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John Vassos Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Vassos, John, 1898-1989
Title: John Vassos Papers
Inclusive Dates: 1928-1981
Quantity: 7.5 linear ft., incl. 232 oversize items
Abstract: The collection consists of the artwork and professional papers of John Vassos. Arranged in four categories (Correspondence-Subject File, Artwork, Writings, and Memorabilia), the collection focuses on Vassos' creative efforts as an arts administrator (Silvermine Guild of Artists), an innovative illustrator (The Ballad of Reading Gaol, Phobia), and an industrial designer. The collection includes correspondence, designs, drawings, photographs, paintings, essays, books, memorabilia and printed material.
Language: English
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010
http://scrc.syr.edu

Biographical History

Greek-American industrial designer, painter, illustrator, author, Vassos worked to establish industrial design as a profession with a strong academic foundation. A founding member of the American Designers Institute (ADI) and the Industrial Designers' Institute (IDI), Vassos played a major role in the 1965 merger of the Industrial Designers' Institute (IDI), the American Society of Industrial Designers (ASID), and the Industrial Design Education Association (IDEA) to form the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA).

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

Spanning the years 1928-1981, the collection consists of the artwork and professional papers of the Greek-American artist, author, industrial designer, and illustrator John Vassos (1898-1985). Arranged in four categories (Correspondence-Subject File, Artwork, Writings, and Memorabilia),the collection focuses on Vassos' creative efforts as an arts administrator (Silvermine Guild of Artists), an innovative illustrator (Salome, The Ballad of Reading Gaol , The Harlot's House, Contempo, Ultimo, Gray's Elegy, Kubla Khan, Phobia, Humanities, ), and an industrial designer (accordians for Hohner; computers, an electron microscope, radios, and televisions for RCA; as well as corporate logos, shotguns, and turnstyles).

The collection also reflects Vassos' work in establishing Industrial Design as a profession with a strong academic foundation. Collection materials testify to Vassos' efforts to educate businessmen with the help of other designers and to speak with design students at Syracuse University, the University of Bridgeport, and the University of Cincinnati. A founding member of the American Designers Institute (ADI) and the Industrial Designers' Institute (IDI), Vassos played a major role in the 1965 merger of the Industrial Designers' Institute (IDI), the American Society of Industrial Designers (ASID), and the Industrial Design Education Association (IDEA) to form the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA).

The Correspondence-Subject File contains correspondence and related material from clients, colleagues and friends, and organizations. Among Vassos' clients were Kuljian, Prudential Lines, Inc., and the Radio Corporation of America (RCA), and material includes correspondence, designs, publications, and memorabilia relating to these companies. Colleagues and friends whose correspondence is represented include Constantinos Doxiadis, Martin Kamin, Tucker Madawick, Joseph Parriott, Arthur Pulos, and Rex Rand. Organizational material, consisting of correspondence, publications, and memorabilia, relates to the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) and the Silvermine Guild of Artists. The Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) materials pertain to the early organizational structure of the Society and also feature designs by Vassos.

Artwork includes designs (Bendix, "The Bible," M. Hohner, Inc., and Italian Lines Steamship Agency, Inc.) and drawings as well asoriginal and published illustrations. There are also photographs of some of Vassos' paintings and reproductions of some of his other work.

Books which Vassos wrote and illustrated as well as drafts and published versions of essays constitute Writings. Essays, many of which concern the contributions of industrial design to society, appeared in various design and corporate journals, regional magazines, and newspapers.

Memorabilia comprises calendars, financial and legal material, documents pertaining to Vassos' military career, and assorted printed material.

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Restrictions

Access Restrictions

There are no access restrictions on this material.

Use Restrictions

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

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Subject Headings

Persons

Chapman, David
Doxiades, K. A. (Konstantinos Apostolou), 1913-1975
Kamin, Martin
Kaufmann, Edgar, 1910-
Madawick, Tucker P.
Miller, Leon Gordon
Parriott, Joseph M.
Pulos, Arthur J.
Rand, Rex
Spilman, Raymond, 1911-
Vassos, John, 1898-1985, Archives

Corporate Bodies

American Society of Industrial Designers
Industrial Design Education Association
Industrial Designers Society of America
Industrial Designers' Institute
RCA Corporation
Silvermine Guild Center for the Arts

Subjects

Art deco, United States
Art, American
Art, American, 20th century
Design, Industrial, United States
Greek American artists
Illustrators, United States
Industrial designers, United States
Painters, United States
Painting, American
Painting, Modern, 20th century, United States

Genres and Forms

Correspondence
Drawings
Essays
Illustrations
Photographs

Occupations

Artists
Illustrators
Industrial designers
Painters

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

John Vassos Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Finding Aid Information

Created by: JoD
Date: Oct 1991
Revision history: 13 Jul 2005 - EAD file created (MRR); 12 Jun 2013 - map-case locations updated (MRC)

