A View of The New School Through 100 Archival Objects

Collect them ALL! 🦉🤓

In honor of The New School’s upcoming centennial, the Archives and Special Collections is releasing a limited edition deck of printed cards featuring 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.

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

11. Bang! (December 1990)

According to the editor of this Lang student newspaper, Bang! was a “mass-produced collage.” Each issue featured a back page “Personals” section. Was this pre-internet version of Tinder for real? We have no idea.

part of New School Periodicals

12. Bath Mat: First Annual Fashion Show by the Students and Faculty of Parsons at Lake Placid (1982)

In the 1980s and ’90s, Parsons offered programs in Japan, Italy, France, Malaysia, Korea, the Dominican Republic, and Lake Placid, New York. The summer workshops at Lake Placid included clay, metals, surface design, papermaking, wood, printmaking, glass, photography, blacksmithing, felt making, and basketry. This student-designed poster was the first–and quite possibly the only–annual fashion show ever held at Parsons Lake Placid.

part of Parsons School of Design poster collection (pre-2007)

13. Center for New York City Affairs Spring 1971 course catalog and photograph of Shirley Chisholm at The New School (1975)

Shirley Chisholm, the first African American woman elected to Congress, taught a course at the New School’s Center for New York City Affairs in the spring of 1971 entitled “Black Power and White Politics.” While teaching the class, Chisholm was also busy making history once again–shortly after the spring 1971 semester ended she declared her candidacy for President, becoming the first black candidate of a major political party to do so.

part of Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy collection & New School photograph collection

14. New School Bulletin (L to R) Vol. 43 №5 (1986), Vol. 43 №1 (1985), Vol. 42 №1 (1984)

The New School course catalog collection, which ranges from the school’s 1919 founding to the 2000s, documents an evolving intellectual zeitgeist through the lens of curricular change. The catalog covers, too, reflect the artistic sensibility of their time. The covers here, from the 1980s, include one by Keith Haring, a quintessential artist of the era.

part of New School course catalog collection

15. Foreign Students’ Twist Party (1960s)

These dancers may have been participants in the New School “English-in-Action” program, where foreign-born students were paired with community volunteers to sharpen their conversational skills and adjust to American life. What better way to adjust than to do the twist, following the rock ’n’ roll dance craze sweeping the nation in the early ‘60s?

part of New School photograph collection

16. Ideas Are High Explosives (1945–1961)

This booklet compiles nearly 20 years of weekly New School Bulletin editorials written by the school’s first president, Alvin Johnson. In an elegant voice sprinkled with folksy metaphors, Johnson takes on world affairs. A recurring theme was the danger posed by the perversion of the English language, including the unfortunate spread of “weasel words,” which Johnson defined as “sneaking words that slip out of their dark holes in numskulls to bite and suck blood.”

part of Alvin Saunders Johnson collection

17. Ms. magazine cover. “Women and Money” (1973)

This cover shows off the pop sensibility of Parsons alumna Bea Feitler, the originating art director for this seminal feminist magazine. Feitler got her start as co-art director, with Ruth Ansel, of Harper’s Bazaar, a job she got through her Parsons’ teacher and mentor Marvin Israel. Feitler became known for her close collaborations with photographers, including Richard Avedon and Annie Leibovitz.

part of Bea Feitler papers

18. Bread Book (1974)

This 1974 Parsons yearbook was all about bread. Rather than typical yearbook content, the Bread Book featured photographs and articles about local bakeries alongside recipes for different breads. Bread Book was compiled and designed by communication design students under the direction of their professor, the famed art director Cipe Pineles.

part of Parsons School of Design administrative and other offices collection (pre-2008 accessions)

19. “Dixhuit Basses Dances Garnies de Recoupes et Tordions” 16th century lute tablature (undated)

Artist and amateur musician Victor Hammer likely hand copied this lute tablature for his own playing. While standard musical notation tells you which tone to produce, when and how long to play it, tablature tells you how to produce that tone on a specific instrument.

part of Victor Hammer collection

20. Student Notebook (1900–1907)

This is the work of a student named Roy Fleming who studied at the New York School of Art in the first decade of the 20th century. Among his teachers was Frank Alvah Parsons, who became president of the school in 1908. Parsons’ influence was so great that after he died in 1930 everyone just started calling the school “Parsons.” It seems to have stuck.

part of Roy Fleming collection

21. Furniture Sketch (1961–1964) and Corgi with Topiaries (1967–1995)
The records of professional designers sometimes harbor clues to aspects of their lives outside of work. The papers of Modernist furniture designer and Parsons School of Design visiting critic, Edward J. Wormley, include multiple photographs with prominently featured dogs. Sometimes a dog stands beside Wormley, or lies in his lap. Other times the dogs are stacked atop one another.

