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Guide to the Francis J. Geck papers, 1923-2001

Collection Overview

Repository

Kellen Design Archives

Collection Identifier

KA.0052

Creator

Geck, Francis J., 1900-

Title

Francis J. Geck papers, 1923-2001

Extent

3.5 linear ft: 4 boxes, 2 oversize folders

Summary

Francis Geck (1900-2005) graduated from the New York School of Fine and Applied Art (later, Parsons School of Design) in 1924 and taught interior design at the school's Paris Ateliers until 1927. Following a professional career in his native Detroit, Geck became a professor of Fine Arts at University of Colorado, where he taught for 39 years. The papers contain correspondence with Parsons administrators, including Frank Alvah Parsons, design renderings and student work, publications, and course-related materials.

Preferred Citation note

[Identification of item], [date (if known)], Francis J. Geck papers, KA.0052, box __, folder __, New School Archives, The New School, New York, New York.

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Biographical Note

Francis Joseph Geck was born December 20, 1900 in Detroit, Michigan to Jacob C. and Anna Mary Angermeier Geck. In his autobiographical writings, Geck divides his life into progressive stages of professional development: a stage design period (1923-1924), a teaching period (1924-1927), a professional period (1927-1930), an academic period (1930-1969), and a retirement period (1969-2005).

Geck’s high school education was interrupted by World War I, during which he was often required to leave school to work at a family-owned grocery store. In 1922, he graduated from Cass Technical School in Detroit with a certificate in Commercial Art. During this time he also studied oil painting with John P. Wicker. Geck’s instructors at Cass encouraged him to pursue his interest in stage design at the New York School of Fine and Applied Art, which later became Parsons School of Design. During his studies, Geck excelled in his interior design courses, and Frank Alvah Parsons offered him a teaching fellowship at the school’s Paris Ateliers. After graduating in 1924, Geck remained in Paris as an instructor of Interior Architecture and Decoration. He also served as the New York School of Fine and Applied Art’s tour director and director of research classes in Italy and England.

Geck returned to Detroit in 1927 and worked as a designer for the interior decorating firm of William Wright, until the stock market crash forced its closure in 1929. While employed at William Wright, he designed the interior of the Lawrence Fisher mansion. He began teaching in the Fine Arts Department of University of Colorado at Boulder in September 1930 and would remain with that institution until his retirement in 1969. During that time, Geck received his M.F.A. from Syracuse University, published bibliographies on Italian art history, and wrote extensively on art education. In addition to reference texts, Geck developed a handheld pedagogical device called “Dial an English Furniture Style” which allows users to ascertain the provenance of period furniture.

Geck held official positions within numerous local and national arts organization, including Delta Phi Delta, a national honor art fraternity of which he was president from 1954 until 1958. In 1963, Geck received a Citation of Merit from the American Society of Interior Designs (ASID) for his work in design education.

Following his retirement, Geck returned to Michigan and prepared his teaching and lecture materials for self-publication. Geck’s wife, Evelyn Marie Sturdyvin, whom he married in 1937, died in 1981. Geck died September 12, 2005 in Roseville, Michigan, at the age of 104.

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Organization and Arrangement

  1. Biographical materials, 1998
  2. Correspondence, 1924-1971
  3. Paris Ateliers tour files, 1925-1927
  4. Printed materials and publications, 1933-2001
  5. Revision of Interior Decoration, 1955-1957
  6. Sketches and renderings, circa 1923-1937

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Kellen Design Archives - 2009

66 5th Ave./
lobby level
New York, NY, 10011
212.229.5942
archivist@newschool.edu

Preferred Citation note

[Identification of item], [date (if known)], Francis J. Geck papers, KA.0052, box __, folder __, New School Archives, 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.

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Related Materials

Related materials may be found in the New School Archives’ Parsons School of Design Alumni Association records (PC.03.02.01). These include 56 snapshots taken by Geck during his teaching career with the New York School of Fine and Applied Art’s Paris Ateliers, donated by Geck to the Alumni Association. The Alumni Association records also contain a biographical file on Geck.

Measured drawings created by students at the Paris Ateliers may be found in the Parsons School of Design academic departments, programs and schools collection (pre-2009 accessions) (PC.02.01.01), Parsons Paris series, Student work subseries. These items include original drawings reproduced in Geck's publications. Materials stored offsite.

Francis J. Geck's bibliographies of Italian art may be found in the New School Libraries.

The University of Colorado at Boulder holds a related collection of materials documenting Francis J. Geck’s teaching career and that of Evelyn Marie Sturdyvin Geck, his wife. From A Guide to Manuscript Collections, Seventh Edition, 2008. University of Colorado at Boulder, University Libraries, Archives. Accessed July 17, 2009 at http://ucblibraries.colorado.edu/archives/guides/manuscript2008.pdf

Materials relating to Francis J. Geck's involvement in Boulder-based civic and cultural organizations are held by the Boulder Public Library's Carnegie Branch Library for Public History.

Furniture and architectural renderings created by Francis J. Geck during his professional career are held by the Detroit Historical Society.

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Keywords for Searching Related Subjects

Corporate Name(s)

  • New York School of Fine and Applied Art.
  • Paris Ateliers. Interior Architecture and Decoration Dept.
  • Paris Ateliers. Italian School.

Genre(s)

  • Correspondence.
  • Maps.
  • Measured drawings.
  • Publications.
  • Renderings.
  • Sketches.
  • Student projects.

Personal Name(s)

  • Parsons, Frank Alvah, 1868-1930

Subject(s)

  • Costume design.
  • Interior decoration -- Study and teaching -- France -- 20th century.
  • Interior decoration -- Study and teaching -- New York (State) -- New York -- 20th century.

