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Guide to the Violet Holsinger Mueller papers, 1926-2010

Collection Overview

Repository

Kellen Design Archives

Collection Identifier

KA.0129.01

Creator

Mueller, Violet Hubbard Holsinger, 1907-2003

Title

Violet Holsinger Mueller papers, 1926-2010

Extent

2.3 linear ft: 2 boxes, 1 oversize box, 1 oversize folder

Language of Materials note

English

Summary

Violet Holsinger Mueller (1907-2003) studied fashion design at the New York School of Fine and Applied Art (later, Parsons School of Design) from 1926 through 1929. She worked as an interior designer for the St. Louis-based department store, Stix, Baer & Fuller for over two decades, and also established her own design consultancy in Belleville, Illinois. Her papers include personal materials, as well as documentation created over the course of her education at Parsons and her professional career. Student work includes a number of assignments demonstrating the principles of Dynamic Symmetry in design education.

Preferred Citation note

[Identification of item], [date (if known)], Violet Holsinger Mueller papers, KA.0129.01, box __, folder __, New School Archives and Special Collections, The New School, New York, New York.

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Biographical Note

Violet Hubbard Holsinger Mueller (known as "Vi") was born March 16, 1907 in Belleville, Illinois. She attended McKendree College (University of Illinois) in Lebanon, Illinois from 1924 until 1926, and there met her future husband, Harry E. Mueller, a music teacher and graduate student. In September 1926, inspired by advertisements in Vogue magazine, she moved to New York to study fashion design at the New York School of Fine and Applied Art, which later became Parsons School of Design. She attended Parsons for two years, and was offered a scholarship to study at its Paris Ateliers for her third and final year. Her family's finances, like many others in 1929, required that she abandon her studies, and she returned home to Illinois, where she became a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse and assisted her mother with local economic relief efforts. She married Harry on August 14, 1932, and gave up her full-time teaching career.

After marrying, Mueller worked occasionally as a substitute teacher and librarian, but her design career did not take off until 1952, when she began working as an interior decorator for Stix, Baer & Fuller, a department store in St. Louis, Missouri. She remained at the store until 1977. Vi's clients were primarily in the St. Louis area, including parts of Illinois bordering on Missouri. A member of the American Society of Interior Designers, Mueller decorated over forty-five churches, as well as the Jerseyville, Illinois public library. Her interior decoration work connected with the renovation of Grace United Methodist Church in Salem, Illinois was a project of which Mueller was particularly proud.

In 1976, Mary Miller, who had first worked as a draughtswoman for Mueller in 1973, joined Vi Mueller as an associate, a position she held until Mueller's death in 2003 in Belleville, Illinois. Vi Mueller and Mary Miller were the two designers behind the firm Consultants in Color and Design.

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Scope and Content of Collection

The Violet Holsinger Mueller papers are divided into three series, based on different areas of her life. Researchers should be aware that, as with many designers, personal life and professional activities often intersect.

Personal materials include biographical essays, correspondence, photographs and a photograph album, and ephemera. Mueller was proud of her family history, and engaged in genealogical research for the benefit of her nieces and nephews. Her family owned the Winkle Terra Cotta Company, and two folders in the collection document the now-closed St. Louis business.

Professional work includes clippings, correspondence, project and publicity files, and ephemera. Mueller's experience decorating churches is amply documented. She was a devout Christian, and her faith is often referenced in correspondence with clergymen and their wives. The redecoration of Grace United Methodist Church of Salem, Illinois is comprehensive, with an essay by Mueller explaining her design process. Additionally, correspondence between Mueller, her colleagues at Stix, Baer & Fuller and the department store's clients provides a sense of her professional activity and the geographic range of her travels over a period of two decades. Of potential interest to researchers investigating sustainable design are two albums documenting Consultants in Color and Design projects using recycled textiles. Mueller repurposed men's neckware to decorate the Jerseyville, Illinois public library, and, with Mary Miller, created a line of decorative wall hangings incorporating antique fabrics.