part of Edward J Wormley papers

22. John Cage Mushroom Identification Course (Summer 1960)

John Cage, pioneer of indeterminacy in music, taught Experimental Composition and other classes at The New School from 1956–1959. One of his classes, though, was about mushrooms, not music. An amateur mycologist, Cage told the New York Times that hunting mushrooms “sharpens the sense of vision.” He co-taught the course with naturalist Guy Nearing.

part of Clara Mayer papers and New School course catalog collection

23. Photographer Stamps (1920s-1980s)

Dozens of accomplished photographers have taken pictures for The New School over the years. Before digital photography, it was standard practice for photographers to stamp the back of their prints, efficiently communicating credit, copyright, and contact information. One of the most creatively designed stamps in the New School Archives was used by Gin Briggs, who took photos for the school in the 1950s and ’60s, while also working as a staff photographer for the Village Voice. Briggs also had a small storefront studio on Christopher Street.

part of New School photograph collection

24. Peas costume for “Vegetable Vamps Circa 1910” project (1993)

The annual Parsons School of Design fashion show in the 1980s and ’90s ended with a truly grand finale of historically-inspired costumes that students researched, designed, and created for the class, Concepts in Costume Design, taught by Parsons alumnus, fashion and costume designer, Donald Brooks. 1993’s concept, “Vegetable Vamps Circa 1910,” challenged students to create turn of the century styling inspired by vegetables.

part of Parsons School of Design Fashion Design Department records (pre-2008 accessions)

25. Construction of Addition to 66 West 12th Street Building of The New School (1950s)

Construction sites must have had different regulations in the 1950s than they do today. In this photo, workers constructing the 11th Street addition to The New School’s flagship building at 66 West 12th Street enjoy a Ballantine beer with lunch while chatting with a child. There isn’t a hard hat in sight.

part of New School photograph collection

26. She’s Your Public Health Nurse Poster and Design Sketch (1940s)

We live in a designed world, a world in which everything we encounter — right down to a nurse’s uniform — evolves from a designer’s inspiration and training. Edith d’Errecalde, design journalist and critic, taught at Parsons School of Design during the 1969–1970 academic year. Prior to that she worked for Mainbocher, where she put her hand to making public health nurse uniforms attractive enough to entice recruits.

part of Edith d’Errecalde papers

27. Occupied Office in Graduate Faculty Building and Student Rally Notes (1970)

In the spring of 1970, New School students went on strike to protest the Vietnam War. Classes were cancelled and university offices taken over by protesters. The occupation lasted two weeks, and ended with the arrest of dozens of students. The notes at right demonstrate the ambition of student protestors. They did succeed in getting remaining classes and commencement cancelled, and probably in defacing the Graduate Faculty building, but we don’t know if they managed to close the Lincoln Tunnel.

part of New School photograph collection and John Everett records

28. Press clippings 1: 1918–1935

News articles documenting the very first days and years of The New School were assembled into scrapbooks kept by the university administration. Their yellowing pages provide a record of countless events, large and small, in The New School’s 100 year history: everything from the founding of the school to the controversy that erupted when a rumor got around that members of the Junior League, a women’s civic organization, were going to be compelled to take classes at the newly opened school. Some of their members were concerned about the “socialist” leanings of the school and its faculty.

part of New School Publicity Scrapbook Collection

29. Book Cover for Options (after 1967)

Lorraine Fox (1922–1976) began her career in commercial illustration in the 1940s. She went on to become one of the most celebrated female illustrators of the mid-20th century. The collection, which spans the final decade of Fox’s life, includes print proofs, transparencies and tear sheets of album covers, magazine and book illustrations, greeting cards, and advertising materials, including a promotional packet for the pharmaceutical drug, Haldol. Fox taught at Parsons School of Design from 1965 until shortly before her death in 1976.

part of Lorraine Fox offprints, transparencies, and tear sheets

30. Barbecue at Old Mill, original 16mm film reel (1935)

The faculty of The New School’s University in Exile gathered at an annual autumn barbecue at the estate of philanthropist and businessman, Hiram Halle. When the Nazis came to power in 1933, it was Halle’s financing that made it possible to establish the University in Exile, enabling European scholars whose careers were derailed and lives threatened to come live and continue their teaching in the U.S.

part of Hiram Halle Home Movies of Annual Barbecue for University in Exile at His Pound Ridge Estate

31. Spinning Wrench photograph by Berenice Abbott (circa 1959)

Most of us associate New School photography instructor Berenice Abbott with iconic images of New York City, but she wasn’t just a street photographer. Abbott’s photograph of a wrench spinning through space was part of a series demonstrating scientific processes. The series constituted the in 1959 inaugural exhibition of the Sky Bridge gallery, a space connecting the New School buildings on West 12th and West 11th Streets.

