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Records of the New York School of Applied Design for Women

Identifier: MC-017

Scope and Contents

The New York School of Applied Design for Women collection primarily consists of documents that were created between 1892 and 1944. Documents dating from 1945 to 1974, when the school was incorporated as the New York-Phoenix School of Design, and 1974 to 1977, when the school had become the Pratt-Phoenix School of Design, are generally promotional or involve public relations. Information regarding the Pratt-Phoenix School of Design from 1978 to 1985 can be obtained in the Pratt Institute catalogs. An extensive series of Ellen Dunlap Hopkins’ correspondence and personal documents are included in the collection, mostly concerning the school or other matters in the field of art. Since the school’s faculty consisted of professionals from various fields, there is limited information about the instructors. The collection also does not include student work, but does contain records of students and graduates. The records are primarily administrative, although there is personal correspondence in some subseries.


  • 1892 - 1985
  • Majority of material found within 1892 - 1944


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to the public.

Conditions Governing Use

For permission to publish, contact the Archivist, Pratt Institute Library.

Biographical / Historical

The New York School of Applied Design for Women (NYSADW) was established by Ellen Dunlap Hopkins in September 1892. The school represented a broader movement at the time to give women an outlet for their creative energies through practical education that would result in gainful employment. Moreover, it sought to provide women—in particular, poor women— with an affordable, practical education that would lead to self-sufficiency. From the beginning, the school was, in some capacity, associated with Columbia University and the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library. The school’s original program embraced “the application of design to wall papers, silk tapestries, needlework, chintzes, frescoes, mosaics, rugs, carpets, linoleum, metal work, glass painting, furniture, book illustrations, book covers and architectural work, with interior house decoration.” In 1893, the NYSADW displayed an exhibition of student work from the first year of courses at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, expanding enrollment from 25 to over 200 students.

The NYSADW founder, Ellen Dunlap (Fountain) Hopkins, was born in 1858 in New York City. She began her career in art as a watercolorist, painting the landscapes near her home along the Hudson River north of New York City. In 1877 she married Amos Lawrence Hopkins, but divorced in 1887. In 1892 she founded the NYSADW and was instrumental in attracting funding from social and business leaders of the time. The original incorporators of the school were Senator and Secretary of War Elihu Root, educator Sara F. Harriman, Impressionist artist J. Carroll Beckwith, and labor union organizer John W. Brown. Following the exhibition of the first years’ student work at the 1893 World Columbian Exposition, Princess Christian—daughter of Queen Victoria—invited Hopkins for a series of conferences. As a result of these meetings, Princess Christian built an addition to her Royal School of Art Needlework called the Royal School of Applied Arts for Women, modelled after the school Hopkins recently established in New York City. Hopkins continued to participate in administrative matters of the NYSADW through the Advisory Committee and as a lifetime member of the Board of Directors. In addition to her work at the NYSADW, Hopkins was on the board of the New York City Federation of Women’s Clubs, among other social clubs. In 1936, she was the first woman to be awarded the Michael Friedsam Gold Medal Award for her contribution to the field of industrial arts. In 1938 she was appointed as Officer of the Académie Française with Palms. Hopkins died on February 7, 1939.

Originally located at 200 West 23rd Street, the NYSADW began looking for a more adequate, spacious building in 1905. Between 1905 and 1909, the NYSADW raised money through the Building Fund, which attracted donations from individuals like J.P. Morgan, Adolph Lewisjohn, Elihu Root, Louise Whitfield Carnegie, Charles G. Emery, Mildred Barnes Bliss, Arabella Huntington, and William Kissam Vanderbilt II. The school was also promised a large donation from Nelson Rockefeller’s foundation that was never received, despite press publicity, because the school failed to raise enough funds within a specific time frame as stipulated in the terms of the donation. The neo-classical building, located in the Murray Hill neighborhood at 160-162 Lexington Avenue (between East 30th and 31st Streets), was designed by architect Harvey Wiley Corbett of the Pell and Corbett firm and completed in 1909. The building offered ample room for exhibitions and an extensive library collection for the use of the students. Although the new building provided the space that the school needed, enrollment slowly decreased between 1910 and 1920.

Courses at the NYSADW were taught by instructors who were working professionals in their given field. In addition to the required fundamental art courses in the Elementary Department, classes at the school were offered in several departments including silk, wall paper, architecture, interior decoration, antiques, and illustration. Also at this time, illustrator and Sons of Daniel Boone founder (which later merged with Boy Scouts of America) Daniel Carter Beard taught perhaps one of the first organized animal drawing courses in the world. The school continually added new courses and in 1910 listed special courses such as book cover designing, elementary conventionalization, and historic ornament, as well as Advanced Department courses like the application of design to manufacture of wall-paper, the application of design to the manufacture of textiles, the application of the elementary instruction to the work of an architect’s draughtsman, and the application of the elementary instruction to illustration. The school not only held exhibitions of student and other artists’ works, but also student competitions where significant individuals from the field being judged were invited to serve as jurors.

Although it is unclear who was the first president of the NYSADW, dry goods merchant William F. King served from at least 1903 to 1906. From 1906 to his death in 1909, Colonel Henry Bramble Wilson, who led an Ohio regiment in the American Civil War, held the position of the school president. In 1911, banker and Park and Tilford groceries owner Frank Tilford was elected president, which he served until between 1915 and 1917. Between 1921 and 1926, the president of the school was American naval officer and inventor Frank J. Sprague. After Sprague, artist and illustrator Leon V. Solon held the position of president from 1926 to 1937. The last president of the NYSADW was renowned architect Harvey Wiley Corbett, who had been involved with the school from its early years on. Corbett continued as president until his death in 1954.

