A View of The New School Through 100 Archival Objects

The selection of material, curated by the Archives staff and beautifully photographed by BFA student, Priscilla Gaona (Parsons ‘20), is a small representation of the vast and diverse collections in the archives holdings.

Ten new cards from the series will be released monthly in different areas around the campus leading up to the Festival of New in October 2019.

Archival Objects, #1–10

1. Bloomingdale’s Bag (1975)

Michaele Vollbracht (he added, then later dropped the “e”), a 1968 Parsons graduate, designed this iconic Bloomingdale’s shopping bag in 1975. The bag, which did not include the store name, became a signifier of insider status on the streets of New York City.

part of Michaele Vollbracht Fashion Illustrations

2. Postbill for Nathan the Wise (1942)

This 18th century play decrying anti-Semitism spoke to the contemporary emergency when it was staged at The New School during World War II. A message printed on the program was a reminder of the ongoing war: “The New School Building is one of the safest in the city. In the event of a blackout or air raid, remain seated until the all clear signal is given.”

part of New School Publicity Office records

3. Dolls at Fashion Show (1996)

In 1996, Parsons alumnus and doll maker Robert Tonner donated 45 dolls to the school and coordinated the contributions of their designer apparel by Parsons alumni, faculty, and friends. The dolls were exhibited and subsequently auctioned at the Parsons Fashion Critics Awards Benefit, a scholarship fundraiser and fashion show highlighting student work. (Featured designs [L-R]: Claire McCardell by Joseph Pescatore and Maria Laveris, Willi Smith by Toukie Smith, Donna Karan.)

part of Parsons School of Design School of Fashion records

4. Granpa (March 2 1968)

Granpa was a newspaper published by the New School chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). The paper’s title is a play on Granma, the name of a yacht that transported Cuban revolutionaries from Mexico to Cuba in 1956 to overthrow their government. Granma went on to become the title of the Cuban communist party newspaper.

part of New School periodicals

5. Students of the New York School of Fine and Applied Art — which became Parsons — on a Beach in Venice (1924–1927)

This snapshot was donated to the Parsons Alumni Association by Dr. Francis Geck, who took the photo while teaching in the New York School of Fine and Applied Art’s Paris Ateliers in the 1920s. Students in the program often traveled to Italy and England, as well as to the French countryside, to learn about the history of interior design, to sketch, and, evidently, to swim!

part of Parsons School of Design Alumni Association, Photographs

6. First Workers’ Dance Spartakiade (1933)

Dance-off at The New School! Subtitled The Dance is a Weapon in the Class Struggle, Dance Spartakiade showcased union, communist, and socialist-affiliated dance troupes, collectively called the Workers Dance League.

part of Workers Dance League event program and photograph

7. Houdini Séance (1977)

On Halloween 1977, on the 51st anniversary of Harry Houdini’s death, a séance was held in the New School auditorium at 66 West 12th Street, in an attempt to communicate with Houdini as “some form of consciousness beyond death.” The séance was part of a New School course, Amazing Houdini!! The Man . . . The Myth . . . The Magic taught by Gabriel Grayson.

part of New School short courses and special programs audio recordings collection

8. Graduate Studies in Class and Gender (1980s)

Gender Studies has a complicated history at The New School. This flyer from the 1980s, promoting a Class and Gender program within the Economics Department, is evidence of the longstanding interest in this discipline among New School students. As of 2019, New School undergraduates can minor in Gender Studies and a Graduate Certificate is offered in Gender and Sexuality Studies.

part of New School marketing and promotional materials

9. Daniel Cranford Smith Apartment in New School Building at 66 West 12th Street (1930)

In 1929, New School devotee and board member Daniel Cranford Smith offered the New School a great deal on a property he owned on West 12th Street, enabling the school to erect its flagship building. In return, Smith and his family were given a well-appointed apartment in the building, with a lifelong lease.

part of New School architectural plans and drawings for 66 West Twelfth Street

10. Dress Code Memo (December 21 1960)

Sixty years ago, female students were not permitted to wear pants at Parsons School of Design. Within a decade, those rules were swept away, with the Fashion Design Department as the last holdout.

part of Parsons School of Design Office of the President records

About the Archives

The New School Archives & Special Collections collects, preserves and provides access to many types of archival and rare materials, including artists’ books, film and audio, letters, office files, journals, scrapbooks, photographs, posters, university publications, and much more. We offer instruction in primary source research, collaborate with faculty on archives-based assignments, and mount and support exhibits and public programs.

To begin your research in the archives, please write us at archivist@newschool.edu, or peruse our collection guides.

twitter @tnsarchives | instagram @newschoolarchives

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