+ Expand all text to enable full keyword searching

Guide to the Jessica Rummel interior decoration working files, circa 1920s-1960s

Collection Overview

Kellen Design Archives
Rummel, Jessica
Jessica Rummel interior decoration working files
3.9 linear ft: 9 boxes, 13 oversize folders
Ranging from the 1920s through the 1960s, the Jessica Rummel interior decoration working files consist of the files Rummel kept for her New York City-based interior decoration business, which operated during at least part of this period as Harding & Rummel, Inc. The files, which Rummel arranged under subjects such as "Fireplace equipment," "Quilting," "Decorative motifs," and "Egyptian," include small drawings, watercolors, site plans, and tracings of decorative elements, furniture, textiles, and interior layouts produced by Rummel in the course of doing business. The collection also includes vendor literature, magazine and catalog clippings, postcards, price lists, and business correspondence. Rummel was on the faculty of the New York School of Fine and Applied Art (later, Parsons The New School for Design) in the Interior Architecture and Decoration Department from 1921 through 1934.

Return to Top »

Biographical note

Jessica Rummel served on the faculty of the New York School of Fine and Applied Art (now, Parsons The New School for Design) in the Interior Architecture and Decoration Department from 1921-1934, spending part of the period as Associate Director and teaching in the school's Paris Ateliers. Very little information is available about Rummel or her business, which during at least a portion of Rummel's long career she operated as a partnership under the name Harding & Rummel, Inc. According to the friend of Rummel who donated her materials to the Kellen Design Archives, Rummel "sat out the Depression in New York making fancy doll houses to scale for wealthy clients and then worked until a ripe old age in high-end residential design. Everything that she did was custom and drawings were done for everything from lampshades to dressing table skirts...Miss Rummel would visit an auction preview, go back to her office and do a watercolor of an item she thought a client would like and send that to the client to interest them in the object. If interested, she would go to auction and bid on the item for them." Stencils and design drawings in the collection indicate that in addition to selecting and purchasing materials Rummel also designed custom wallpapers, textiles and furniture, taking inspiration from period and international furniture and decorative elements.

Return to Top »

Scope and Contents of Collection

The Jessica Rummel interior decoration working files consist of original tracings, sketches, rapid watercolor renderings, stencils, floor plans, and other preparatory design work produced on a wide variety of backings, including envelopes, scrap paper, the back side of vendor stationery, paper bags, and other inexpensive papers. Rummel's watercolors, while delicate and revealing her skill as a renderer, are often only partially completed, finished just enough to furnish clients with an idea of their options. These files provide fragmentary evidence of a thriving business in which Rummel traveled around the New York metropolitan area working with auction houses, antique stores, vendors and establishments specializing in a range of decorative elements and furniture. The files also include reference materials, including newspaper, magazine, auction, museum, and other catalog clippings, dealer postcards and photographs. Most of the original work is undated, while published reference materials range from the 1920s through the 1960s. Sketches, paintings, vendor literature, and other materials are often annotated with calculations, dimensions, style numbers, prices, descriptions, and comments on designs. Some files include correspondence between Rummel and clients related to purchases and design decisions. File titles and ordering by subject reflect Rummel's original titling and arrangement.

Return to Top »

Organization and Arrangement

The files are arranged alphabetically by subject.

Return to Top »

Administrative Information

Publication Information

Kellen Design Archives November 29, 2010

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

Use Restrictions

To publish images of material from this collection, permission must be obtained in writing from the Kellen Design Archives. Please contact: archivist@newschool.edu.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Donated by Willson Powell, a friend of Jessica Rummel, in 2008.

Return to Top »

Related Materials

A 1931 article written by Rummel published in Good Furniture & Decoration may be found in the Kellen Design Archives' Designer Files under "R."

Return to Top »

Keywords for Searching Related Subjects

Corporate Name(s)

  • Harding & Rummel, Inc.


  • Clippings (information artifacts).
  • Renderings.
  • Sketches.
  • Textile design drawings.


  • Decoration and ornament, Architectural -- United States -- 20th century.
  • Interior decoration rendering.
  • Interior decoration.
  • Interior decorators.
  • Women-owned business enterprises.

Return to Top »

Collection Inventory

Title Box Folder
Bars  1 1
Title Box Folder
Beds  1 2-5
k_OSxx-5 9
Bedspreads  1 6-7
Bookcases  1 8
Title Box Folder
Carpet designs  1 9-11
k_11 11
Chairs  1 12
Chests  1 13
Title Box Folder
Chinese furniture 

Encompasses furniture from Japan and other Asian countries.

1 14-15
k_11 11
Coffee tables and Chinese tables  1 16-17
Color charts and reference  1 18
Title Box Folder
Curtains  2 1-6
k_11 12
k_OSxx-5 9
Title Box Folder
Decorative motifs  2 7-8
k_11 10
k_OSxx-5 10
k_OSxxx-4 1
Desks  2 9
Dining rooms  2 10
Dining tables  2 11
Dynamic Symmetry  2 12
Title Box Folder
Early American furniture  3 1-4
k_OSxx-5 10
Early American interiors  3 5-6
Egyptian  3 7
End tables  3 8
Title Box Folder
English architecture  3 9-10
k_OSx-3 11
k_OSxxx-4 1
English furniture  4 1-5
English houses  4 6
Fireplace equipment  4 7
Title Box Folder
Fireplaces  4 8-9
k_OSx-3 11
Flowers  5 1-2
Franklin stoves  5 3
Title Box Folder
French architecture  5 4-6
k_11 11
French furniture I  5 7-8
French furniture II  5 9-10
Title Box Folder
French furniture III  5 11-13
k_11 13
Title Box Folder
French wall decorations  6 1-2
k_11 14
Title Box Folder
Furniture design and decoration  6 3-10
k_OSx-3 12
k_OSxx-5 11
Garden details  6 11-12
Garden furniture  6 13-14
Greek decorative details  6 15
Title Box Folder
Interior design and architecture  6 16-20
k_OSx-3 12
k_OSxx-5 12
Italian architecture  7 1
Italian furniture  7 2-4
Title Box Folder
Italian wall decoration  7 5-6
k_11 14
k_OSx-3 13
Ladders  7 7
Title Box Folder
Lamp shades  7 8-13
k_11 15
Title Box Folder
Lighting fixtures  8 1-3
k_OSxx-5 12
Title Box Folder
Mirrors  8 4-6
k_OSx-3 13
k_OSxxx-4 1
Modern furniture  8 7
Modern interiors  8 8
Needlepoint  8 9
Notes and sketches  8 10
Objets d'art  8 11-12
Title Box Folder
Pictures  8 13
k_11 16
Prints and tracings  9 1
Quilting  9 2
Tables  9 3
Tiles and flooring  9 4
Vendor and dealer price lists and mailers  9 5
Title Box Folder
Wall decoration, design and panels  9 6-10
k_11 17
k_OSx-3 13
Wallpapers  9 11-14

Collection guide Last Updated: 08/30/2012

Copyright © 2010 Kellen Design Archives, The New School. All rights reserved.

Archivist Toolkit at_eadToHTML stylesheet Version 1.01