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New School Human Relations Center event recordings

Identifier: NS-07-02-10


This collection consists of audio and video recordings of class discussions, guest lecturers, and special events programmed by the Human Relations Center at The New School, a long-running program organized by women and directed primarily toward the personal, social and career development of women.


  • 1962 - 1985



99 Analog Recordings (46 1/4 inch open reel tapes; 30 helical scans; 23 audio cassettes; 20:33:38 duration (represents total duration of digitized recordings, only))

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Scope and Content of Collection

This collection consists of audio and video recordings of class discussions, guest lecturers, and special events programmed by the Human Relations Center at The New School. Some of these recordings have been digitized. These can be identified by the presence of a duration in the inventory.

Access Restrictions

A number of the event recordings in this collection have been digitized and are available for access online. Recordings that have not yet been digitized are not available for listening in their original format. They may be digitized at the researchers' expense. Please contact for details.

Use Restrictions

Collection is open for research use. Please contact for details.

Historical Note

The Human Relations Center was a long-running program at The New School organized by women and directed primarily toward the personal, social and career development of women. The entity that grew into the Human Relations Center began in 1951 with a single course offering, Women in the Community: A Workshop in Human Relations." Led by Alice Rice Cook, the workshop would help women achieve "a competent handling of human relations, of oneself and one's surroundings." The following year, there were seven courses offered under the title, Community and Personal Resources: Workshops for Self-Development. By fall of 1953, the program, soon formally named the Human Relations Workshops, launched its first annual conference and offered eleven workshops. The program and its roster of offerings continued to grow into the 1960s and 1970s. At the height of its popularity in the 1970s, as many as three thousand students enrolled in more than seventy-five Human Relations Center courses each semester. Alice Rice Cook directed the Human Relations Center until her retirement in 1966. Ruth Van Doren took over from Cook as director and led the program until the mid-1980s. In 1986, under the directorship of Carla Stevens, the Center was renamed the Vera List Center for Adult Studies. In 1993, the Center ceased to offer a discrete program of study.

In its first decade, the Human Relations Workshops remained separate from the two schools that comprised the New School's Adult Division. By 1963, under a new name, the Human Relations Center, the workshops were clustered with other New School programs offering students a certificate track. The certificate-conferring Human Relations Center was "for adults who seek new opportunities for personal development and new ways in which to contribute to society." While de-emphasizing its focus on women, courses offered during this period still explored "human potentialities" and "problems in marital adjustment," while also adding a slate of more traditional academic subjects. In 1968, with the Center focused on the "dilemmas and aspirations of people in a perplexed age," the program began offering a course of intensive vocational training opportunities for paraprofessional aides in social work, school psychology, and early childhood education. The Center, now renamed the Human Relations Work-Study Center, continued to add new training opportunities, including community planning and community health care and, later, dance, art and drama therapy. These programs often involved field placement at city agencies, and students earned academic credit that could be applied toward a BA degree at the New School. In the early 1970s. the Center partnered with the Head Start Program of New York to open up educational and employment opportunities to a lower-income population.

From its inception and throughout its nearly forty-year history, the Human Relations Center, in content, structure and mission, reflected wider social and cultural changes in the United States, particularly with regard to the role of women. The program in the 1950s caught the emergence of the feminist second wave, in which women--especially white, middle and upper middle class women--were increasingly examining the constraints they felt personally and professionally from having their sphere limited to domestic duties as housewife and mother. (Indeed, Betty Friedan, a pioneer of the 1960s feminist movement, later came to speak at a Human Relations Center conference.) The Human Relations Center of the era was geared toward empowering women to learn about and enter a wider world, enabling them to expand their horizons from traditional women's roles and prepare to more actively participate in society. A unique attribute of the Human Relations Center was its focus on giving women an experience of autonomy in planning their own course of study. Later the program's focus upon vocational support, in particular opening up opportunities for lower-income women and minorities, reflected social and political efforts to acknowledge and combat racial as well as gender inequality. The Center's teaching philosophy, too, reflected trends in education reform, with a commitment to experiential learning, self-directed workshops and alternative paths to college degrees. The Center grew in popularity during the Women's Liberation and human potential movements of the 1970s, drawing the leading lights of the day to conferences and seminars. Guest speakers included Angela Davis, Gloria Steinem, Abraham Maslow, Margaret Mead, Betty Friedan, and Caroline Bird.



Bonham, George W., ed. Women on Campus: The Unfinished Liberation. New Jersey: Transaction Publishers, 2006.

Salmans, Sandra. "Adult Education Goes to Market." New York Times, August 3, 1986.

Organization and Arrangement

Arranged chronologically.

Custodial History

These recordings were probably transferred to the New School's Raymond Fogelman Library from the office of Brian Kase, manager of audiovisual services at The New School.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The staff of The New School Archives and Special Collections assembled this collection from a larger set of legacy recordings transferred from The New School's Raymond Fogelman Library following the establishment of The New School Archives, circa 2012.

Related Materials

The Human Relations Center records (NS.02.03.01) document the development and programming of the center throughout its existence in two-dimensional, textually-based formats.

Processing Information

For the recordings in this collection that have been digitized, processing archivists confirmed that the titles of events match the content of the recording. For those recordings that have not been digitized, the correlation between event title and content of the recording remains unconfirmed.

Guide to the New School Human Relations Center event recordings
New School Archives and Special Collections Staff
July 6, 2020
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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