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Francis J. Geck papers

 Collection
Identifier: KA-0052-01

Summary

Francis Geck (1900-2005) graduated from the New York School of Fine and Applied Art (later, Parsons School of Design) in 1924 and taught interior design at the school's Paris Ateliers until 1927. Following a professional career in his native Detroit, Geck became a professor of Fine Arts at University of Colorado, where he taught for 39 years. The papers contain correspondence with Parsons administrators, including Frank Alvah Parsons, design renderings and student work, publications, and course-related materials.

Dates

  • 1923 - 2001

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

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

Francis Joseph Geck was born December 20, 1900 in Detroit, Michigan to Jacob C. and Anna Mary Angermeier Geck. In his autobiographical writings, Geck divides his life into progressive stages of professional development: a stage design period (1923-1924), a teaching period (1924-1927), a professional period (1927-1930), an academic period (1930-1969), and a retirement period (1969-2005).

Geck’s high school education was interrupted by World War I, during which he was often required to leave school to work at a family-owned grocery store. In 1922, he graduated from Cass Technical School in Detroit with a certificate in Commercial Art. During this time he also studied oil painting with John P. Wicker. Geck’s instructors at Cass encouraged him to pursue his interest in stage design at the New York School of Fine and Applied Art, which later became Parsons School of Design. During his studies, Geck excelled in his interior design courses, and Frank Alvah Parsons offered him a teaching fellowship at the school’s Paris Ateliers. After graduating in 1924, Geck remained in Paris as an instructor of Interior Architecture and Decoration. He also served as the New York School of Fine and Applied Art’s tour director and director of research classes in Italy and England.

Geck returned to Detroit in 1927 and worked as a designer for the interior decorating firm of William Wright, until the stock market crash forced its closure in 1929. While employed at William Wright, he designed the interior of the Lawrence Fisher mansion. He began teaching in the Fine Arts Department of University of Colorado at Boulder in September 1930 and would remain with that institution until his retirement in 1969. During that time, Geck received his M.F.A. from Syracuse University, published bibliographies on Italian art history, and wrote extensively on art education. In addition to reference texts, Geck developed a handheld pedagogical device called “Dial an English Furniture Style” which allows users to ascertain the provenance of period furniture.

Geck held official positions within numerous local and national arts organization, including Delta Phi Delta, a national honor art fraternity of which he was president from 1954 until 1958. In 1963, Geck received a Citation of Merit from the American Society of Interior Designs (ASID) for his work in design education.

Following his retirement, Geck returned to Michigan and prepared his teaching and lecture materials for self-publication. Geck’s wife, Evelyn Marie Sturdyvin, whom he married in 1937, died in 1981. Geck died September 12, 2005 in Roseville, Michigan, at the age of 104.

Extent

1.9 Cubic Feet (4 boxes, 2 oversize folders)

Language of Materials

English

Organization and Arrangement

Organized into 6 series: I. Biographical materials, 1998; II.Correspondence, 1924-1971; III.Paris Ateliers tour files, 1925-1927; IV.Printed materials and publications, 1933-2001; V. Revision of Interior Decoration, 1955-1957; VI.Sketches and renderings, circa 1923-1937

Other Finding Aids

For selected item-level description and images from the Francis J. Geck papers, see The New School Archives Digital Collections at http://digitalarchives.library.newschool.edu/index.php/Detail/collections/KA0052.

Related Materials

Related materials may be found in the New School Archives’ Parsons School of Design Alumni Association records (PC.03.02.01). These include 56 snapshots taken by Geck during his teaching career with the New York School of Fine and Applied Art’s Paris Ateliers, donated by Geck to the Alumni Association. The Alumni Association records also contain a biographical file on Geck.

Measured drawings created by students at the Paris Ateliers may be found in the Parsons School of Design academic departments, programs and schools collection (pre-2009 accessions) (PC.02.01.01), Parsons Paris series, Student work subseries. These items include original drawings reproduced in Geck's publications. Materials stored offsite.

Francis J. Geck's bibliographies of Italian art may be found in the New School Libraries.

The University of Colorado at Boulder holds a related collection of materials documenting Francis J. Geck’s teaching career and that of Evelyn Marie Sturdyvin Geck, his wife. From A Guide to Manuscript Collections, Seventh Edition, 2008. University of Colorado at Boulder, University Libraries, Archives. Accessed July 17, 2009 at http://ucblibraries.colorado.edu/archives/guides/manuscript2008.pdf

Materials relating to Francis J. Geck's involvement in Boulder-based civic and cultural organizations are held by the Boulder Public Library's Carnegie Branch Library for Public History.

Furniture and architectural renderings created by Francis J. Geck during his professional career are held by the Detroit Historical Society.
Title
Guide to the Francis J. Geck papers
Status
Completed
Author
New School Archives and Special Collections Staff
Date
2009
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
English