+ Expand all text to enable full keyword searching

Guide to the Stanley Barrows papers, circa 1934-1993

Collection Overview


Kellen Design Archives

Collection Identifier



Barrows, Stanley, 1914-1995


Stanley Barrows papers, circa 1934-1993


1.8 linear ft: 3 boxes, 3 oversize folders


Stanley Barrows (1914-1995) graduated from Parsons School of Design in 1940 and taught interior design at the school for over twenty years, becoming mentor to several generations of notable designers. The collection includes examples of student work compiled by Barrows, course outlines, class travel itineraries, reference photographs of Italian decorative styles, biographical material, and correspondence from Barrows related to his activities as a designer and teacher.

Preferred Citation note

[Identification of item], [date (if known)], Stanley Barrows papers, KA.0002, box __, folder __, New School Archives and Special Collections, The New School, New York, New York.

Return to Top »

Biographical note

Interior design educator Stanley Barrows was born in Texas in 1914. He graduated with a BA from Washington and Lee University in Virginia and the New York School of Fine and Applied Art (later, Parsons The New School for Design) in 1940. Barrows was studying art history abroad when World War II began. He later reminisced that he was the last student to leave the school's Paris Ateliers in 1939 after all Parsons students and faculty were ordered to return home. Following graduation, Barrows briefly worked for designer and fellow Parsons alumnus Joseph B. Platt designing window displays (Platt would later achieve fame as a Hollywood set designer). However, his career with Platt was curtailed when Barrows was drafted into military service. He served as a photoreconnaissance officer during World War II.

Van Day Truex, President of Parsons School of Design, offered Barrows a teaching position after the war ended. His career at Parsons would span from 1946 until 1968. Barrows’ specialty was the history of interior design and decoration with an emphasis on the 17th and 18th centuries. Among his numerous students throughout the years were Tom Britt, Mario Buatta, Angelo Donghia, and Albert Hadley.

Beginning in 1952, Barrows coordinated guided tours of Europe for students, enabling them to see and sketch firsthand the rooms and furniture they had studied in the classroom. In doing so, he was continuing a Parsons tradition initiated in the 1920s by Frank Alvah Parsons and William M. Odom. Barrows was often able to secure student access to private homes and governmental offices in England, France, Germany, and Italy. In addition to his popular European tours, Barrows also led instructional visits to historic homes in the United States. “The Professor,” as he was fondly nicknamed, also educated the public on design history through interpretive articles and lectures. Barrows was often invited by the New York Times and other publications to comment on design trends and their place in the history of interior decoration.

Barrows left Parsons School of Design in 1968 to teach at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). In later interviews, Barrows expressed dissatisfaction over what he perceived to be Parsons’ rejection of traditional Beaux-Arts educational ideals. At FIT, he acted as chair of Interior Design from 1979 until his retirement in 1985. However, he never entirely severed his relationship with Parsons, and in 1993 accepted an honorary doctorate in fine arts from the school.

Barrows was a member of the American Institute of Interior Designers and the National Society of Interior Designers. In 1977, he received the Elsie de Wolfe Award from the New York Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers (A.S.I.D.) and was named an Honorary Fellow by the national organization in 1984.

Stanley Barrows died on January 31, 1995 in Naples, Florida.


Return to Top »

Scope and content note

The Stanley Barrows papers include clip books, clippings, correspondence, interior design renderings (original works and reproductions), ephemera, printed materials, and teaching materials documenting Barrows' employment (1946-1968) with Parsons School of Design. The papers also document his role as a public lecturer well into his retirement. The Stanley Barrows papers are of a primarily professional nature and contain no personal materials aside from an inventory of family friends. They contain no documentation of Barrows' design career with Joseph B. Platt, his military work, or his employment with the Fashion Institute of Technology.

The first series, General, contains materials produced, received, and collected by Stanley Barrows as a lecturer (outside of Parsons) and interior design authority. Documentation is also included in this series when it is unclear whether it was created as a result of activities associated with Parsons. Correspondence is of a collegial nature. There is no family correspondence, nor do the Barrows papers contain any personal photographs. The sole exception is a hand-written, annotated inventory of families and individuals known by Barrows during early stages of his life. The inventory is complemented by a hand-drawn map of the Barrows' neighborhood in Lexington, Virginia.

The Parsons School of Design series consists of documentation covering Barrows' teaching and lecturing career at Parsons. This series also contains materials resulting from activities associated with Parsons School of Design that pre-date Barrows' employment.

The General subseries contains materials produced or received by Barrows in his role as a Parsons instructor. An administrative folder includes class lists, a teaching schedule, and notecards with student names and addresses. The Ephemera folder contains a school-sponsored dance program from 1949, a calendar and card from the Graphics Department, and a student-published broadside referencing Barrows' summer tour. There is little documentation of Barrows' pedagogical methods, lecture notes, or assignments.

The European summer session subseries contains materials created or received by Stanley Barrows in the course of planning and conducting annual summer tours of Europe for students. Materials include student rosters, schedules and itineraries, correspondence from host sites and travel agents, and miscellaneous ephemera, such as museum entrance tickets, hotel bills, and a boat passenger list. Also included is a student notebook kept by Reagan James Caraway, Jr., of Texas, who later became an interior designer.