On October 4, 1944, the NYSADW merged with the Phoenix Arts Institute, which was founded by Lauros M. Phoenix in 1925, and reincorporated as a co-educational school called the New York-Phoenix School of Design. An unpublished history of the school claims that, “This School was among the first of the art schools to give training which included the practical, business side of art in addition to a thorough grounding in art fundamentals.” At the time of the merger the school—now co-educational— had also expanded its curriculum to include courses in advertising design and illustration, magazine and book illustration, and fine arts. When the school’s president, Harvey Wiley Corbett, died in 1954, Phoenix took over the position for an unknown period of time.

In 1974, the New York-Phoenix School of Design merged, for the last time, with Pratt Institute to create the Pratt-Phoenix School of Design. The school maintained its building and continued to exhibit works in the gallery. In 1977, the building was designated a Landmark Site by the New York City Landmark Preservation Commission. The last time the Pratt-Phoenix School of Design appeared in the Pratt Institute catalog was 1984-1985, indicating that it closed in 1985. In 1991, the building was sold to Touro College and in June 2006, Touro College sold it to Lexington Landmark Properties for $8.2 million. In March 2015, it was sold again to Dover Street Market, a high-fashion outlet, for $24.5 million.

Since its founding in 1892, the school not only educated thousands of men and women who became important figures in their respective fields, but also attracted influential instructors, board of director members, and funders. The individuals who invested their time and money to the school kept the school going, and thus were proponents of the artistic education of women for vocational, rather than cultural, purposes during the early 20th century.


5.0 Linear Feet (12 boxes, 3 artifact boxes, 1 oversize folder)

Language of Materials



The New York School of Applied Design for Women was a significant educational institution and proponent of the arts and crafts movement that sought to provide women with the practical education needed to be self-sufficient. Founded in 1892 by Ellen Dunlap Hopkins, the school went through several significant changes beginning with the new building at 160 Lexington Avenue in 1909, then the reincorporation as a co-educational school and merger with the Phoenix Arts Institute in 1944, and finally the merger with Pratt Institute in 1974. Hopkins and the administration were frequently successful in attracting donors, instructors, and directors who kept the school running with their involvement. This collection documents the school’s activities, primarily from 1892 to1944, through the correspondence and records of various individuals involved in the school.


The records have been arranged into the various functions of the school. The original order was maintained in some cases when there was a complete record of the documents, but many series were incomplete upon acquisition. Moreover, since the series have been arranged by function or office, the correspondence of one individual may exist in several different series. Much of the correspondence consists of carbon copies, some of which are very brittle.

Much of the information to be found in this collection exists in the correspondence, some of which is undated. Photographs and negatives are in good condition and have been integrated with the photograph collection under the subject heading “Pratt/New York-Phoenix School of Design” (PNYP).

The records are arranged in thirteen series, nine of which have been further arranged in subseries. The series and subseries arrangement of the records is as follows:

Series 1: Board of Directors, 1892-1942

1.1: Constitution and By-Laws, 1914-1932

1.2: Certificate of Incorporation, 1892-1926

1.3: Meeting Minutes, 1915, 1937

1.4: Agreements and Resolutions, 1895-1936

1.5: Nominations, 1906-1915

1.6: Correspondence, 1895-1942

Series 2: Ellen Dunlap Hopkins, 1894-1939

2.1: General, 1896-1939

2.2: Personal correspondence, 1894-1939

2.3: Special correspondence, 1926-1939

Series 3: Finance, 1897-1942

3.1 Endowment Fund, 1897-1942

3.2 General Fund, 1907-1941

Series 4: Building (160-162 Lexington Avenue), 1893-1945

4.1: Planning and History, 1904-1939

4.2: Building Fund, 1903-1916

4.3: Mortgages, 1906-1941

4.4: Facilities, 1893-1945

Series 5: Faculty and Administration, 1905-1944

5.1: Advisory Committee, 1905-1944

5.2: Jurors and luncheons, 1933-1942

5.3: Ellen J. Pond Correspondence, 1907-1939

5.4: Madeleine R. Robinson Correspondence, 1934-1944

5.5: Faculty, 1916-1942

Series 6: Library, 1902-1943

6.1: Library Committee, 1931-1942

6.2: Library Fund, 1902-1943

6.3: Collections and Classification, 1906-1942

Series 7: Scholarships, 1892-1944

Series 8: Students, 1893-1942

8.1: Student Activities, 1893-1940

8.2: Graduates, 1894-1942

8.3: Association of Graduates and Students, 1905-1942

Series 9: Inquiries, 1933-1948

Series 10: New York-Phoenix School of Design, 1929-1973

10.1: Phoenix Art Institute, 1929-1934

10.2: Board of Trustees, 1944-1966

10.3: Financial, 1947-1968

10.4: Library, 1945-1957

10.5: Students, 1945-1973

10.6: Women’s Auxiliary, 1945-1951

Series 11: Pratt-Phoenix School of Design, 1974-1985

11.1: Administrative, 1974-1976

11.2: Public Relations, 1974-1977

Series 12: Photographs and Negatives, 1895-1977

Series 13: Student Materials, circa 1892-1944

Related Materials

Photograph Collection (“Pratt/New York-Phoenix School of Design” (PNYP))

Harmful Language Statement

If you encounter any pejorative language (i.e. racist, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic) or content in the finding aids or within the content of the collection, please send an email to with the relevant details. For more information about how the Pratt Institute Libraries are addressing offensive language and content across its catalogs and databases, please see the Libraries' Harmful Language Statement:


Guide to the Records of the New York School of Applied Design for Women
Ian Post
May 2015
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Repository Details

Part of the Pratt Institute Archives Repository

200 Willoughby Avenue
Brooklyn NY 11205 United States