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Parsons School of Design handbooks and orientation materials collection

Identifier: PC-05-05-01


Contains handbooks and guides issued by the administration of Parsons School of Design and The New School to familiarize Parsons faculty, students, and students' families with school regulations, policies, and procedures. Also includes materials designed to acquaint students with aspects of living and studying in New York City.


  • 1968 - 2007, undated



3.9 Cubic Feet (3 boxes, 1 folder)

Scope and Contents

Collection contains handbooks, guides, and loose orientation materials created from 1968 onwards.

Handbooks consist of booklets featuring information on campus resources, pedagogy objectives, student and faculty responsibilities, degree requirements, academic policies, and codes of conduct. Separate handbooks pertain to students and faculty. In 1989, Parsons School of Design also began issuing handbooks for parents and families of students to acquaint them with school policies. The earliest handbooks date to 1968.

Orientation guides contain packets of printed materials distributed to students upon arrival at Parsons. Much of the information featured in the orientation packets repeats information in the handbooks, although it is often presented in a less formal manner. Orientation materials may include campus maps, schedules of events and academic calendars, administrative office directories, financial aid forms and applications, instructions for class registration, and assorted brochures, pamphlets, and booklets created by various offices and departments to help acclimate new students to an urban university environment. Many orientation packets contain guides to life in New York, with suggestions for purchasing school supplies, books, and clothing. The earliest orientation guides date to 1981.

Language of Materials

All materials comprising the collection are in English.

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. Please contact:

Historical Note

Parsons School of Design was established in 1896 as the Chase School of Art. While founded as a school of fine arts instruction, it soon added courses in "applied arts," which became the primary focus under the direction of Frank Alvah Parsons. The name of the school changed several times, to the New York School of Art in 1902, then to the New York School of Fine and Applied Art in 1909. In 1940, the Board of Trustees voted to change the school's name to Parsons School of Design in recognition of Frank Alvah Parsons' leadership and to differentiate it from other, similarly named institutions.

In 1921, Parsons' European School opened with headquarters in France called the Paris Ateliers. The Ateliers closed in 1939 due to the escalation of World War Two, and never reopened in its pre-war form. Parsons' summer study tours of Europe resumed in the late 1940s. When Parsons affiliated with the New School for Social Research in 1970, students could for the first time earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the New School for Social Research (before the merger, students earned either a certificate for a three-year program of study at Parsons, or a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree granted by New York University, by taking courses at both schools). A more robust, year-round overseas program resumed at Parsons in the late 1970s under the leadership of Dean David C. Levy. The 1970s also saw the growth of continuing education programs at Parsons, and the introduction of an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree track. In the 1980s, Parsons developed a number of partnerships with international schools, and launched a short-lived merger between Parsons School of Design and the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles. The first Parsons graduate program was established at Parsons in 1978, in Fine Arts, with masters programs in other areas added in subsequent years, including a Master of Architecture program begun in 1989. The 2000s have seen an increase in the number of graduate programs at Parsons, with new programs introduced nearly every year.


Organized into two series by function and arranged chronologically within each series. Undated materials precede materials with known dates.

Custodial History

Collection assembled by New School Archives staff between approximately 1994 and 2008.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was created by the staff of the New School Archives.


No new materials have been added to this collection since 2008. For more recent documentation, researchers may wish to consult the New School Student Services collection (NS.03.06.02), an ongoing collection that includes handbooks and orientation packets.

Processing Information

This collection was created prior to the re-establishment of the Kellen Design Archives in 2008. Archives staff closed this collection to further additions at that time.

Guide to the Parsons School of Design handbooks and orientation materials collection (pre-2008 accessions)
New School Archives and Special Collections Staff
July 21, 2011
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • December 18, 2015: Updated collection inventory, and new notes added.