The Interior design renderings subseries primarily contains reproductions of student-created renderings, some of which are now in private collections. Also included are four original watercolor renderings by Parsons students, two of which were published in The Illustrated Room: 20th Century Interior Design Rendering by Vilma Barr and Dani Antman (McGraw-Hill: New York, 1997). Three folders (66 items total) of black and white reproductions depict renderings dating from 1924 through 1956.

The Research clipbooks subseries contains five disbound research books comprised of clippings, black and white photographs, and postcards. Collectively, the clipbooks provide a sense of traditional Beaux-Arts educational requirements in the early 20th century. The primary theme of the books is Italian furniture, decorative objects, and architectural motifs. Images are captioned and identified by location or period. Some photographs depict students engaged in measuring, drawing, and sketching activities. It is unclear whether Barrows created these books during his studies, or whether they pre-date him.


Return to Top »

Organization and arrangement

Arranged in 2 series:

  1. General, 1952-1993
  2. Parsons School of Design, circa 1934-1969

Return to Top »

Administrative Information

Publication Information

Kellen Design Archives - 2009

66 5th Ave./
lobby level
New York, NY, 10011

Preferred Citation note

[Identification of item], [date (if known)], Stanley Barrows papers, KA.0002, box __, folder __, New School Archives and Special Collections, The New School, New York, New York.

Conditions Governing Access note

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.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Donated by Susanna Barrows, Stanley Barrows' niece, 1997.

Return to Top »

Related Materials

Related materials in the New School Archives include an oral history project conducted in 1994 by Martica Sawin consisting of two interviews with Stanley Barrows. The recording is part of the Parsons School of Design oral history program (PC.07.01.02).


Return to Top »

Separated Materials

Twelve sketchbooks created by Parsons faculty member Marjorie Knight were included with the donation of the Stanley Barrows papers. These materials now form the Marjorie Knight sketchbook collection (KA.0028).

A photograph and two renderings by Bruce Buttfield were transferred to the Bruce Buttfield renderings and photographs collection (KA.0007).

A copy of Art: Its Principles and Practice as Applied to Modern Life by Frank Alvah Parsons was transferred to the Frank Alvah Parsons lectures on art and prints of period rooms collection (KA.0037).

Two volumes entitled "Italian Interiors, 16th-19th Century Measured and Drawn by Students of the New York School of Fine and Applied Art, Paris" dated 1927 and 1929 were transferred to the Parsons Institutional Collections (PIC) Academic departments, programs and schools (accessions pre-2008) record group, Parsons Paris Series.


Return to Top »

Keywords for Searching Related Subjects

Corporate Name(s)

  • Parsons Paris.
  • Parsons School of Design. Interior Design Department.


  • Clip books.
  • Clippings (information artifacts).
  • Renderings.
  • Student projects.

Personal Name(s)

  • Odom, William Macdougal, 1884-1942


  • Art -- Study and teaching -- France -- Paris.
  • Europe -- Description and travel.
  • Interior decoration -- Study and teaching -- New York (State) -- New York -- 20th century.

Return to Top »

Other Finding Aids note

For selected item-level description and images from the Stanley Barrows papers, see The New School Archives Digital Collections at http://digitalarchives.library.newschool.edu/index.php/Detail/collections/KA0002.

Return to Top »

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements note

Due to their fragile condition, clip books should be handled with care. Paper is extremely brittle.

Return to Top »

Collection Inventory

Series I. General 1950-1993 

Box Folder
Clippings, circa 1952-1986 
1 1-2
k_6 8
k_OSxx-3 2
Correspondence, 1969-1993, undated 
1 3
Figure sketches [by Stanley Barrows?], undated 
k_6 6
Inventory of personalities, undated 
1 4
Lecture advertisements, 1979-1991, undated 
1 5
Lecture notes and lists, 1950, undated 
1 6-7
Photographic portrait, undated 
1 8

Return to Top »

Series II. Parsons School of Design circa 1934-1969 

Box Folder

General 1949-1969, undated 

Box Folder
Administrative, 1951-1966 
1 9
Ephemera, 1949-1967, undated 
1 10
Lecture series mailings, 1968-1969 
1 11
Photograph [preservation copy] of William M. Odom's salon with annotations 
k_6 16

European summer session 1950-1965, undated 

Box Folder
Notebook kept by Reagan James Caraway, Jr., 1963 

Caraway graduated from Parsons School of Design in 1964. Following graduation, he was employed in Sanger-Harris (Dallas, Texas) department store's Interior Decorating Studio and later established his own firm.

1 12
Travel: General, 1950-1965, undated 
1 13
Travel: France and England, 1958-1962, undated 
1 14

Interior design student renderings circa 1951-1954, undated 

Box Folder
Black and white reproductions, 1920s-1950s 

Conflicting dates found with materials in file.

1 15-17
Color reproductions 
k_OSxx-3 2
Watercolor renderings 
k_6 7

Research clip books circa 1934, undated 

Box Folder
Furniture: European 
2 1
Furniture: Italian 
2 2
Italian research: General (loosely organized by location) 
3 1
Italian research: Organized by period 
3 2-3

Return to Top »

Collection Guide Last Updated: 10/07/2016

Creative Commons License This collection guide is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.