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Violet Holsinger Mueller papers

 Collection
Identifier: KA-0129-01

Summary

Violet Holsinger Mueller (1907-2003) studied fashion design at the New York School of Fine and Applied Art (later, Parsons School of Design) from 1926 through 1929. She worked as an interior designer for the St. Louis-based department store, Stix, Baer & Fuller for over two decades, and also established her own design consultancy in Belleville, Illinois. Her papers include personal materials, as well as documentation created over the course of her education at Parsons and her professional career. Student work includes a number of assignments demonstrating the principles of Dynamic Symmetry in design education.

Dates

  • 1926 - 2010

Creator

Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research use. Please contact archivist@newschool.edu 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: archivist@newschool.edu.

Biographical Note

Violet Hubbard Holsinger Mueller (known as "Vi") was born March 16, 1907 in Belleville, Illinois. She attended McKendree College (University of Illinois) in Lebanon, Illinois from 1924 until 1926, and there met her future husband, Harry E. Mueller, a music teacher and graduate student. In September 1926, inspired by advertisements in Vogue magazine, she moved to New York to study fashion design at the New York School of Fine and Applied Art, which later became Parsons School of Design. She attended Parsons for two years, and was offered a scholarship to study at its Paris Ateliers for her third and final year. Her family's finances, like many others in 1929, required that she abandon her studies, and she returned home to Illinois, where she became a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse and assisted her mother with local economic relief efforts. She married Harry on August 14, 1932, and gave up her full-time teaching career.

After marrying, Mueller worked occasionally as a substitute teacher and librarian, but her design career did not take off until 1952, when she began working as an interior decorator for Stix, Baer & Fuller, a department store in St. Louis, Missouri. She remained at the store until 1977. Vi's clients were primarily in the St. Louis area, including parts of Illinois bordering on Missouri. A member of the American Society of Interior Designers, Mueller decorated over forty-five churches, as well as the Jerseyville, Illinois public library. Her interior decoration work connected with the renovation of Grace United Methodist Church in Salem, Illinois was a project of which Mueller was particularly proud.

In 1976, Mary Miller, who had first worked as a draughtswoman for Mueller in 1973, joined Vi Mueller as an associate, a position she held until Mueller's death in 2003 in Belleville, Illinois. Vi Mueller and Mary Miller were the two designers behind the firm Consultants in Color and Design.

Extent

2.3 Linear Feet (2 boxes, 1 oversize box, 1 oversize folder)

Language of Materials

English

Scope and Content of Collection

The Violet Holsinger Mueller papers are divided into three series, based on different areas of her life. Researchers should be aware that, as with many designers, personal life and professional activities often intersect.

Personal materials include biographical essays, correspondence, photographs and a photograph album, and ephemera. Mueller was proud of her family history, and engaged in genealogical research for the benefit of her nieces and nephews. Her family owned the Winkle Terra Cotta Company, and two folders in the collection document the now-closed St. Louis business.

Professional work includes clippings, correspondence, project and publicity files, and ephemera. Mueller's experience decorating churches is amply documented. She was a devout Christian, and her faith is often referenced in correspondence with clergymen and their wives. The redecoration of Grace United Methodist Church of Salem, Illinois is comprehensive, with an essay by Mueller explaining her design process. Additionally, correspondence between Mueller, her colleagues at Stix, Baer & Fuller and the department store's clients provides a sense of her professional activity and the geographic range of her travels over a period of two decades. Of potential interest to researchers investigating sustainable design are two albums documenting Consultants in Color and Design projects using recycled textiles. Mueller repurposed men's neckware to decorate the Jerseyville, Illinois public library, and, with Mary Miller, created a line of decorative wall hangings incorporating antique fabrics.

Mueller's student work includes a course catalog for the Paris Ateliers (she was awarded a scholarship to study in Paris, but was unable to go), her student notebook, and a portfolio of fashion design assignments. Timed sketches--possibly created during a Costume I course--are plentiful, as is the use of Dynamic Symmetry in the designing of fashions, textile patterns, and the drawing of animals. One set of drawings depicting flappers documents a fashion illustration assignment, while another set of drawings depicts the Dennisen Dancers performing at Carnegie Hall in 1927. Other assignments include still lifes, Native American textile research at the American Museum of Natural History, and notes from lectures by Frank Alvah Parsons.

Organization and Arrangement

Organized in 3 series: I. Personal II. Professional work III. Student work

Other Finding Aids

For selected item-level description and images from the Violet Holsinger Mueller papers, see the New School Archives Digital Collections at https://digitalarchives.library.newschool.edu/index.php/Detail/collections/KA012901.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Mary Miller, Violet Mueller's business associate, in 2013.

Related Materials

For a comparative example of student fashion design work created contemporaneously to Mueller's, researchers may consult the Margaret Susan Daniell papers (KA.0127) in the New School Archives.
Title
Guide to the Violet Holsinger Mueller papers
Status
Completed
Author
New School Archives and Special Collections Staff
Date
August 11, 2016
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin