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Parsons School of Design Product Design Department, Tony Whitfield records

 Record Group
Identifier: PC-02-03-02


This record group consists of documentation created by Parsons School of Design's Product Design Department between 1990-2015. The records were created or received by various individuals, including department chairs Richard Yelle and Tony Whitfield. The record group contains office files pertaining to the administration of the department and Product Design student projects.


  • 1991 - 2010
  • Majority of material found within 1999 - 2008



7.8 Cubic Feet (6 boxes, 5 oversize folders)

41.7 Gigabytes (4,960 files migrated from 31 optical discs, 2 VHS cassettes, 1 MiniDV)

Language of Materials


Scope and Content of Collection

The records consist of three series, Office files, Student work, and Student work: Grouped projects and exhibitions. The files include departmental records from the years spanning the chairmanships of Richard Yelle (1986-1998) and Tony Whitfield (1999-2009). The bulk of the files were created during Whitfield's tenure as chair. Files were also created by other Parsons School of Design faculty and administrators, including Atim Annette Oton, who served as associate chair of the Product Design Department during Whitfield's chairmanship; and PJ Carlino, Parsons director of administration, 2001-2007, and assistant chair of Product Design, 2000-2001.

Office records consist of audiovisual materials, contracts between Parsons School of Design and external partners, correspondence and memoranda, electronic files, e-mail and website print-outs, event and trip-planning documentation, meeting minutes and agenda, press and publicity materials, proposals, reports, and syllabi. In general, files tend to document a discrete moment or single event rather than a range of activities over time. Many files contain only one or two documents. A mix of analog and born-digital files are present in this record group, encompassing textual and visual documentation of the Production Design Department's activities.

The student work series represent an array of student projects. For the most part, only those projects with an indentifiable date and student creator(s) have been retained. The student work in this series was stored in an open shelving area of the Product Design office before transfer to The New School Archives. Documentation of student work may also be found in the Office files series, most commonly in publicity-related files containing photographic images of projects, but was stored separately from the work itself in a filing cabinet with other administrative records.

The grouped projects series primarily consists of files in which multiple projects are documented, including files on exhibitions featuring student work.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use. Most of the digital files migrated from CDs and DVDs may be accessed onsite in The New School Archives. MiniDV and VHS cassettes have been reformatted to digital files. Online access to the audiovisual files is available through The New School Archives Digital Collections database. For reasons of preservation, researchers may not use the original cassettes. Files with faculty or other personnel salary, performance reviews, and hiring information are restricted for 50 years from creation date of item (or last creation date in file). Please contact for appointment.

Use Restrictions

In accordance with The New School's Intellectual Property Rights Policy, copyright is held by each project's respective author. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the user.

Historical Note

The New York School of Art (which eventually became Parsons School of Design) established a Handicrafts Department in 1904, which became the Crafts Department the following year. This department continued until 1917. It was revived again in 1979, focusing on three programs: ceramics, fibers, and metals. In 1982, the department name was changed to Design, Craft, and Technology; at this time the metals program was expanded to include jewelry design. The following years brought further name changes: Clay, Fiber, Metal Design Department, 1983; Clay, Metal, Textile Design Department, 1984; and Clay, Metal, Textile, and Product Design Department, 1988. In 1990, the name was simplified to the Product Design Department, with the understanding that this term encompassed various forms of craftsmanship and product construction, namely, clay, furniture, glass, metal, product and textile design. As of 2021, Product Design is situated in the School of Constructed Environments.

Organization and Arrangement

Organized in three series. Series I is arranged alphabetically; Series II and III are arranged chronologically by year.

  1. Office files
  2. Student work: Individual projects
  3. Student work: Grouped projects and exhibitions

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Transferred directly from Product Design Department offices to The New School Archives, 2015.

Related Materials

The New School Archives holds records from an earlier transfer, Parsons School of Design Product Design Department, Richard Yelle records (PC.02.03.01) dating from the 1980s and 1990s. Student work from courses taught by Robert Rabinovitz (PC.02.09.01) document product design courses taught by Rabinovitz in Parsons' School of Design Strategies. Syllabi from the Product Design Department will be found in Parsons School of Design syllabi collection (PC.01.05.01). A small amount of student work from the Product Design Department dating between 1998-2008 will be found in the Parsons School of Design academic departments, programs and schools collection (PC.02.01.02).

Processing Information

New School Archives staff took the the majority of file titles in Series I. Office files from original folder labels. Staff re-named file titles only when original labels were mis-leading about contents, vague, or if the contents were clearly misfiled. Archivists created and assigned all file titles in Series II and Series III using student names, project titles, and dates observed within the records. Please alert The New School Archives staff to any inaccuracies.

Guide to the Parsons School of Design Product Design Department, Tony Whitfield records
New School Archives and Special Collections Staff
November 22, 2021
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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