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Guide to the The New School Associates records

Collection Overview

The New School Archives and Special Collections
New School for Social Research (New York, N.Y. : 1919-1997). New School Associates.
The New School Associates records, 1944-1987, (Bulk, 1944-1964)
32 linear ft: 5 boxes
The New School Associates were the first fund raising body associated with the university. Comprised of faculty, former students (including Marlon Brando), school administration and supporters of the school's aims, the New School Associates sponsored numerous educational and social events and an annual membership drive. These records represent the administration of the Associates from the mid-1940s to approximately 1960, although some later art exhibition records will be found here as well. Files belonging to the Executive Secretary of the New School Associates, Edith Jonas Levy, constitute much of the record group.

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Historical Note

The activity of the New School Associates, an organization of faculty, alumni and supporters of the school, dates back to the earliest years of The New School. In a membership appeal (probably dating from the 1940s), Alvin Johnson, the New School president whose vision guided the school from 1922 through 1945, described the group in the following way:

"The New School Associates were the first organ of the New School. At the outset there was no Board, no Faculty, but an association of interested persons bent on founding an educational institution which should serve the needs of intelligent men and women like ourselves... We realized that in the original body of Associates we had the nucleus of a lay organization superior to any alumni group. The Associates could protect the institution against the prevalent academic maladies of inbreeding and dry rot, maladies rather aggravated than cured by alumni. We sought to enlist Associates from all walks of life. For as a lay organ the Associates could not, like college alumni limit themselves to negative functions but would have to play a constructive part in the development of the School... Only the New School Associates, who cared enough for the institution to become contributors to its support, ever exhibited continuity of interest and exerted influence on the development of the School... We live in trying times and must look forward to still more trying times, with powerful political forces seeking to regiment our thinking and speech and action. The protection of our American liberty to teach and write as truth commands lies first in our consciences but second in the sound public opinion of an active body of New School Associates."

The group sponsored programs and remained an active fund raising organ at least through the late 1950s. Material from the late 1970s and 1980s here consists of announcements and publicity for New School exhibitions, lectures, and other events. Edith Jonas Levy (Mrs. Beryl H. Levy) was the Executive Secretary of the New School Associates through the 1940s into the 1950s. Alvin Johnson was the longtime president of the Associates. The office of the president was intertwined with the Associates, and invitations to join the Associates as well as correspondence with speakers and guests of the Associates was often sent out under Alvin Johnson or Bryne Hovde's signature.

Other individuals associated with the New School Associates include:

Lova (Mrs. David) Abrahamsen (Chair, 1940s)
A. Wilfred May
Sarah (Mrs. David L.) Podell
Margaret C. (Mrs. Joseph) Renier (Membership chair)
Edith (Mrs. Otto) Sommerich (longtime member and chair, 1940s)
Ruth (Mrs. Edward L.) Stern (Chair, 1940s)
Alfred F. Thomas (Chairman of Membership Drive, 1944-1945)
Mary (Mrs. Joseph) Urban (Chair, 1940s)
Eunice Hill (Mrs. Julian) Whittlesey (Chair, 1940s)


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Scope and Content of Collection

The New School Associates records are divided into three series. The first consists of general administrative records, arranged chronologically, with isolated topical files in alphabetical order following the general chronological files. The majority of documents in this series appear to result from membership campaigns. Included are bylaws, drafts of publicity and promotional materials, memoranda between the Associates and New School administrative offices, planning documents, and lists of potential members provided by current members, faculty and friends of the New School, as well as numerous chits indicating a prospect and the prospect's sponsor. Of note is an organizational memorandum authored by New School President Bryn Hovde advising all staff of the reporting structure for the Office of Public Information. The bulk of this series covers the mid to late 1940s, with 1949 particularly well represented.

The second series documents individual events or event series sponsored by the New School Associates. Files are arranged chronologically, with type of event and event title and date. Documentation includes announcements, invitations, guest lists, seating charts, and correspondence indicating acceptances and regrets. Additional documentation may include press releases, event budgets, and correspondence between New School administrators and guests. The bulk of this series documents the years 1944 through 1949. Files created after 1949 predominantly concern art exhibitions sponsored by the New School Associates and do not include extensive event planning documentation. This series, while limited in timespan, provides a snapshot of the types of events the New School Associates sponsored and the individuals who partipated in them during the immediate post-World War Two period.

