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Independent study oral history project on New School history

Identifier: NS-07-01-02


This oral history project consists of six audio interviews conducted by New School for Public Engagement student Gerard O. Hemmerle as an independent study under the supervision of Professor Julia L. Foulkes during the Spring 2013 semester. Interviewees consist of long-serving university faculty and staff, primarily associated with what was known as the New School for Public Engagement. Recordings are all in English.


  • 2013



4.34 Gigabytes (26 Wave files; 06:45:50 duration; 6 PDF transcripts)

Language of Materials


Scope and Content of Collection

In 2012, New School faculty members Julia L. Foulkes (Associate Professor of History, School for Undergraduate Studies) and Mark Larrimore (Associate Professor of Religion, Eugene Lang College) co-taught an undergraduate course on the history of The New School titled, "The New School Century." Gerard O. Hemmerle, a student enrolled in the class, grew interested in conducting a series of oral histories to document the experiences of individuals connected with the school throughout its history. The following semester, he carried out an independent study under the supervision of Professor Foulkes, identifying and approaching interview participants in cooperation with librarian Carmen Hendershott, whom he also interviewed.

Hemmerle wrote the following Statement of Aim for the project:

The New School Oral History Interview Project [sic], undertaken by New School librarian Carmen Hendershott and NSPE undergraduate, Gerard O. Hemmerle, for the New School Archives, aims to supplement the often-incomplete written institutional records of the New School by recording the oral reminiscences of members of the New School community, especially longtime faculty, staff, and administrators. In this way, accounts of histories of positions, departments, divisions, institutes and centers, and memorable persons of the New School will be documented, preserved and made available to the public.

Hemmerle primarily conducted the sound interviews in participants' offices on The New School's New York City campus. With the exception of Sondra Farganis, all interviewees were employed by the university at the time of the recording. The interviews were originally recorded as digital audio files (Broadcast Wave) and transferred to MP3 files for access purposes. The original Broadcast Wave files are maintained by the New School Archives and Special Collections as preservation files.

Additionally, the New School Archives and Special Collections funded the professional transcription of all interviews. Archives staff members then reviewed the transcripts for accuracy and to identify personal names and organizations that the transcriber could not identify. Neither recordings nor transcripts have been edited for content.

Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research use. Researchers must use digital access copies. Access to audiocassettes is restricted for reasons of preservation.

Use Restrictions

To publish all or part of any recording or transcription from this collection, permission must be obtained in writing from the New School Archives and Special Collections. Please contact:

Biographical and Historical Note

The New School was founded in 1919 as the New School for Social Research. It originally served as an institution exclusively serving adult learners and did not grant degrees. Over time, the school grew into a university, and, by 2013, the adult education program was a division of the school named the New School for Public Engagement (in 2016, the program is called the Bachelor's Program for Adults and Transfer Students, one of the Schools of Public Engagement). Interviewees often refer to the adult education program as "the founding division" or the "Adult Division." Other divisions within the university include Eugene Lang College, the New School for Social Research (formerly, the Graduate Faculty), Parsons School of Design, and the College of Performing Arts (which in 2015 combined Jazz, Drama, and the Mannes School of Music).

Interviewer Biography

Gerard O. Hemmerle
Gerard O. Hemmerle attended The New School in 1970 as a non-matriculated student in the Adult Division (now the New School for Public Engagement). He went on to a career in civil service and retired from the New York City Department of Correction, where he had served in the position of Warden Level 1. In private enterprise, as an entrepreneur, Hemmerle owned and operated a sales and marketing franchise (a private buying club) in the home furnishings industry for ten years. Hemmerle attended Kingsborough Community College, Brooklyn College, St. Francis College, and New York University at various times on a part-time basis. As of 2013, he was a full-time matriculated undergraduate in the New School for Public Engagement (now, the Bacherlor's Program for Adults and Transfer Students, School of Public Engagement) when he undertook this oral history project as an independent study. Hemmerle was also studying American literature, writing, and psychology, with an interest in world mythology and religion.

Organization and Arrangement

Recordings are arranged alphabetically by name of interviewee.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Interviewer Gerard O. Hemmerle conducted the interviews in collaboration with the New School Archives and Special Collections. Hemmerle recorded the interviews on equipment provided by the Archives, and files were accessioned immediately upon download, 2013.

Existence and Location of Copies

Original Wave recordings have been converted to MP3 files for patron access. The New School Archives and Special Collections also commissioned transcripts and offers them as PDF files.

Related Materials

A concurrent, ongoing oral history program undertaken by the New School Archives and Special Collections staff members and faculty partners (NS.07.01.01) includes additional audio interviews with administrators, faculty, and staff.

Guide to the independent study oral history project on New School history
New School Archives and Special Collections Staff
May 4, 2016
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description