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New School Publicity Office records

 Record Group
Identifier: NS-03-01-05


This collection largely documents the activities of the New School Publicity Office during the 1940s and 1950s, and reflects the range of activities of the department under the leadership of Agnes De Lima, who directed the department for two decades. The collection includes notes and draft materials for the production of press releases, articles in the weekly New School Bulletin, advertisements and course promotion, and administrative materials.

Also includes materials related to the organization of art exhibitions and special events, and transcripts of radio announcements and speeches. The Dramatic Workshop, École Libre des Hautes Études and Graduate Faculty series in this collection are especially rich in describing the work of these important New School programs.


  • 1918 - 1993
  • Majority of material found within 1945 - 1965



17.1 Cubic Feet (42 boxes)

Scope and Content of Collection

Many of the records in this collection were created and compiled in the 1940s and 1950s when the New School's Publicity Office was under the direction of Agnes De Lima, and reflect the range of functions and activities of the department during De Lima's two decades of leadership. De Lima's publicity reports (box 28, folder 10) offer a broad overview of a decade of departmental activities, and shed light, as well, on publicity and public relations practices of the period. Other materials in the collection represent the output of the Information Office (also known as the Office of Public Information), which supplanted Publicity in 1959, not long before De Lima retired. In abundance throughout the collection are notes and draft materials for the production of press releases, articles in the weekly New School Bulletin, advertisements and other promotions. Records include internal and external correspondence; meeting minutes and reports; drafts and finished printed materials promoting courses, art exhibitions and special events; and transcripts of radio announcements and speeches. Other documents find De Lima sparking and contributing ideas for symposia and lecture series, as well as conducting outreach to donors.

The Art exhibitions and Special events series detail De Lima's involvement in arranging and producing publicity for these activities, as well as documenting the events themselves. The Dramatic Workshop, École Libre des Hautes Études and Graduate Faculty series are especially rich in describing the work of those important New School programs. The Speeches series contains whole and partial transcripts of speeches by eminent guest lecturers and New School faculty at lecture series, annual symposia, convocations and commencements. The transcripts, often released to the press prior to an event, were sometimes published into symposia proceedings after the fact.

Language of Materials

Primarily in English, with a small amount of material in French and German.

Access Restrictions

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 and Special Collections. Please contact:

Biographical Note

Before her two-decade tenure as director of the New School Publicity Office, Agnes De Lima (1887-1974) was a successful author, journalist, teacher and activist in the field of progressive education. Born in New Jersey to a conservative banking family that had emigrated from Curaçao, De Lima grew up in Larchmont, New York and New York City. She graduated from Vassar College in 1908, majoring in English, and committed herself to activism in socialist, feminist, labor, education, and other reform movements.

After Vassar, De Lima moved to New York City and worked as a writer for the Russell Sage Foundation and the Bureau of Municipal Research. She earned a master's degree from the New York School of Social Work in 1912, and in 1917 became deeply involved in Randolph Bourne's movement for education reform. After Bourne died in 1918, De Lima took up his post as leading writer on education at the journal, The New Republic. De Lima also contributed to The Nation, among other publications. Her articles were collected into a 1924 book, Our Enemy the Child. Hailed by many as a pioneering work on progressive education, the book promoted child-centered learning and education as a means to reform society. De Lima continued writing on education for national journals and newspapers in the 1930s, while also collaborating on projects for progressive schools, including the Lincoln School and the Bank Street School. John Dewey, a leading figure in the field of progressive education and one of the founders of the New School for Social Research, wrote an enthusiastic introduction to De Lima's book, The Little Red School House, published in 1942.

Around the time she was at The New Republic, De Lima entered into a romantic relationship with Alvin Johnson, who would go on to become the first president of the the New School for Social Research. While Johnson remained married to his wife, Edith, in the early 1920s he and De Lima conceived a daughter, Sigrid. Although his paternity was kept quiet, Johnson supported Sigrid and she remained close to the Johnson family. After earning an M.S. in Journalism at Columbia University, Sigrid joined a creative writing workshop at the New School, and went on to publish several novels.