The third series consists of minutes documenting the proceedings of the Executive Council of the New School Associates. Early minutes refer to the organization as the "Executive Council of the Associate Membership of the New School." Minutes span 1948 through 1960, with calendar years mirroring the academic calendar. These minutes include reports of the various committees comprising the New School Associates, including the following committees: Activities, Art, Education, Finance, Forum, Membership, Nominating.

Much of the documentation in these records appears to have been generated by Edith Jonas Levy, the longtime Executive Secretary of the New School Associates, who held this position from at least 1949 to 1960. Other files appear to have been generated by Margaret C. (Mrs. Joseph) Renier, a Membership Committee Chair of the Associates.


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Administrative Information

Publication Information

The New School Archives and Special Collections

66 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY, 10011

Custodial History note

Files were accessioned by the Archives in multiple groups. While it cannot be verified, it is probable that the files had been formerly housed together. Some of the files, primarily those in the Events Series, were brought to the Kellen Design Archives in January 2009, and additional files, which constitute the bulk of the records, were cataloged and integrated with the files already in the Archives' custody in November 2012. The location of New School Associates records documenting eras not covered in this collection guide is unknown.

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Related Materials

A clippings scrapbook exclusively dedicated to documenting the activities of the New School Associates will be found in the New School Scrapbooks collections (NS.03.01.01).

Folders documenting the New School Associates will be found in the Office of Public Information records (NS.03.04.01), in General Administration series, Speeches series (texts of speeches given by guests of the Associates), and Weekly Bulletins series, which frequently include notices of Associates-sponsored events, as well as announcements regarding new members.


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Keywords for Searching Related Subjects


  • Correspondence.
  • Invitations.
  • Minutes.
  • Reports.

Personal Name(s)

  • Hovde, Brynjolf Jakob, 1896-1954
  • Johnson, Alvin Saunders, 1874-1971
  • Levy, Edith Jonas

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Collection Inventory

General administration 1945-1966 
Title Box Folder
Undated  1 1
1943-1944  1 2
1945-1946  1 3
1947  1 4
1948  1 5
1949  1 6-8
1950-1959  1 9
Associate membership renewals, 1945 Apr  1 10
Biographical statements and photographs, 1965-1966  1 11

Includes Rudolf Arnheim, Ralph Caplan, Robert Riley, Stanley M. Swinton, and John Weitz.

Current membership lists, 1947-1948  1 12
Public Relations-Promotions Committee meeting, 1945 Jan 10  1 13
Report to Associates from Mrs. Stern, 1948 Oct  1 14

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Title Box
Attendee card file, 1954-1964 

Typed and handwritten card files of attendees for New School Associates dinners, luncheons, etc. Includes information on guests, membership status, seating preferences, address, etc.

3-5 (card boxes)

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Event files 1944-1988 

This series documents either individual events or series of events sponsored by the New School Associates. Events predominantly consist of dinner forums, luncheons, teas at the home of New School president Bryne Hovde, and exhibitions. Events are not comprehensively documented. The fullest coverage extends from 1945 through December of 1949, when the New School celebrated Alvin Johnson's seventy-fifth birthday. Arranged chronologically.

Title Box Folder
Art Committee meeting and luncheon, 1944 Jun 11  1 15
Dinner Forum: Open Discussion on Election Issues, 1944 Oct 21  1 16
Dinner Forum: The International Outlook, 1944 Nov 27  1 17
Membership luncheon meeting, 1945 Mar 28  1 18
Dinner Forum: Threats to Inter-American Solidarity, 1945 Apr 22  1 19
Reception for Serge Soudeikine exhibition, 1945 May 10  1 20
Dinner Forum: The Implications of the British Election, 1945 Sep 25  1 21
Reception and tea for Jose Clemente Orozco, 1945 Oct 18  1 22

Includes correspondence from Orozco.

