William Merritt Chase established Parsons School of Design in 1896 as the Chase School of Art. The name of the school changed to the New York School of Art in 1902, and to the New York School of Fine and Applied Art in 1909. This charter documents the 1909 name change. In 1940, the school was renamed Parsons School of Design in honor of former President Frank Alvah Parsons and to differentiate it from other, similarly named institutions.
New York School of Fine and Applied Art provisional charter, 1909, PC.01.01.03, box p_OSx-1, folder 9, New School Archives and Special Collections, The New School, New York, New York.
Scope and Content:
This provisional charter issued by the Regents of the University of the State of New York is dated October 28, 1909. It bears two signatures, one by the commissioner of education and one by the vice chancellor, and is accompanied by the New York State seal. The University of the State of New York is the policy-making and enforcing government body responsible for the accreditation of educational instititions, including institutions of higher education, in New York State.
The New York School of Fine and Applied Art trustees named in the document are William Lester Wemple, Frank Alvah Parsons, Susan F. Bissell, and Kenneth Hayes Miller. Language in the text of the charter indicates that the charter will cease to be provisionally granted in five years should the school meet the standards of the University of the State of New York, at which time the charter will become what is known as an "absolute charter." The absolute charter for the New York School of Fine and Applied Art is not part of The New School Archives holdings.
The document bears numerous crease marks, indicating that it was folded at one time.
Biographical / Historical:
American artist William Merritt Chase established Parsons School of Design in 1896 as the Chase School of Art. While founded as a school of fine arts instruction, it soon added courses in applied arts, which became the primary focus under the administration of Frank Alvah Parsons (1908-1930). The name of the school changed several times, to the New York School of Art in 1902, then to the New York School of Fine and Applied Art in 1909. In 1909, the school was located at 2237 Broadway, in New York City's Upper West Side. In 1940, the Board of Trustees voted to change the school's name to Parsons School of Design in recognition of Frank Alvah Parsons's leadership and to differentiate it from other, similarly named institutions.
In 1921, Parsons School of Design's European School opened with headquarters in France called the Paris Ateliers. The Ateliers closed in 1939 due to the escalation of World War II, and never reopened in its pre-war form. Summer study tours of Europe resumed in the late 1940s. When Parsons School of Design affiliated with the New School for Social Research in 1970, students could for the first time earn a bachelor of fine arts degree from The New School. Before the merger, students earned either a certificate for a three-year program of study at Parsons, or a bachelor of science degree granted by New York University by taking courses at both schools.
Prior to 1970, when Parsons existed as an independent entity, it was headed by a president and a powerful Board of Trustees. Upon the merger of Parsons with The New School, legal authority transferred to a central Board of Trustees for The New School. The Parsons board became a Board of Overseers (later Visiting Committee and, as of 2017, Board of Governors). The position of Parsons president was also eliminated at the time of the merger, replaced by the dean, a position later renamed as executive dean.
The immediate source of acquisition and the provenance of this document are unknown. No accession records exist.
Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Other early documentation concerning the New York School of Fine and Applied Art's accreditation with New York State will be found in the Parsons School of Design governance collection (PC.01.01.01), Accreditation reports series. These reports were supplied to the University of the State of New York as supporting documentation for the provisional charter to be changed to an absolute charter and, later, to maintain accreditation status.
Later charters, including the name change from New York School of Fine and Applied Art to Parsons School of Design (1941), will be found in the David C. Levy records (PC.01.04.01).