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Parsons School of Design Alumni Association records

 Record Group
Identifier: PC-03-02-01

Summary

The Parsons School of Design Alumni Association was incorporated in 1952 and continued until Parsons School of Design merged into the New School for Social Research in 1970. Records contain correspondence, financial records, minutes, photographic materials, printed materials, scrapbooks of clippings and subject files. Also includes documents generated by earlier alumni associations that the Alumni Association incorporated into its working files.

Dates

  • 1920 - 1970
  • Majority of material found within 1952 - 1970

Creator

Access Restrictions

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.

Historical Note

The Parsons School of Design Alumni Association was incorporated in 1952. The previous year, Parsons President Van Day Truex, Executive Vice President Geoffrey Gates and the Office of Educational Relations had solicited graduates to form an Alumni Advisory Committee with the goal of re-establishing an alumni organization for the school. An alumni association incorporated in 1942 had lapsed into inactivity, possibly due to the demands of the Second World War. Documents indicate Frank Alvah Parsons had organized an earlier alumni association for graduates of the New York School of Fine and Applied Art in the 1920s. However, little is known about the first group except for its brevity. The Alumni Association incorporated in 1952 continued until Parsons School of Design merged into the New School University in 1970. At that time, the administration of Parsons School of Design and the New School University folded the functions of the Parsons Alumni Association into the New School University's Development Office, and it ceased to exist as a separate entity.

The Parsons Alumni Association's primary goals included raising funds for scholarships and promoting the school's programs and students. The Alumni Association sponsored functions such as dinners, cocktail parties and exhibitions of student and alumni/ae work. One of the most significant events was Parsons School of Design's 60th anniversary celebration held in 1956, which culminated in the awarding of a Parsons medal to distinguished contributors to the fields of arts and design. The Alumni Association also existed as a means for alumni/ae to maintain a connection with Parsons School of Design, whether by locating former classmates, recommending prospective students, or obtaining proof of matriculation.

Publication of the Alumni Bulletin (later titled Alumni) was the Alumni Association's primary vehicle for celebrating alumni/ae professional and personal achievements, championing current students, and publicizing the institution to the arts and design communities. It began publication in 1940 as a black and white, non-illustrated newsletter and gradually evolved into a glossy magazine. The Executive Secretary of the Alumni Association edited the magazine and solicited content. For many years, Parsons School of Design alumnus and faculty member John Russo served as Art Director.

The Alumni Association cultivated and maintained relations with alumni chapters throughout the United States beginning in 1953 with the establishment of the Atlanta Chapter. Throughout the 1950s, the Alumni Association worked with alumni/ae in Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. to establish functioning chapters.

The Alumni Association held annual elections for the position of President and Council Members. A chronological listing of Parsons School of Design Alumni Association Presidents appears below. The Alumni Association was administered by an executive secretary whose duties included writing and editing Alumni Association printed materials, corresponding with alumni/ae, and managing financial accounts. Her office also assumed responsibility for maintaining a series of scrapbooks begun in 1926. Director of Educational Relations Dorothy Livingston Arnold, an alumna of the Teacher Training program, was the first Executive Secretary beginning in 1952. Following her retirement, a succession of interim employees managed the Alumni Association until the hiring of Grace Agnew Story in September 1957. Mrs. Story served as the Executive Secretary of the Alumni Association until 1970.

A three-page description of the Alumni Association's structure and administration entitled "Know Your Alumni Organization" appeared in the November 1962 issue of Alumni and is available in the Kellen Design Archives’ periodicals collection.

Presidents of the Parsons Alumni Association

1941-circa 1944
William Pahlmann (Interior Design, '30)
1944-1946
Kirk C. Wilkinson (Graphic Design, '31)
1946-?
Stephanie Cartwright (Fashion Illustration, '31)
1952-1955
Albert Bliss (Graphic Design, '22)
1955-1957
Stephanie Cartwright (Fashion Illustration, '31)
1957-1958
Jo Copeland [Benson] (Fashion Design, '17)
1958-1964
Jack [R. John] Lowery, Jr. (Graphic Design, '51)
1964-1966
William Raiser (Graphic Design, '35)
1966-1967
Otho S. Shaw (Interior Design, '49)
1967-1968
Jack [R. John] Lowery, Jr. (Graphic Design, '51)
1968-1969 (resigned)
Thomas Stanton Gould (Industrial Design, '61)
1969-?
Stephen P. Gasperecz (Interior Design, '50)

Extent

24.5 Cubic Feet (32 boxes, 10 clippings scrapbooks, 10 oversize folders)

Language of Materials

English

Scope and Contents

The Parsons School of Design Alumni Association records contain correspondence, financial records, minutes, photographic materials, printed materials, scrapbooks of newsclippings, and subject files documenting the organization from its founding in 1952 until 1970, when Parsons School of Design became affiliated with the New School for Social Research. The records also include documents generated by earlier alumni associations that the Alumni Association incorporated into its working files.

