Walter Scott Perry Papers
Scope and Contents
The Walter Scott Perry Papers consist of biographical information such as press clippings and chronologies, correspondence by Perry, and some of his writings and published works. The correspondence focuses on Institute matters and provides a glimpse into the Institute’s life and administration during its earliest years and even while it was still in preparation. Memos, reports, and letters give Perry’s views as an administrator and art educator, while his sketches and reminiscences of Charles Pratt and the founding of the Institute are important firsthand accounts and contain a degree of human interest that is valuable in determining Pratt’s character and motivations. His works on art education and art history are examples of Perry’s work as a historian and pedagogue. Bulk dates for this collection are 1889-1923.
- Creation: 1887 - 1934
- Creation: Majority of material found within 1889 - 1923
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open to the public.
Conditions Governing Use
For permission to publish, contact the Archivist, Pratt Institute Library.
Biographical / Historical
Walter Scott Perry, the first Director of Pratt Institute’s School of Fine and Applied Arts, was born in Massachusetts in 1855. He attended the Massachusetts Normal Art School in Boston, and was a student of Theodore Langerfeldt and Pierre Millet. He also studied in Europe, Egypt, India, China, and Japan. From 1875 until 1879 he was supervisor of drawing for the public schools of Fall River, Massachusetts, and from 1879 until 1887 served as supervisor of drawing and art education for the Worcester, Massachusetts public schools. During this period he caught attention of Charles Pratt, who around 1886 offered him the position of Director of the Art Department at Pratt Institute, which was still in the planning stage. Perry accepted, and worked closely with Pratt both before and after the Institute’s opening in 1887, advising him on numerous issues and serving as a sounding board for Pratt’s ideas. He began with only twelve students, but upon his retirement in 1928, the department had become the School of Fine and Applied Arts, with more than 1,500 students and approximately 3,500 graduates, and providing programs in such disciplines as art, architecture, interior design, teacher training, and fashion. It was Perry’s vision and views as an art educator that provided direction for the growth of the art programs at Pratt during the school’s formative years, though his views sometimes clashed with the founder’s son and successor, Frederic Bayley Pratt. In addition to his work at the Institute, Perry was active professionally. He lectured frequently on art, architecture, and sculpture, served as an associate editor at the Prang Educational Company, and wrote numerous articles and books on Egyptian art, art education in public schools, and reminiscences on Charles Pratt and the early years of the Institute. During his career Perry was an organizer of the American Federation of Arts and the National Summer School of Methods, director of the Art Alliance of America, president of the Eastern Arts Association, and a member of the Rembrandt Club, the National Arts Club, and the Western Drawing and Manual Training Association. In 1905 he was awarded an honorary Master of Arts degree from St. Lawrence University. Perry died in 1934.
Source: Art Alumni News, April 1928, page 3; Obituary, New York Times, 24 August 1934, page 16.
0.35 Linear Feet (1 box)
Language of Materials
Walter Scott Perry (1855-1934) was the first head of the Institute’s School of Fine and Applied Arts. His vision and views as an art educator provided direction for the growth of the art programs at Pratt during the school’s formative years. In addition to his work at the Institute, Perry lectured frequently on art, architecture, and sculpture, served as an associate editor at the Prang Educational Company, and wrote numerous articles and books on Egyptian art, art education in public schools, and reminiscences on Charles Pratt and the early years of the Institute. His papers consist of correspondence with Charles Pratt (founder) and others about the Institute and its development during its early years, as well as biographical materials and writings on the Institute, art history, and art education. Images exist in the Pratt Institute Archives Photograph Collection.
The records are arranged in three series, two of which have been further arranged in subseries. The series and subseries arrangement of the records is as follows:
Series 1: Biographical Information, 1927-1934
Series 2: Correspondence, 1887-1927
2.1: From Walter Scott Perry to Charles Pratt (founder), 1887-1888
2.2: From Walter Scott Perry to Frederic Bayley Pratt and the Board of Trustees, 1889-1927
2.3: Miscellaneous, 1889-1903
Series 3: Writings, 1921-1933
3.1: Pratt Institute and Charles Pratt (founder)
3.2: Art History and Art Education, 1887-1923
Harmful Language Statement
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- Guide to the Walter Scott Perry Papers
- Paul Schlotthauer
- September 2006
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