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Guide to the Parsons photographs, circa 1920s-2003

Collection Overview

Kellen Design Archives
Parsons the New School for Design.
Parsons photographs (pre-2008 accessions), circa 1920s-2003, (Bulk, 1970-2000)
3.2 linear ft: 1,425 photographs
Includes 1,400 photographs, contact sheets, and negatives documenting Parsons student and campus life, including exhibitions, award and fashion shows, guest lectures, field trips, and campus construction projects. An in-house inventory is available upon request.

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Scope and Contents of Collection

Collection consists of photographic materials documenting Parsons The New School for Design and its affiliate schools and programs, spanning the 1920s through the early 2000s. The bulk of the collection documents the 1970s onwards. The earliest photographic documentation in the collection is of the Paris Ateliers, which became Parsons Paris. Many of the photographic materials produced in the 1970s and onwards were generated by the New School's Communications Office.

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Organization and Arrangement

Organized in 7 series:

  1. General, circa 1940-1997
  2. Departments and programs, circa 1950s-2000s
  3. Events, 1971-1998
  4. Otis Art Institute, circa 1970s-1991
  5. Parsons Paris, circa 1920s-1990s
  6. Portraits, circa 1970s-1997
  7. Oversize, 1925-2003

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Administrative Information

Collection guide written by Bernadette Vitale.

Publication Information

Kellen Design Archives March 3, 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.

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Related Materials

Photographs documenting Parsons The New School for Design prior to 1970 will also be found in the Parsons School of Design Alumni Association records (PIC.03.002).

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Keywords for Searching Related Subjects

Corporate Name(s)

  • New York School of Fine and Applied Art.
  • Otis Art Institute of Parsons School of Design.
  • Paris Ateliers.
  • Parsons Paris.
  • Parsons School of Design.


  • Contact sheets.
  • Negatives (photographic).
  • Photographs.


  • Fashion designers.

Personal Name(s)

  • Collins, Arlene
  • Davidson, Bruce, 1933-
  • Druskis, Laima
  • Levy, David C.
  • Salem, Lee
  • Seligson, Stanley


  • Art schools -- Alumni and alumnae.
  • Art schools -- New York (State) -- New York.
  • College students -- Conduct of life.
  • Fashion shows.
  • Universities and colleges -- Departments.

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Collection Inventory

Series I. General circa 1940-1997 
Title Box Folder
Artwork for fall 1990 catalog [transparencies], circa 1990  1 1
Artwork and exhibitions, 1970s-1993  1 2
Class sessions: Students at work, circa 1993  1 3
Class sessions and facilities, circa 1940  1 4
Commencement, 1980s-1986  1 5
Exhibit: Steerage in the Ark, 1997  1 6
Facilities circa 1970s-1995 
General, 1970s-1993  1 7
Architecture: Models and renderings, 1970s-1987  1 8
Photographs by Arlene Collins, circa 1994  1 9
Student life 1990s 
General, circa 1992  1 10
Photographs by Arlene Collins, circa 1994  1 11
Photographs by Bruce Davidson, circa 1993  1 12

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Series II. Departments and programs circa 1950s-2000s 
General 1992-1993 
Title Box Folder
Activities and critiques, circa 1992  1 13
Photographs by Bruce Davidson, circa 1993  1 14-15
Title Box Folder
Architecture and Interior Design, circa 1990-1995  1 16
Title Box Folder
Communication Design, circa 1970-1993  1 17
Title Box Folder
Design Marketing, 1990s  1 18
Title Box Folder
Environmental Design, 1975-1993  1 19
Title Box Folder
Environmental Design: Meeting and award dinner, 1984  1 20
Fashion Design 1946-circa 2000 
Title Box Folder
General, 1960s-1980s  2 1
General, 1990s-2000s  2 2
Alumni spread, 1998  2 3
Annual Fashion Show 1946-2000 

Additional documentation on the annnual fashion shows will be found in the Fashion Design Department records (02.002.1), including student designs, programs, and posters. Consult the Parsons School of Design Alumni Association records (PIC.03.002) for photographic documentation of fashion shows held at Parsons between 1948 and 1968.

The proper name of the annual display of Fashion Design Department student work has changed several times since its inception. For consistency, the yearly event is designated "Annual Fashion Show" here, but it was also referred to as the "Annual Fashion Critics Awards Show" and the "Fashion Critics Awards Benefit."