Mueller's student work includes a course catalog for the Paris Ateliers (she was awarded a scholarship to study in Paris, but was unable to go), her student notebook, and a portfolio of fashion design assignments. Timed sketches--possibly created during a Costume I course--are plentiful, as is the use of Dynamic Symmetry in the designing of fashions, textile patterns, and the drawing of animals. One set of drawings depicting flappers documents a fashion illustration assignment, while another set of drawings depicts the Dennisen Dancers performing at Carnegie Hall in 1927. Other assignments include still lifes, Native American textile research at the American Museum of Natural History, and notes from lectures by Frank Alvah Parsons.

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Organization and Arrangement

Organized in 3 series:

  1. Personal, 1929-2004
  2. Professional work, 1954-2010
  3. Student work, 1926-1929

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Kellen Design Archives - August 11, 2016

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

Preferred Citation note

[Identification of item], [date (if known)], Violet Holsinger Mueller papers, KA.0129.01, box __, folder __, New School Archives and Special Collections, The New School, New York, New York.

Access Restrictions

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

Donated by Mary Miller, Violet Mueller's business associate, in 2013.

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Related Materials

For a comparative example of student fashion design work created contemporaneously to Mueller's, researchers may consult the Margaret Susan Daniell papers (KA.0127) in the New School Archives.

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Keywords for Searching Related Subjects

Corporate Name(s)

  • Grace United Methodist Church (Salem, Illinois).
  • New York School of Fine and Applied Art.
  • Stix, Baer & Fuller Company.

Genre(s)

  • Biographies.
  • Clippings (information artifacts).
  • Correspondence.
  • Notebooks.
  • Photographs.
  • Student projects.

Subject(s)

  • Churches -- Illinois.
  • Fashion design -- Study and teaching -- New York (State) -- New York -- 20th century.
  • Interior decoration.
  • Interior decorators.
  • Textile design -- United States -- 20th century.

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Collection Inventory

Series I. Personal 1929-2004 

Box Folder
Album for fiftieth wedding anniversary, 1982 

Includes program and labeled photographs. The celebration included a display of historical costumes, quilts, and handmade rugs belonging to the Holsinger and Mueller families, which are depicted in the photographs.

3 5-6
Biographical essays and clippings, 1932-circa 2004 
1 1
Camp Montebello, 1929 
1 2
Correspondence, 1964-2002 
1 3
Lifetime Achievement Award from Parsons School of Design, 2003 
1 4
Photographs, 1959-1999 
1 5
Pleating for skirt [correspondence and drawing], 1978 
1 6
Winkle Terra Cotta Company, 1985-2000 
1 7-8

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Series II. Professional work 1954-2010 

Box Folder
General, 1960s-1990s 
1 9
Chapels for the World's Fair, possibly 1960s 
1 10
Churches album, undated 
1 11-14
Clippings, 1961-2005 
1 15
3 4
Consultants in Color and Design 
C. J. Heck home and wedding, 1972 

The wedding documented in this file occurred at the Grace United Methodist Church decorated by Mueller.

1 16-17
Jerseyville Public Library, 1987-2001, 2010 
1 18
Quilting for sofa [design specifications], 1998 
2 1
Wall hangings album, 1985-2002 
2 2
Grace United Methodist Church, 1971-2000 
2 3-6
MC C 1 6
Stix, Baer & Fuller, 1954-1974 
2 7-10

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Series III. Student work 1926-1929 

Box Folder
Course catalog for Paris Ateliers, 1926 
2 11
Notebook, between 1926 and 1929 

The inside cover of the three-ring notebook featured the following identification: Violet Holsinger, 321 Union Avenue, Mt. Vernon, New York/New York School of Fine & Applied Art, 2239 Broadway, New York City.

2 12-19
Portfolio, between 1926 and 1929 

Portfolio contents include timed pencil and ink sketches of models, advertising and fashion illustrations, pattern designs, and detailed, numbered drawings of fashion plates.

3 1-3
OSx-1 1-7

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Collection Guide Last Updated: 02/28/2017

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