+ Expand all text to enable full keyword searching

Guide to the Frank Alvah Parsons correspondence and tribute, 1925-1930

Collection Overview

Kellen Design Archives
Kerr, James Wilfrid, 1897-1994
Creator - Recipient
Kerr, Rose Netzorg, 1892-1974
Creator - Correspondent
Parsons, Frank Alvah, 1868-1930
Frank Alvah Parsons correspondence and tribute by James Wilfrid Kerr, 1925-1930
0.1 linear ft: 1 folder
The collection contains correspondence from Frank Alvah Parsons, president of the New York School of Fine and Applied Art (later, Parsons The New School for Design), to alumni James Wilfrid Kerr and Rose Netzorg Kerr, in addition to a short manuscript written by James Wilfrid Kerr upon Parsons' death. The tribute relates Kerr's experiences as a World War One veteran studying art under Parsons' tutelage.

Return to Top »

Biographical note

Frank Alvah Parsons was born April 1, 1866 in Chesterfield, Massachusetts. In 1901, after a period of European travel, Parsons moved to New York City where he earned a degree in Art Education from Columbia University in 1905.

Parsons began teaching at the New York School of Art (later Parsons The New School for Design) during the 1904-1905 academic year. At that time, the New York School of Art was primarily an institution for instruction in the fine arts. Parsons became co-manager of the school in 1907, and in 1911, became the school's director. From then until his death in 1930, Parsons shaped the school, turning its focus permanently from the fine arts to the "applied" arts, and building it into one of the premier design schools in the country. Innovations Parsons introduced include the addition of departments for costume design, interior decoration, and commercial illustration. In addition to administering the New York School of Fine and Applied Art, Parsons continued teaching and often lectured at museums, universities, organizations, and private clubs throughout the United States and Europe. He also wrote several design books.

Frank Alvah Parsons died On May 25, 1930. The New York School of Fine and Applied Art was formally re-named Parsons School of Design in 1941.

James Wilfrid Kerr was born in New York in 1897. He studied at the Poppenhusen Institute in College Point, New York and served in the U.S. Navy from 1917 until 1919, before attending the New York School of Fine and Applied Art. He graduated in 1923 with a degree in Advertising. Kerr married Rose R. Netzorg, a fellow student, in 1922. Netzorg had served as director of the Western Michigan University's art department before attending the New York School of Fine and Applied Art.

Following graduation, the Kerrs established a publishing company specializing in art reference, and both became freelance artists. James Kerr later studied with painter Camilo Egas at the New School for Social Research in the 1930s and served as president of the American Veterans Society of Artists. The Kerrs eventually moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Rose Netzorg Kerr died in 1974 and James W. Kerr died in 1994.


Return to Top »

Scope and Contents of Collection

The collection includes typed and handwritten correspondence from Frank Alvah Parsons to James W. and Rose Netzorg Kerr. The letters, affectionate in tone, are addressed to the Kerrs individually and as a couple. Also included are two carbon copies of letters James Kerr wrote to Caroline Lanterman, secretary of the New York School of Fine and Applied Art, and to the editor of School Arts Magazine immediately following Parsons' death in 1930.

The collection also contains a typed manuscript by James W. Kerr, "Mr. Parsons and Forty Ex-Servicemen," describing a vocational training program Parsons administered for veterans of the First World War. Kerr was one of the veterans enrolled in that program.


Return to Top »

Administrative Information

Publication Information

Kellen Design Archives August 16, 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.

Custodial History note

The items in this collection were sent to David C. Levy, then dean of Parsons School of Design, in 1978, prior to the establishment of the Kellen Design Archives. They were later transferred to the Kellen Design Archives.

Return to Top »

Related Materials

The Parsons School of Design Alumni Association records (PIC.03.002.1) in the Kellen Design Archives include a file of correspondence between the Kerrs and the Alumni Association.

Return to Top »

Keywords for Searching Related Subjects

Corporate Name(s)

  • New York School of Fine and Applied Art.


  • Correspondence.
  • Manuscripts.


  • Art schools -- Alumni and alumnae.
  • Art -- Study and teaching -- New York (State) -- New York -- 20th century.
  • World War, 1914-1918 -- Veterans -- United States.

Return to Top »

Collection Inventory

Title Box Folder
Correspondence and tribute 1925-1930  k_3 3

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