Individual alumni/ae files, which make up the largest series in these records, primarily comprise correspondence between the Alumni Association and individual alumni/ae. Materials in these files yield a great deal of biographical information, including areas of study and graduation dates, military service, marriage and death dates, children (names and dates of birth), residential history and employment history, and exhibitions. Files may also contain photographic documentation of alumni/ae design work. A name index for the alumni/ae files is available upon request as is an index to a series of ten scrapbooks.

Collectively, the Alumni Association records document the impact of Parsons School of Design over the course of thirty years on the fields of advertising, fashion, marketing, interior design and decoration, and art instruction. These records will be of interest to researchers investigating the development of Parsons from the 1940s through 1970, as seen by former students. It will also be useful to those researching fund raising and public relations efforts. The Alumni Association records contain extensive documentation of dinners, dances, cocktail parties, and exhibitions intended to raise the profile of Parsons School of Design while simultaneously accruing funds for scholarships and library materials. The records generated by the Alumni Association’s annual Alumni Fund Drive contain comprehensive documentation on planning strategies, advertising, and analysis of returns.

The Alumni Association records also contain materials created by non-alumni/ae. Examples include a 1920 speech typescript on the relationship between architecture and interior design by architect Alfred M. Githens and a 1956 speech by August Heckscher in which he considers the effects of overconsumption on the design professions. Biographical files on recipients of the 1956 Parsons Medal include but are not limited to Italian designer Franco Albini, Brazilian architect Lucio Costa, and British furniture designer Sir Gordon Russell.
The Parsons School of Design Alumni Association records (PIC.03.002) contain correspondence, financial records, minutes, photographic materials, printed materials, scrapbooks of newsclippings, and subject files documenting the organization from its founding in 1952 until 1970, when Parsons School of Design became affiliated with the New School for Social Research. The records also include documents generated by earlier alumni associations that the Alumni Association incorporated into its working files.
Individual alumni/ae files, which make up the largest series in these records, primarily comprise correspondence between the Alumni Association and individual alumni/ae. Materials in these files yield a great deal of biographical information, including areas of study and graduation dates, military service, marriage and death dates, children (names and dates of birth), residential history and employment history, and exhibitions. Files may also contain photographic documentation of alumni/ae design work. A name index for the alumni/ae files is available upon request as is an index to a series of ten scrapbooks.
Collectively, the Alumni Association records document the impact of Parsons School of Design over the course of thirty years on the fields of advertising, fashion, marketing, interior design and decoration, and art instruction. These records will be of interest to researchers investigating the development of Parsons from the 1940s through 1970, as seen by former students. It will also be useful to those researching fund raising and public relations efforts. The Alumni Association records contain extensive documentation of dinners, dances, cocktail parties, and exhibitions intended to raise the profile of Parsons School of Design while simultaneously accruing funds for scholarships and library materials. The records generated by the Alumni Association’s annual Alumni Fund Drive contain comprehensive documentation on planning strategies, advertising, and analysis of returns.
The Alumni Association records also contain materials created by non-alumni/ae. Examples include a 1920 speech typescript on the relationship between architecture and interior design by architect Alfred M. Githens and a 1956 speech by August Heckscher in which he considers the effects of overconsumption on the design professions. Biographical files on recipients of the 1956 Parsons Medal include but are not limited to Italian designer Franco Albini, Brazilian architect Lucio Costa, and British furniture designer Sir Gordon Russell.

Organization and Arrangement

Organized by subject in 6 series: I. Administration, 1922-1970; II. Fund raising and scholarships, 1941-1970; III. Subject files, 1922-1970; IV. Photographs, 1920-1970; V. Alumni and alumnae biographical files, 1942-1970; VI. Clippings scrapbooks

Indexes

An in-house index of personal and corporate names is available for consultation in the New School Archives.

Other Finding Aids

For selected item-level description and images from the Parsons School of Design Alumni Association records, see The New School Archives Digital Collections at http://digitalarchives.library.newschool.edu/index.php/Detail/collections/PC030201.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Records transferred from the New School University Development Office to the New School Archives (then known as the Kellen Archives) in 1995.

Related Materials

Alumni magazine and its predecessor, Alumni Bulletin, are available in the New School Archives and Special Collections. However, correspondence regarding the periodicals and production materials such as photographic prints, illustrations, and press materials will be found in the Parsons School of Design Alumni Association records. Invitations, announcements, and related ephemera produced by the New York Chapter of the Alumni Association may be found in Exhibitions and public programs collection (NS.05.03.01).
Title
Guide to the Parsons School of Design Alumni Association records
Status
Completed
Author
New School Archives and Special Collections Staff
Date
July 2009
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
English