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Other Finding Aids note

For selected item-level description and images from the Francis J. Geck papers, see The New School Archives Digital Collections at http://digitalarchives.library.newschool.edu/index.php/Detail/collections/KA0052.

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Collection Inventory

Box Folder

Series I. Biographical materials 1991 

1 1

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Series II. Correspondence 1924-1971 

Link to selected images from this series.  

Correspondence primarily contains letters Geck received during and immediately following his employment as an instructor and tour director for the New York School of Fine and Applied Art. Geck's primary correspondents were school administrators in Paris and New York, including Frank Alvah Parsons. Also included in this series are faculty memoranda, some by Parsons, with Geck’s notations. These records provide documentation of Parsons' pedagogical philosophies and his governance of the New York School of Fine and Applied Art.

Box Folder
General 
1 2
New York School of Fine and Applied Art faculty memoranda 
1 3
Paris Ateliers 
1 4
Frank Alvah Parsons 
1 5
Parsons School of Design Alumni Association 
1 6

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Series III. Paris Ateliers tour files 1925-1927 

Link to selected images from this series.  

Tour files include materials Geck used in planning his research tours for New York School of Fine and Applied Art students. Files contain class rosters, correspondence with tour guides and hoteliers, lecture notes, itineraries, expense records, teaching plans, and ephemera - such as railway schedules, maps, and brochures. Arrangement is alphabetical by location.

Box Folder
English School 
1 7
France 
1 8
France: Photograph and ephemera 
1 9
Italian School 
1 10-11

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Series IV. Printed materials and publications 1933-2001 

Primarily consists of self-published books documenting Geck's work in a number of art and design disciplines. The books include reproductions of renderings with prefatory notes explaining the context in which they were created. Renderings created during Geck’s studies and instructorship at the New York School of Fine and Applied Art will be found in the Sketches and Renderings series, while renderings executed during earlier and later periods have been donated to other archival repositories (SEE Related collections note). In addition to Geck's own renderings, this series includes four books containing reproductions of measured drawings by his students. Arrangement is alphabetical by publication title.

Box Folder
Anne Was His Name   [book jacket only]
1 12
Architectural Designs by Francis J. Geck 
1 13
Costume Designs of Francis J. Geck 
1 14
Dynamic Symmetry 
1 15
Fisher Offices Body by Fisher and Related Areas in the Fisher Building Detroit, MI 
1 16
Frank Alvah Parsons booklets 
1 17
French Interiors 18th Century Measured and Drawn by Students of the New York School of Fine and Applied Art 1925-1926   Contains two publications.
1 18
French Interiors 1985-1996 
French Interiors and Furniture: The Gothic Period 
1 19
French Interiors and Furniture: The Period of Henry II 
1 20
French Interiors and Furniture: The Period of Henry IV 
1 21
French Interiors and Furniture: The Period of Louis XIII 
1 22
French Interiors and Furniture: The Period of Louis XIV 
2 1
French Interiors and Furniture: The Regency Period 
2 2
French Interiors and Furniture: The Period of Louis XV 
2 3
French Interiors and Furniture: The Period of Louis XVI 
2 4
Furniture Designs of Francis J. Geck 
2 5
Furniture Designs for the Lawrence P. Fisher Residence Now the Bhaktivedanta Cultural Cente
2 6
Interior Design and Decoration: An Outline 
2 7
Interior Design and Decoration: An Outline 
2 8
Interior Designs by Francis J. Geck 
2 9
Italian Interiors 16th to 19th Century Measured and Drawn by Students of the New York School of Fine and Appled Art Florence 1925-1926 
2 10
Museum Exhibits by Francis J. Geck 
2 11
Our Inherited ABCs from France: A Sampling 
3 1
Paintings by Francis J. Geck 
3 2
Stage Designs of Francis J. Geck 
3 3
Yacht Interiors and Furniture for Walter G. Briggs Cambriona and Frederick J. Fisher Nakhoda 
3 4

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Box Folder

Series V. Revision of Interior Decoration: Its Principles and Practice 

Includes correspondence from Parsons President Pierre Bedard soliciting Geck's editorial assistance and drafts of Geck's work on an updated edition of Frank Alvah Parsons' book of the same title. It is unclear if this revision was ever published.

3 5

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Series VI. Sketches and renderings circa 1923-1937 

Link to selected images from this series.  

Consists primarily of work Geck created during his studies at the New York School of Fine and Applied Art and renderings from his years as an instructor for the school. Life drawing sketches appear to have been completed for a class Geck took during the spring 1923 semester, possibly under the instruction of Harry Baker. Watercolor renderings include costumes, furniture, textiles, interiors, and stage designs. Some renderings indicate Geck based them on items he saw at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Natural History in New York, while others were created at historical sites he visited with students in Europe. Seven sketchbooks, organized geographically and then chronologically by Geck, contain measured drawings of interiors in England, France, and Italy. One oversize folder contains large pen and ink renderings of identified French and Italian interiors as well as two hand-drawn maps of Italy executed while Geck was teaching at University of Colorado at Boulder. Arrangement is alphabetical.

Box Folder
Life drawing sketches 
3 6
Measured drawing sketchbooks, 1924-1926, undated 
English Interiors 
4 1
Paris 
4 2-4
Italian Research 
4 5
Italy 
4 6
Italian Research 
4 7
Pen and ink renderings 
k_OSxx-2 7
Watercolor renderings circa 1923-27, undated 
Costume and stage design 
3 7
Interior and furnishings 
3 8
Oversized 
k_OSx-2 2

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Collection Guide Last Updated: 10/25/2016

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