Dinner Forum: The Outlook for India, 1945 Nov 4  1 23
Dinner Forums: Round Tables for Fall, 1948  1 24
Dinner Forum: The Coming Elections: A Post-election Pre-view, 1948 Oct 15  1 25
Bryn Hovde tea, 1948 Nov 11  1 26
Bryn Hovde tea, 1948 Dec 9  1 27
Dinner Forum: Controversial Issues in Psychoanalysis, 1948 Dec 10  1 28-29
Art Committee meeting, 1949 Jan 3  1 30
Pre-lecture tea: Andrew W. Cordier, 1949 Jan 10  1 31
Tea at home of Mrs. H. Harris Jonas for art staff and Art Committee, 1949 Jan 12  1 32
Bryn Hovde tea, 1949 Jan 14  1 33
Dinner Forum: Will the Program Planning of Truman Lead Us to State Socialism?, 1949 Jan 18  1 34-35
Exhibition: 19th and 20th Century French Paintings from the Collection of Mrs. H. Harris Jonas, February 1-March 19, 1949  2 18

File contains clippings regarding the modern art dinner forum held in conjunction with the exhibition.

Bryn Hovde tea, 1949 Feb 17  1 36
Dinner Forum: Modern Art: Acclaimed or Disdained?, 1949 Feb 25  1 37
Bryn Hovde tea, 1949 Mar 17  1 38
Dinner Forum: Should We Adopt A Compulsory National Health Program? 1949 Mar 24  1 39
Luncheon Forums: Are Women Meeting the Challenges of Today?, 1949 April-May  1 40-43

Includes a luncheon with Eleanor Roosevelt on April 1.

Mrs. Ambrahamsen's tea party, 1949 May 18  2 1
Bryn Hovde tea, 1949 Oct 13  2 2
Reception for Hans Kohn, 1949 Oct 20  2 3
Dinner Forum: Can Business and Government Get Together to Maintain Prosperity?, 1949 Oct 21  2 4-5
Round Tables with Alvin Johnson, 1949 Nov-Dec  2 6
Reception: Lancelot Law Whyte, 1949 Nov 10  2 7
Dinner meeting: Committee for the Alvin Johnson Fund, 1949 Dec 5  2 8
Alvin Johnson 75th Birthday: Art exhibition, 1949 Dec  2 9
Alvin Johnson 75th Birthday: Official folder of Edith Levy, 1949 Dec 18  2 10
Alvin Johnson 75th Birthday: Program and tobacco order, 1949 Dec 18  2 11
Alvin Johnson 75th Birthday: Staff acceptances, 1949 Dec 18  2 12
Theater benefit: The Sound of Music, 1959 Dec 21  2 13
Special event: Associates' opening event, 1960 Sep 25  2 14
Luncheon Lecture Series: Molders of the Modern World, 1960 Oct-Nov  2 15
Luncheon Lecture Series: Must 40 Million Americans Be Poor?, 1964 Oct-Nov  2 16
Exhibition and event announcements, 1979-1986  2 17

File documents exhibitions for which there is no additional documentation other than a postcard or invitation.

Exhibitions 1977-1988 

In addition to postcards and invitations, files may contain photographs of artwork, press releases, artist biographies, price lists, and planning documents.

Ashby, Carl and Estelle Grey: Drawings, 1986  2 19
Blanks, Lloyd, W.: Front Gallery Series Works and Other Works in Wool Ctd. and Needlepoint, 1985, 1988  2 20
Conover, Robert: Ruins of New York, 1986  2 21
De Monte, Claudia: Recent Work: Around the World, 1985  2 22
De Monte, Claudia and Gilda Pervin: Wall Works, 1987  2 23
Deyrup, Astrith: Batik Paintings, Batick Impressions Acrylic Reflections, Recent Work: Holiday Show, 1977, 1984, 1985  2 24
Dinnerstein, Simon, Bruce Dorfman and Chaim Gross: Inaugural Exhibit of The New School Gallery, 1987  2 25
Fernandez, Benedict: An Exhibition of Photographs and Reflections of American Society, 1981, 1985  2 26
Klein, Doris: Beach Paintings, 1986  2 27
Ping-Hsing, Ku: Contemporary Paintings: New York City in Abstract, 1986  2 28
Soyer, Avron: Dreams, Visitions and Constructions: Mostly Small Works on Paper, 1985  2 29
Werner, Paul: Works on Paper, 1986  2 30

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Executive Council minutes 1948-1960 
Title Box Folder
1948-1960  2 31-44

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Collection guide Last Updated: 04/16/2014

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