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Parsons School of Design academic departments, programs and schools collection

Identifier: PC-02-01-01


Collection contains materials created by academic departments of Parsons School of Design. In addition to documentation of Parsons' main campus in New York City, includes materials originating from overseas facilities and affiliate schools, such as Otis Art Institute (California), Paris Ateliers/Parsons Paris, and Altos de Chavon (Dominican Republic).


  • 1914 - 2010
  • Majority of material found within 1975 - 2005



15.5 Cubic Feet (9 boxes, 5 oversize boxes, 6 oversize folders)

Language of Materials


Scope and Content of Collection

Records consist of materials documenting the activities of various departments, programs, and affiliated schools historically associated with Parsons School of Design. Documents include postcards advertising student and faculty exhibitions; printed programs for exhibitions, lecture series, and other events sponsored by departments; samples of student work, including publications and videos created by students and their instructors; and catalogs or other promotional materials created to advertise a specific unit. The collection is not comprehensive and consists predominantly of printed materials.

This collection was closed to further additions in 2009. Any newly acquired materials, even those created in the years covered by this collection, will be found in a successor collection, Parsons School of Design academic departments, programs and schools (ongoing) (PC.02.01.02).

The records are arranged alphabetically by department, program or school name. Individual programs or departments are associated with the school they were a part of during the period that the materials were created, which may or may not reflect the organization of departments at Parsons School of Design as of 2016.

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. 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.

Organization and Arrangement

Organized alphabetically by department or program name.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Collection compiled by the staff of the New School Archives from multiple accessions, including some materials received by the archives with unclear provenance.

Related Materials

Several record groups more fully document individual departments than the materials contained within this collection: the Parsons School of Design Fashion Design Department records (pre-2008 accessions) (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). Additionally, more recent accessions will be found in the continuation of this collection, PC.02.01.02.

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).

The Parsons School of Design Centenary oral history project (PC.07.01.01), conducted in 1994 by art historian Martica Sawin, includes interviews with various faculty members who taught at Parsons School of Design during the years covered by this collection.

Processing Information

Electronic files have not yet been processed. Please contact for further details.

Processing Information

This collection was created prior to the re-establishment of the Kellen Design Archives in 2008. Archives staff closed this collection to further additions at that time.

Guide to the Parsons School of Design academic departments, programs and schools collection
New School Archives and Special Collections Staff
August 8, 2016
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • March 28, 2024: Added issues 4 and 8 of Scapes and adjusted dates.