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Records of the School of Art and Design

Identifier: PI-010

Scope and Contents

The Records of the School of Art and Design document the school from its infancy in 1888, through 2015 when the school was once again divided in two. The series are arranged to highlight the various departments within the school, as well as administrative records, alumni and student work, and publications.


  • 1888 - 2019
  • Majority of material found within 1940 - 2000


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 School of Art and Design was one of the original departments at Pratt Institute during its first academic year in 1887. The first October class had only 12 enrolled students – a number that grew to several hundred in just four months.

Originally formed with the goal of training artists to make practical use of their skills, the courses focused on three areas of study: construction (drawing as applied in industrial construction and the making of objects), representation (drawing as applied in representing the appearance of objects and of nature) and decoration (drawing as applied in ornamentation). Core classes for the three aforementioned divisions included freehand, mechanical and architectural drawing, color, clay modeling design and woodcarving.

In 1890, the department was divided into two – the Art Department and Mechanical Arts Department. The former remained focused on the decorative and fine arts, while the latter became a trade school of its own. The departments underwent further rearranging in 1893, when the Art Department became the Department of Industrial and Fine Arts. Courses that did not fit this description were moved to the Department of Science and Technology. Only one year later was the Department of Industrial and Fine Arts changed once again to the Department of Fine Arts.

In 1905, the art department became the Department of Fine and Applied Arts, presumably to eliminate any misconceptions regarding the focus of the department. The name was changed again in 1941 to The Art School – which marked the beginning of a three decade-long evolution that resulted in the school developing into a more progressive arts program. Certificate programs were eliminated completely by 1953, and a more sophisticated master’s program was established. In 1968, the School of Art and Design was given its final name.

Over the decades, several departments moved both to and from the School of Art and Design. The fashion department grew out of sewing and design classes originally offered by the School of Home Economics, as did the interior design department. Though the schools at Pratt Institute have been anything but stagnant, the School of Art and Design remained structurally much the same until 2014. As part of Pratt’s strategic plan for 2012-2017, the school was divided in two, resulting in the School of Art and School of Design.


23.0 Linear Feet (50 boxes, 1 oversize box)

Language of Materials



The Records of the School of Art and Design illustrate the school’s history within Pratt Institute, from its beginnings in 1888 to its curriculum overhaul in 2014 and re-division into two separate schools in 2015. The records date from 1888 to 2018 and include administrative reports and correspondance, marketing materials, student work, exhibition material, alumni records, and publications.


The records are arranged in thirteen series, eleven of which have been further arranged in subseries, and some even further into sub-subseries. Each series and sub-series is maintained in chronological order when possible. The series and subseries arrangement of the records is as follows:

Series 1: Administrative, 1888-2015

1.1: Correspondence, 1907-1958

1.2: Faculty, 1971-2002

1.3: Newsletters, 1954-1995

1.4: Printed matter, 1896-2015

1.4.1: Events, 1896-2015

1.4.2: Promotional materials, 1945-2007

1.4.3: Catalogs, 1932-1995

1.4.4: Scrapbook, 1930-1940

1.5: Meeting Minutes, 1917-1939

1.6: Proposals, 1972-2002

1.7: Reports, 1910-2002

1.7.1: “Change, or the Appearance of Change”, 1986

1.7.2: Inter—School Grading Analysis, 1944-1945

Series 2: Art Education, 1898-1995

2.1: Printed Matter, 1911-1995

2.2: Publications, 1934

2.3: Saturday Morning Classes, 1898-1953

2.3.1: Course catalogs, 1934-1947

2.3.2: Student files, 1898--1953

Series 3: Art History, 1997-1998

Series 4: Art Therapy, 1970-1998

4.1: Creative Arts Therapy Review, 1980-1998

4.2: Printed Matter, 1970-1987

Series 5: Fashion, 1925-2015

5.1: Fashion Shows, 1925-2001

5.2: Newsletters, 1967-1975

5.3: Publicity, 1925-1998

5.4: Self Study, 1987

5.5: Catalogs, 1998-2015

Series 6: Graphic Arts and Illustration, 1952-1994

Series 7: Graphics Center (Center for Contemporary Printmaking), 1932-1986

7.1: Printed Matter, 1932-1986

7.2: Exhibitions, 1965-1986

Series 8: Industrial Design, 1937-2002

8.1: Advertising and Communications Design, 1965-2002

8.2: Packaging Design, 1965-1974

8.3: Printed Matter, 1937-1995

8.4: Transportation, 1971-1990

8.5: Universal Design, 1986-1995

8.5.1: Catalogs, 1986-1993

8.5.2: Printed Matter, 1993-1995

8.5.3: Ephemera, 1994

Series 9: Interior Design, 1964-2011

9.1: Newsletters, 1964-1969

9.2: Printed Matter, 1952-2011

9.3: Reports, 1986-1993

Series 10: Camouflage Program, 1941-1998

10.1: Manuals, 1942

10.2: Reports, 1941-1998

Series 11: Alumni, 1890-1970

11.1: Alumni Association, 1904-1938

11.2: Graduation Lists, 1890-1970

Series 12: Students, 1898-1977

12.1: Printed Matter, 1937-1977

12.2: Clara Vom Lehn, 1898-1989

Series 13: Publications, 1953-1982

13.1: AdLib Press, 1953-1968

13.1.2: Keepsake, 1953-1982

13.2: Artist’s Proof, 1961-1971

13.3: Print Review, 1973-1985

13.4: Werner Pfeiffer Student Works, 1972-2002

13.5: Photography Publications, 2004-2018

Related Materials

Accreditation Records (Collection #PI-017)

Arthur Wesley Dow Papers (Collection #013)

Records of the Department of Exhibitions (Collection #PI-008)

Ernest F. Fenollosa Papers (Collection #014)

Joan Anderson Papers (Collection #023)

Walter Scott Perry Papers (Collection #012)

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:

Processing History

This Finding Aid was written by Ruby Johnstone in 2016. Updated by Miranda Siler in 2020. Updated by Sarah Cuk in 2021: records pertaining to Pratt Graphic Center publications in Series 12 deleted with creation of PI-029 Records of the Pratt Graphics Center. Descriptive standard used: Describing Archives a Content Standard. Finding Aid written in English.

Guide to the Records of the School of Art and Design
Ruby Johnstone
March 2016
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Pratt Institute Archives Repository

200 Willoughby Avenue
Brooklyn NY 11205 United States