The Golden Thimble Award is the name of an annual honor given to student designers by visiting critics from the fashion design industry. Critics over the years have included Claire McCardell, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, and Chester Weinberg, who received a Golden Thimble Award as a Parsons student.


1946  2 4-8

Contains student designs on models.

General  2 9-10
Contact sheets  2 11-13
Betty Ford (award recipient)  2 14-16

First Lady Betty Ford attending Parsons Annual Critics Award Show and receiving award.

Title Box Folder
1978  3 1
General  3 2-4
Golden Thimble Award winners: Design drawings  3 5
Title Box Folder
1983: Golden Thimble Award winners: Design drawings  3 6
1984: William S. Ruben (honoree)  3 7
1985: Golden Thimble Award winners and critics  3 8
General  3 9-11
Golden Thimble Award winners: Design drawings  3 12
Golden Thimble Award winners: Portraits  3 13
Ed Koch (award recipient)  3 14
Golden Thimble Award winners: General  3 15
Golden Thimble Award winners: Design drawings  3 16
Golden Thimble Award winners: Portraits  3 17
Golden Thimble Award winners: Design drawings  3 18
Golden Thimble Award winners: Portraits  3 19
General  3 20
Golden Thimble Award winners: Design drawings  3 21
Golden Thimble Award winners: Portraits  3 22
Lena Horne (honoree)  3 23
Golden Thimble Award winners: Design drawings  4 1
Golden Thimble Award winners: Portraits and show co-chairs  4 2

Includes portraits of Anna Wintour and Ellin Saltzman.

Golden Thimble Award winners: Design drawings  4 3
Golden Thimble Award winners: Portraits and show co-chairs  4 4

Includes portraits of Jerome Chazen and Arnold Aconson.

General  4 5
Golden Thimble Award winners: Portraits and show co-chairs  4 6

Includes portraits of Josephine Chaus and Allen Questrom.

Title Box Folder
1993  4 7-9

Includes contact sheets depicting models dressed in garments inspired by vegetables.

1995-1999  4 10

Includes Golden Thimble winner portraits and candids of critics.

circa 2000  4 11-12

Contains negatives and contact sheets.

2000  4 13-14

Gift of Shelley Johnson.

Critics (guest lecturers) circa 1950s-1990s 

Until 2001, the Fashion Design Department partnered established designers with students to create collections based upon the designers' styles. Many of the designer critics were themselves Parsons alumni. Images of designer critics are arranged alphabetically and include: Geoffrey Beene, Albert Capraro, Oscar de la Renta, Louis Dell'Olio, Georgio di Sant'Angelo, Perry Ellis, Ellie Fishman, James Galanos, Rudi Gernreich, Marc Jacobs, Donna Karan, Izabel Lam, Ralph Lauren, Claire McCardell, Isaac Mizrahi, Gloria Sachs, Willi Smith, Michaele Vollbracht, Ilie Wacs, and Chester Weinberg. For examples of critic/student pairings from the 1940s and 1950s, consult the Parsons School of Design Alumni Association records (PIC.03.002).

Additional visual documentation of critics sessions will be found in the Fashion Design Department records (PIC.02.002.1).

Multiple and unidentified, 1980s-1995  5 1
A-D, 1960s-1990s  5 2
E-L, 1960s-1990s  5 3
M-N, 1950s-1995  5 4
R-W, 1970s-1990s  5 5
Banks, Jeffrey, 1990s  5 6
Brooks, Donald, 1980s  5 7
Karan, Donna, probably 1980  5 8
Klein, Calvin, 1980s  5 9
Norell, Norman, 1960s-1970s  5 10
Title Box Folder
J.C. Penney Fashion Show, circa 1978  5 11-13
Recycled clothing project for critic Cynthia Steffe, 1997  5 14
Student projects by Elmer Rask and Marion Stroehle Flenard, circa 1947  5 15
Window display: "Parsons School of Design Originals," circa 1974  5 16
Fine Arts circa 1970s-1998 
Title Box Folder
General, 1988-1993  6 1
MFA Painting, 1970s-1980s  6 2
MFA Sculpture, 1980s-1993  6 3
Title Box Folder
Illustration, 1988-1993  6 4
Title Box Folder
Photography, circa 1993-1995  6 5
Title Box Folder
Printmaking, 1980s  6 6
Title Box Folder
Product Design, before 1988-1998  6 7

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Series III. Events 1971-1998 

Contains images from a Babar exhibit, a Big Apple Fix-Up Home Improvement event, a Philip Morris awards ceremony, the World Image Awards, and a 50th class reunion.

