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Harry Gideonse records

 Record Group
Identifier: NS-01-02-01


Harry Gideonse served as chancellor of the New School for Social Research (now The New School) from 1966 to 1975. This collection contains administrative material from his time at the New School for Social Research, and from work with other organizations during this period, including Freedom House and City University of New York. Includes correspondence, financial and fundraising documents, curriculum and conference material.


  • 1944 - 1975
  • Majority of material found within 1952 - 1975



3.9 Cubic Feet (3 boxes, 1 folder)

Scope and Content of Collection

This collection contains correspondence, conference material, legal documents, and other materials pertaining to Harry Gideonse’s role as chancellor of the New School, president of Freedom House, and as a board member of other institutions. Aside from a couple of items, all of the material in the collection dates from Gideonse's time as chancellor of the New School for Social Research.

Series I. Correspondence, consists of incoming and outgoing correspondence from the time Gideonse was chancellor of The New School. Some of the correspondence include resumes, articles, booklets, and invitations. Also in the Corresponence series is a transcript of a speech Gideonse delivered at the 1944 annual meeting of the Head Mistresses Associatio of the East, one of the only documents in the collection pre-dating Gideonse's years at The New School. Additional correspondence related to Gideonse's work with The New School, as well as with City University of New York and Freedom House, will be found in the subject files in Series II.

Series II. Subject files, consists of material related to Gideonse's work with various organizations, institutions, and special events. This material includes correspondence, conference plans, building plans, financial and legal documents, press releases, and scholarship applications.

Gideonse held leadership positions at many of the organizations found in the subject files, including Accuracy in Media, Inc., City University Construction Fund, and Freedom House. The Freedom House material includes some publications that pre-date Gideonse's tenure at The New School, but aside from these all records in Series II are from his New School years. Also included in this series are files on education projects Gideonse was involved with, including the "Freedom and Order" curriculum, the Center for the Study of Television and Politics, and the Netherland-American Foundation.

Throughout his time at The New School, Gideonse was actively collecting books and held subscriptions to many periodicals. Most of the material (letters of transmission, receipts, and book orders) relating to this activity has been deaccessioned. The publication houses Gideonse frequently ordered from include Brooklyn College Bookstore, Brown and Delhi, International University Bookseller Ltd., England, Marga Schoeller Bucherstube, and Presses Universitaires de France. Application materials along with acceptance and rejection letters from the Frieda Wunderlich Scholarship Fund have also been deaccessioned.

The records do not include any material relating to the "Gideonse Affair" of 1968.

Language of Materials

English and some 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

Harry Gideonse served as chancellor of the New School for Social Research from 1966 until his resignation in 1975. Gideonse was born on May 17, 1901 in the Netherlands and mostly grew up there aside from a few years his family lived in Rochester, New York. He returned to the United States after graduating from high school and went on to attend Columbia University, where he received his bachelors and master’s degree in economics.

From 1926 to 1928, Gideonse lived in Geneva, Switzerland, serving as the executive director of The International House, an organization that offered support and services to students studying abroad. While in this position he encountered nascent anti-semitic movements in Europe, and helped Jewish students obtain passports. He returned to the United States in 1928 to accept a teaching position in economics at Rutgers. He went on to teach at the University of Chicago and Barnard, where he chaired the economics department from 1938 to 1939.

From 1939 to 1966 Gideonse served as president of Brooklyn College. Under Gideonse's tenure, the size and academic prominence of the college increased. His presidency was also marked by controversy. Gideonse took a strong stance against communism on campus, gaining a reputation as an authoritarian and a "red-baiter" among those on the left. Among the controversial actions taken by Gideonse at Brooklyn College was shutting down the student newspaper, which he suspected of having communist ties. Despite these controversies, Gideonse did greatly increase the academic standing of Brooklyn College, gaining him admiration from some students and from many in the world of higher education. Gideonse resigned from Brooklyn College in 1966 after a dispute over a proposal he put forth with other officials from City University of New York (CUNY) colleges to charge tuition in the traditionally free CUNY system.

While at Brooklyn College, Gideonse helped found the organization Freedom House, a group dedicated to promoting civil liberties and democracy around the world. Freedom House emerged to counter totalitarianism and in particular, what its founders saw as the threat posed by Soviet communism to American ideals. Although Gideonse had a reputation as being an ardent anti-communist he strongly denounced McCarthyism in his positions at Freedom House and Brooklyn College.

After resigning from Brooklyn College, Gideonse was appointed Chancellor of the New School, a position he served in until 1975. At the New School Gideonse continued to pursue his interest in academic freedom and democracy. He designed a curriculum called "Freedom and Order" that was meant to be a three year interdisciplinary masters program; it was never realized. Controversy followed Gideonse to the New School, where his reputation as an authoritarian anti-communist raised the ire of students at the Graduate Faculty.

On October 14, 1968 a group of students interrupted a class being taught by Gideonse called Academic Freedom. They were protesting the lack of transparency in the decision to hire Gideonse, and what they saw as the dearth of opportunity to engage Gideonse in dialogue. After calling guards in to try and remove the students, Gideonse ended up cancelling his class for the day. In the aftermath, the faculty passed a resolution condemning the students who intruded and then passing a second resolution creating a disciplinary body, likely to deal with further incidents like the one that had occured in Gideonse's classroom. Many students at the Graduate Faculty were outraged by the unanimity with which the faculty supported Gideonse. The classroom disruption and ensuing fracas came to be called by some, "The Gideonse Affair."

Despite this incident, Gideonse remained at the New School for seven more years. During that time, he worked on various initiatives and expansions of the university. One of these was a proposed Center for the Study of Television and Politics. The aim of the center was to study and collect televised political advertisements and to study how they influence elections and the general political climate. Although the center was never fully realized, it gained a lot of attention and interest from scholars.

In 1985, Harry Gideonse died in East Setauket, Long Island, at the age of 83.


Fischel, Jacob Robert. "Harry Gideonse: The Public Life." PhD diss., University of Delaware, 1973.

Freedom House website. Accessed November 7, 2018.

Granpa (1968 October 24). October 10 1968. New School Periodicals; Granpa. New School Archives and Special Collections Digital Archive. Accessed December 7, 2018.

Waggonermarch, Walter H. "Dr. Harry D. Gideonse Dead; Ex-Head of Brooklyn College." The New York Times Archives. March 14, 1985. Accessed November 7, 2018.

Weikart, Lynn. "Academic Freedom." Crux 1, no. 1 (December 1968): 15-20.


Arranged alphabetically in two series: 1. Correspondence 2. Subject files

Immediate Source of Acquisition

These files were identified as Harry Gideonse's records and separated from a large accession of records transferred from The New School President's Office in 2015.

Related Materials

Further information on Harry Gideonse may be found in The New School Archives within the Faculty Vertical Files collection (NS.08.02.02), the Graduate Faculty collection (NS.02.02.01), the New School Adult Division Dean's Office Records (NS.02.01.01), and the David C. Levy records (PC.01.04.01). The Harry David Gideonse papers are held by Brooklyn College. Columbia University holds an oral history interview conducted with Gideonse in 1961 prior to Gideonse's tenure with The New School.

Guide to the Harry Gideonse records
New School Archives and Special Collections Staff
December 14, 2018
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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