part of Clara Mayer papers

32. 12th Street: A Quarterly periodical (1944–1946) and Professor Reuben Abel Leading a Seminar (photo: Bob Adelman, 1970s)

Graduate student Reuben Abel co-founded and edited the original 12th Street journal in 1943. 12th Street’s first incarnation only lasted until 1950. It was resurrected in 2008 and continues to be published online today. Reuben Abel (1911–1997) received his master’s and doctorate in Philosophy from The New School in 1943 and 1952, respectively. He taught graduate and undergraduate level philosophy courses until the mid-1990s.

part of Bob Adelman photograph collection

33. On Stage Production of Georg Kaiser’s Gas (photo: Skippy Adelman, 1946) and The Dog Beneath the Skin program with edits (1946)

The Dog Beneath the Skin was mounted by On Stage Productions, a company co-founded by Robert Ramsey while studying at the New School Dramatic Workshop. Initially based at the Cherry Lane Theatre in Greenwich Village and drawing many of its actors from the Dramatic Workshop, On Stage was devoted to avant-garde theater, staging Sartre’s No Exit and Strindberg’s Creditors, among others, before financial woes shut the company down in 1951. Ramsey went on to a prolific career as a theatrical and commercial set designer.

part of Robert L. Ramsey papers

34. Parsons School of Design Summer Session poster (1969) and Environmental Design Students with Kites (1973–1974)

In the late 1960s, Parsons was breaking away from its reputation as a training ground for designers who would serve only an upper class clientele. In the summer of 1969, students could enroll in a class called Environmental Use of Plastics and by the early 1970s Environmental Design students were regularly engaging in community-based projects around New York City, including building kites with children in city parks, conducting site studies for the redevelopment of Union Square, and working with South Bronx residents to design a neighborhood playground.

Part of Parsons School of Design poster collection (pre-2007) and Parsons School of Design slide collection

35. Invitation to the Opening of the Human Relations Center (1969) and Human Relations Work-Study Center bulletin (Fall 1972)

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. This course catalog from 1972 lists professional classes in social work, education, and community planning alongside courses such as Talking with People, Yoga: a harmony of body and mind, and Death, absurdity, and the mystery of Jesus Christ.

part of Human Relations Center records

36. Diagram of Eugene Lang College Curriculum by Faculty Member Peter Taylor (1986–1987)

In the early years of Eugene Lang College, which was The New School’s first four-year undergraduate college, the faculty worked hard to construct the First Year Program curriculum. “The ambition was connection, interdisciplinarity, the vocabulary of critique,” faculty member Ann Snitow said in an oral history interview. Snitow’s jotted notes exemplify an important function of archives — they can show an idea as it is being thought through, offering an intimate accounting of motivations and debates.

part of Mark Larrimore faculty records

37. Parsons School of Design Student in Carnival (1958)

From the 1940s-1970s, the Parsons School of Design Student Council held an annual Mardi Gras Dance. This description of the 1954 dance was printed in Parsons’ Alumni Bulletin: “Beginning with a conga line of first year students dressed as pink bunnies, in suits made by themselves from long underwear, the variety of costumes ranged from the bizarre to the fantastically beautiful.” Prizes went to the best dressed male and female students. The pink bunnies got an honorable mention.

part of Parsons School of Design Alumni Association records

38. Medialog 1, no. 1 (January 1974)

Medialog (also expressed as MediaLog and Media Log), was an “occasional” newspaper that began when the New School Graduate Media Studies program was still known as the Center for Understanding Media. The paper documents the evolving concerns of the program and the rapidly-changing developments in the wider world of video art, as well as documentary and commercial video production and broadcasting.

part of New School periodicals collection

39. Bonwit Teller Window Display Featuring Women’s Ensemble by Lanz and Artwork by Jasper Johns (photo: Virginia Roehl, 1957)

On his rise to becoming a world famous artist, Jasper Johns designed window displays, presenting his work as a commercial backdrop to sell dresses and jewelry at Bonwit Teller department store and Tiffany’s. Bonwit’s assistant display director Dan Arje also showcased the work of Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, and James Rosenquist, among others.

part of Dan Arje papers

40. Parsons School of Design Students on European Tour (circa 1940s-1950s) and Letter reminding women attending the European Summer Session not to hitchhike. (1957)

Parsons’ European Summer Session, like the rest of Parsons’ programs, was co-ed, but it seems that the prohibition on hitchhiking applied only to female attendees of the European summer tour.

part of Parsons School of Design Alumni Association records and 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.

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A university in New York City for scholarly activists, fearless artists, and convention-defying designers established in 1919. #100YearsNew