Title Box Folder
circa 1971-1990s  6 8
1975-1976  6 9-11
1982-1986  6 12
1992-1998  6 13

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Series IV. Otis Art Institute circa 1970s-1991 

From 1978 until 1991, the Otis Art Institute, located in Los Angeles, was affiliated with Parsons School of Design. Its official name was the Otis Art Institute of Parsons School of Design. In 1993, the school was renamed Otis College of Art and Design. This series visually documents Otis during the period of its Parsons' affiliation.

Title Box Folder
General, 1970s-1980s  6 14
Class sessions, 1980s  6 15
Commencement 1988-1991 
1988-1989  6 16
1990: Faculty  6 17
1990: Students  6 18
1991  6 19
Title Box Folder
Facilities, circa 1950s-1989  7 1
Fashion Awards Dinner, 1980s  7 2
Fashion Awards Dinner, 1990s  7 3
MacArthur Park, 1980s  7 4
Student work, 1980s-1990s  7 5

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Series V. Parsons Paris circa 1920s-1990s 

Additional photographic records of Parsons' Parisian educational facilities will be found in the Parsons School of Design Alumni Association records (PIC.03.002).

In 1921, Frank Alvah Parsons and William M. Odom established a school facility in Paris for the study of European art and design. From the Paris Ateliers, students embarked upon research tours of France, Italy, and England. The facility, located at 9 Place des Vosges, closed in October 1939 due to World War II. During the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, Parsons offered summer sessions in Paris. Parsons School of Design at the American College in Paris was established in 1980, and, in 1995, the school's facilities in France became known as "Parsons Paris."


Title Box Folder
Classes and guest lectures, 1970s-1990s  7 6
Fashion: Shows, 1970s-1990s  7 7
Fashion: Student work, 1970s-1990s  7 8
Paris sites, 1970s-1990s  7 9
Students and courtyard, 1920s-1930s  7 10
Tours: France and Spain, 1920s-1930s  7 11
Tours: Italy, 1920s-1930s  7 12
Tours: Italy, 1936-1938  7 13

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Series VI. Portraits circa 1970s-1997 

Portraits of Ruth Schwartz, Helen Galland, George S. Kaufman, Gordon Franklin, Lenita Airisto, David Levy, Sophie and Adam Gimbel, Walter Herdeg, Bea Banu, Charles S. Olton, Ray Hooper, Joan F. Falk, Simon Carr, Steve Adams, Mia Solow, H. Cliff Ivester, Melanie Kahane, Kitty Carlisle Hart, Ming Cho Lee, Leo Steinberg, Bill Baird, Louise Bourgeois, Arthur Danto, Paul J. Smith, August Heckscher, Jacob Lawrence, Vincent J. Scully Jr., and John Szarkowski.

Title Box Folder
General, 1970s-1990s  7 14-15
Administrators and instructors, 1960s-1990s  8 1
Alumni, 1960s-1990s  8 2
Honorary degree recipients, 1986-1988  8 3
Honorees, 1980s  8 4

Portraits of Marvin S. Traub, Ira Neimark, and Burt Tansky.

Levy, David, 1970s-1980s  8 5-6

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Series VII. Oversize 1925-2003 
Title Box Folder
66 Fifth Avenue: Mills College of Education (building occupant prior to Parsons), 1925-1950s   9 photographs p_OSx-3 3
Salvatore Cianci '58 adjusts a garment he created for the senior runway show on classmate Stephanie Bradshaw '58, his model, 1958  p_OSx-3 12
Parsons Table, before 1999  p_OSx-3 4

Photograph by George Chinsee.

Twenty celebrated alumni, 2003  p_OSxx-1 6

This photograph was taken at a gathering of celebrated alumni at the W Hotel, Union Square, New York in May 2003. The photo appeared along with interviews and other photographs of the alumni in the Winter/Spring 2004 issue of RE:D, the Parsons' alumni magazine.

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Collection guide Last Updated: 08/30/2012

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