NYSID Archives with Archivist Nora Reilly

In 2013, NYSID established its archives in anticipation of its 100th anniversary in 2016. Since then, the majority of NYSID’s institutional collections as well as a number of acquired archives from interior designers and firms have been organized and rehoused according to archival standards. In 2014, Nora Reilly was hired as NYSID’s first official staff archivist. Her work mainly consists of conducting research; processing the collections so that they are in stable, acid-free environments; and working closely with Billy Kwan, director of the NYSID Library, to establish policies and procedures.

Since this past fall, I have dedicated myself to researching the history of the College; gathering information about important NYSID people, places, and events and conducting a series of oral history interviews with some of the College’s longtime faculty, staff, and alumni in order to synthesize 100 years’ worth of school history.

There are so many jewels and wonderful discoveries in the collection! There are transcripts of radio talks on home decorating given by NYSID founder Sherrill Whiton; letters of correspondence between Home Study students and faculty from the 1920s; a wonderful collection of business cards from the 1940s when students were first opening up their own design firms; and publicity scrapbooks from the 1930s documenting the successes of faculty and students. The archives also contains the Interior Design Special Collections; which is comprised of the archival collections of two NYSID alumni; Joseph Grusczak and Sarah Tomerlin Lee, as well as the Neal A. Prince Special Collection Archives, the Yale R. Burge Antiques and Interiors Collection, and a collection from publisher of Contract and Interiors magazine John Rouse.

A milestone like the centennial is an amazing opportunity to highlight the College’s archives in ways that are especially meaningful. There is a series of archival photos on display throughout our 69th and 70th street buildings (made possible by a gift from NYSID trustee Dennis Miller), and a Timeline of NYSID’s history installed in NYSID’s 69th gallery through the end of 2016. Over the course of the year, NYSID will continue to highlight the College’s history using the archives, both on campus and online, so stay tuned! And for more information on NYSID’s Archives & Special Collections, please visit our website.

Phyllis Greer