Married briefly in the 1920s, Agnes De Lima lived in Mexico in 1928 and Palo Alto, California in the 1930s. By the time she arrived at the New School in 1940 to lead the Publicity Office, De Lima's affair with Johnson was probably long since past. She devoted her expertise as writer and educator toward promoting the New School, particularly committed to broadcasting the institution's mission to educate adults and non-traditional students.

De Lima retired from the New School in 1960. She continued to live in Greenwich Village until her death in 1974.

Historical Note

In her 1945 annual report on the activities of the New School's Publicity Office, director Agnes De Lima outlined the functions of the department as 1. Press publicity; 2. Production of the weekly New School Bulletin; and 3. Course promotion through letters and folders. By 1946, she had added the arrangement and promotion of art exhibitions and concerts to the list. Over the years of her leadership, the department also played an important role in public relations, fund raising, special events planning, and myriad other activities.

While the Publicity Office attempted to introduce standards and policies and to establish consistency across the institution, for years course and program promotion was often simultaneously carried out by instructors, whose livelihoods were directly dependent upon enrollment. The school also sometimes employed publicity firms, such as Fizdale, Inc., to write and place features related to the New School in targeted publications.

In her 1951-1952 report, De Lima indicates that, in addition to her regular duties, that year she "took over from Mrs. [Mary] Urban the balance of the newspaper and radio advertising." Urban, the widow of the architect Joseph Urban, who designed the New School's flagship building, had been a fund raising officer for the school, and De Lima describes taking on tasks that included "prepartion of special reports and statements in answer to many requests for information about the New School by writers, special groups and organizations . . . and also this year the rather extensive draft for the fund raising pamphlet."

The Publicity Office under De Lima became a repository for documenting New School history, and De Lima grew into the role of de facto New School historian. She continually advocated for an expanded staff so that she could write feature articles and "advance the book about the School, material for which is too slowly accumulating" (1947). Files in these records reflect this ongoing accumulation, with lists of students, faculty and departmental accomplishments, biographies of prominent New School figures, and accounts of programs and institutes, as well as general essays on the school's founding and evolution.

De Lima's annual reports often quote statistics about the department's scrapbooks of press clippings. "The New School is oftener in the paper with its course announcements than any other educational institution in the city," she writes. These scrapbooks, found in the New School publicity scrapbook collection (NS.03.01.01), as well as the Dramatic Workshop scrapbooks in the present collection, track the dissemination of publicity produced by the department and monitor the school's reputation and public face. Indeed, press on the New School was not uniformly positive. De Lima's "Red Scare" files document the New School as it came under suspicion after World War II when a virulent strain of anti-Communism re-emerged in the United States. The files trace attacks on free speech in schools, generally, and report on accusations against the New School as a Communist-front organization, guilty of harboring politically-suspect foreign scholars. Documents also show some of the ways in which the New School fashioned responses to those attacks.

The New School Associates, the President's Office, and the Public Relations Office in part performed functions that overlapped with those of the Publicity Office. Each of these departments, for example, at various times were responsible for organizing and managing special events, producing promotional and fund raising materials, handling press relations, writing press releases and articles, placing advertisements and tracking publicity, sponsoring and promoting lecture series and courses, and conducting donor outreach. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, leading up to and just after De Lima's resignation, during a time of general administrative upheaval and self-analysis across the New School, attempts were made to clarify and professionalize these overlapping activities. New personnel were hired, certain responsibilites were combined into a single office, others separated out. For a time the names of offices and division of responsibilities shifted monthly. The chronology below marks some of the significant shifts.


