records

 Record Group
Identifier: NS-03-02-01


The New School Associates was the first fundraising body associated with the New School for Social Research. Composed of faculty, former students, school administrators and supporters of the school’s aims, the Associates sponsored numerous events and an annual membership drive. These records represent the administration of the Associates from the mid-1940s through the 1970s. Art exhibition records extend into the 1980s.


  • 1943 - 1988



14.8 Cubic Feet (12 boxes, 6 folders)

Scope and Content of Collection

The New School Associates records are divided into three series. The administrative records largley consist of meeting files, which contain agendas, reports and minutes. Minutes span 1948 through 1960, with calendar years mirroring the academic calendar, with reports by the committees comprising the Associates: Activities, Art, Education, Finance, Forum, Membership and Nominating committees. Also includes bylaws, drafts of publicity and promotional materials, memoranda, planning documents and lists of potential members. Of note is an organizational memorandum authored by New School President Bryn Hovde advising staff of the reporting structure for the Office of Public Information.

The second series contains material relating to New School President Alvin S. Johnson, the bulk regarding events, such as his annual birthday celebrations, book talks and lectures. Other files in the series relate to the Fund Raising Committee and the Alvin Johnson Fund.

The third series documents individual events or event series sponsored by the Associates. Documentation includes announcements, invitations, guest lists, and organizational materials. Additional documentation may include press releases, budgets and correspondence with administrators and guests. The bulk of the first subseries are one-day events, particularly exhibition openings, but also include author receptions or “bookwarmings,” seminars and lectures, concerts, theater trips and benefits, flea markets, formal teas, and other receptions for administrators. The Associates sponsored lecture programs, or Dinner Forums, inviting a panel of speakers to discuss topics ranging from United States foreign policy to the status of Broadway theater. Dinner Forum programming differs from Luncheon lectures, with the latter comprised of a single topic featured in more than one talk over the course of the spring or fall semester. Of note is a lecture series given by Erich Fromm (1955-1957).

Much of the documentation in these records appears to have been generated by Edith Jonas Levy, the longtime executive secretary of the New School Associates, who held this position from at least 1949 to 1960. Other files appear to have been generated by Margaret C. (Mrs. Joseph) Renier, a Membership Committee chair, Mrs. Otto Sommerich, and G. De Carlo.

Language of Materials

All correspondence in English.

Access Restrictions

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

Use Note

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

Historical note

The activities of the New School Associates, an organization of faculty, alumni and supporters of the school, date back to the earliest years of the New School. In a membership appeal probably dating from the 1940s, Alvin Johnson, the New School president whose vision guided the school from 1922 through 1945, described the group in the following way:

"The New School Associates were the first organ of the New School. At the outset there was no Board, no Faculty, but an association of interested persons bent on founding an educational institution which should serve the needs of intelligent men and women like ourselves... We realized that in the original body of Associates we had the nucleus of a lay organization superior to any alumni group. The Associates could protect the institution against the prevalent academic maladies of inbreeding and dry rot, maladies rather aggravated than cured by alumni. We sought to enlist Associates from all walks of life. For as a lay organ the Associates could not, like college alumni limit themselves to negative functions but would have to play a constructive part in the development of the School... Only the New School Associates, who cared enough for the institution to become contributors to its support, ever exhibited continuity of interest and exerted influence on the development of the School... We live in trying times and must look forward to still more trying times, with powerful political forces seeking to regiment our thinking and speech and action. The protection of our American liberty to teach and write as truth commands lies first in our consciences but second in the sound public opinion of an active body of New School Associates."

The group sponsored programs and remained an active fund raising organ at least through the 1970s. Material from the late 1970s and 1980s here consists of announcements and publicity for New School exhibitions, lectures, and other events. Edith Jonas Levy (Mrs. Beryl H. Levy) was the executive secretary of the New School Associates through the 1940s and into the 1950s. Alvin Johnson was the longtime president of the Associates. The Office of the President was intertwined with the Associates, and invitations to join the Associates, as well as correspondence with speakers and guests of the Associates, were often sent out under Alvin Johnson or President Bryn Hovde's signature.

Other individuals associated with the New School Associates include:

Lova (Mrs. David) Abrahamsen (Chair, 1940s)
A. Wilfred May
Sarah (Mrs. David L.) Podell
Margaret C. (Mrs. Joseph) Renier (Membership chair)
Edith (Mrs. Otto) Sommerich (longtime member and chair, 1940s)
Ruth (Mrs. Edward L.) Stern (Chair, 1940s)
Alfred F. Thomas (Chairman of Membership Drive, 1944-1945)
Mary (Mrs. Joseph) Urban (Chair, 1940s)
Eunice Hill (Mrs. Julian) Whittlesey (Chair, 1940s)

Organization and Arrangement

Arranged in 3 series: 1. Administrative, 1943-1971, 1982-1985 2. Alvin S. Johnson, 1945-1971 3. Programs, 1945-1988

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Files were accessioned by the New School Archives in several groups from different sources. While it cannot be verified, it is probable that the files had been formerly housed together. Some of the files, primarily those in the Administrative series, were brought to the Kellen Design Archives in January 2009, and additional files were cataloged and integrated with the files already in the Archives' custody in November 2012. A large accession from the New School President's Office in 2015 included New School Associates records, as well, and they have been integrated into this collection. The location of New School Associates records documenting eras not covered in this collection guide is unknown.

Related Materials

A clippings scrapbook exclusively dedicated to documenting the activities of the New School Associates will be found in the New School publicity scrapbook collection (NS.03.01.01). Additionally, the New School Bulletins (NS.03.01.02) frequently include notices of Associates-sponsored events, as well as announcements regarding new members.

Folders documenting the New School Associates will be found in the Office of Public Information records (NS.03.04.01), in the General Administration series and Speeches series (texts of speeches given by guests of the Associates). Press releases created by the Office of Public Information for the Associates will be found in the New School press release collection (NS.03.01.07). A small number of photographs documenting Associates-sponsored events will be found in the New School photograph collection (NS.04.01.01).

Guide to the New School Associates records
New School Archives and Special Collections Staff
January 7, 2017
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • March 26, 2024: Archivist combined three boxes of index cards into a single box and adjusted extent.