Agnes De Lima is hired and put in charge of Publicity; she is responsible for issuing press releases and handling press requests.
While De Lima remains head of Publicity, correspondence refers to her colleague, Mary Urban, as director of Promotion (1942) and Director of Public Relations (1943).
Correspondence refers to Agnes De Lima as Director of Publicity.
Fred Myers is appointed Development Officer.
circa 1953
Mary Urban leaves. Her responsibilities transfer to De Lima.
The Publicity Office is renamed the Information Office.
Agnes De Lima continues as editor of the New School Bulletin.
Margarete Westmann is appointed Development Officer.
Robert Friedberg becomes Director of Information; his office is responsible for issuing press releases.
Roma Lipsky becomes Director of Information.
Curtis Roosevelt, as Vice-President for Public Affairs, oversees course promotion, newspaper advertisements, radio spots and special events.
Agnes De Lima retires. Editing of the Weekly Bulletin is transferred to the Special Events Office, led by Sara K. Fox.
James E. Truex becomes Acting Director of Information.
Agnes De Lima returns as Acting Director of Publicity and Special Events, "until the new president should be appointed and necessary re-organization brought about."
Roosevelt expresses the desire for more coordination between course promotion (Sarah Fox) and the Development Office (Marguerite Westmann).
Sarah K. Fox becomes Director of Specal Events, retaining responsibility for course promotion.
Albert Landa is appointed Director of Information.
Martin E. Gormley, Jr, is appointed Director of Information.
Albert Landa is appointed Director of Public Information and Development.
Anne Brewer is appointed Director of Public Information.
Albert Landa is appointed Assistant to the President and Director of Public Information.
Richard M. Klein is appointed Director of Development.
Albert Landa is appointed Vice President for Development and Public Relations.
Howard Klein is appointed Director of Public Information.
Jane J. Buchenholz is appointed Director of Development.
Edwin Cohen is appointed Director of Development.
Howard Levine is appointed Director of Public Relations.
Marvin Rich is appointed Director of Development.
Albert Landa is appointed Vice President.

Organization and Arrangement

Arranged alphabetically in 15 series: 1. General subjects and administrative records; 2. Advertising; 3. Art Exhibits; 4. Centers, institutes and schools; 5. Commencement; 6. Course and conference promotion; 7. Dramatic Workshop and Studio Theatre; 8. École Libre des Hautes Études; 9. Graduate Faculty; 10. Performances and scrennings; 11. Press clippings and offprints; 12. Promotional publications, writings and fund raising materials; 13. Reports; 14. Special events; 15. Speeches.

Custodial History

Many of the records in this collection were produced and compiled by Agnes De Lima in her capacity as director of the Publicity Office, and may have been combined with the files of her successors after her departure.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Transferred from the Raymond Fogelman Social Sciences and Humanities Library to the New School Archives and Special Collections in 2012 and 2013.

Related Materials

The New School press release collection (NS.03.01.07) and the New School publicity scrapbook collection (NS.03.01.01) each were produced and compiled by the Publicity Office and its successor Office of Public Information. Many other groups of records in the New School Archives overlap with and relate to the offices, events, people, and subjects represented in the Publicity Office records. These include the New School course catalog collection (NS.05.01.01), the New School Bulletin collection (NS.03.01.02), the New School Photograph collection (NS.04.01.01), the Graduate Faculty of the New School for Social Research collection (NS.02.02.01), the Alvin S. Johnson collection (NS.01.01.01). Other related collections include the records the New School Associates (NS.03.02.01), the New School Development and Public Relations Offices (NS.03.02.02), the New School Art Center (NS.03.05.02), and the Human Relations Center records (NS.02.03.01). Commencement programs will be found in the Commencement, Convocations and Inauguration print material collection (NS.05.05.01). The Architectural plans and drawings for the New School at 66 West Twelfth Street (NS.09.01.01) include plans for the original building as well as for the two major additions made in the 1950s.

A photograph of Agnes De Lima from the 1930s will be found in the Peninsula School Archives Centre.

Guide to the New School Publicity Office records
New School Archives and Special Collections Staff
January 10, 2017
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • April 11, 2018: New School Archives staff integrated new file-level components into collection inventory.