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Inventory

Biographical material
Box 1 Biographical and Family material 1938, 1963-1974, undated
Correspondence-Subject File
Box 1 A (1 folder)
Box 1 Allcom Company, Inc. 1964, 1966
American Designers Institute (ADI)
See Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA)
Box 1 American Society for Neo-Hellenic Studies, Inc. 1964, 1973
American Society of Industrial Designers (ASID)
See Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA)
Box 1 The Argonaut 1972, 1974
Box 1 Atlantis 1972, undated
Box 1 B (1 folder)
Box 1 Baer, Albert M. 1964-1974
Box 1 Baldwin, Faith undated
Box 1 Buttitta, Tony 1968
Box 1 C (1 folder)
Chapman, David
See Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA)
Box 1 Cherepov, George 1968
Box 1 Christian, John undated
Box 1 Columbia University 1963-1974
Box 1 D (1 folder)
Box 1 Doxiadis, Constantinos A. 1965-1971
Box 1 E.P. Dutton & Co., Inc. 1968-1975
Box 1 E-F (1 folder)
Box 1 Felix, Mary 1973-1974
See also American Society for Neo-Hellenic Studies, Inc.
Box 1 Field trial clubs 1949-1962, undated (2 folders)
Box 1 Finch College Museum of Art 1970
Box 1 French, Benjamin I. 1975-1977
See also Radio Corporation of America (RCA)
Box 1 G (1 folder)
Box 1 Guilfoyle, Roger 1971, undated
Box 1 H-I (1 folder)
Box 1 Industrial Design Education Association (IDEA)
See Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA)
Box 1 Industrial Designers' Institute (IDI)
See Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA)
Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) 1941-1981, undated
Box 1 Correspondence (General) 1948-1978, undated (11 folders)
Box 1 Bylaws (2 folders)
Committees
Box 1 Bicentennial of American Design
Box 1 Education (2 folders)
Box 1 Grievance Inter-Society Licensing (2 folders)
Box 1 Nominating
Box 1 Safety
Box 1 Designs
Map-Case 50 Designs, oversize
Meetings
Box 2 Board of Directors (4 folders)
Design awards
See Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA): Meetings: National
Box 2 National (2 folders)
Box 2 Regional
Box 2 Membership directories (3 folders)
Publications
Box 2 News releases (various) 1965, undated
Box 2 News releases about Vassos ca. 1955 (2 folders)
Box 2 Periodicals - ms drafts, production records (4 folders)
Box 2 Periodicals (various issues) 1941-1972 (4 folders)
Box 2 Reports
Memorabilia
Box 2 Printed material about IDSA
Box 2 Clippings 1965
Box 2 Promotional material
Box 2 Miscellaneous
Box 2 Irwin, Donald 1972, undated
See also Norwalk, CT
Box 2 J-K (1 folder)
Box 2 Kamin, Martin 1967-1971, undated
Kaufmann, Edgar
See Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA)
Box 2 Kiwanis Club 1971
Kuljian
Box 2 Correspondence 1968-1970, undated
Box 2 Designs
Projects, Standards
Box 2 Promotional material (4 folders)
Projects, Standards
Box 2 L (1 folder)
Box 2 Lilly, Elisabeth 1966-1973, undated
Box 2 Lord, Clifford Lee 1965
See also Columbia University
Box 2 M (1 folder)
Box 2 Madawick, Tucker P. 1968-1975
See also Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) and Radio Corporation of America (RCA)
Miller, Leon Gordon
See Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA)
Box 2 N (1 folder)
Box 2 National Art Museum of Sport 1962-1973, undated
Box 2 New York University 1950, 1952
Box 2 Norwalk, CT 1968-1975, undated (1 folder)
Box 3 O (1 folder)
Box 3 Onassis, Aristotle Socrates 1968
Box 3 P (1 folder)
Box 3 Parriott, Joseph 1965, 1971
See also Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA)
Box 3 Parsons School of Design 1964-1966
Box 3 Pavilions 1954-1957, 1964, undated (2 folders)
See also Radio Corporation of America (RCA): Designs and Artwork: Designs: Pavilions
Box 3 Perry, Helen Swick 1964
Box 3 Philadelphia Art Alliance 1964-1965, 1971, undated
Box 3 Pratt Institute 1954, 1971-1973, undated
Prudential Lines, Inc. 1965-1974, undated
Box 3 Correspondence
Designs
Box 3 Projects (2 folders)
Map-Case 50 Projects, oversize
Box 3 Standards
Box 3 Promotional material (drafts)
Box 3 Promotional material
Box 3 Memorabilia
Box 3 Clippings 1967-1970
Box 3 Pulos, Arthur
See also Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) and Syracuse University
Box 3 Q-R (1 folder)
Radio Corporation of America (RCA) 1934-1976, undated
Box 3 Correspondence (General) 1945-1975, undated (4 folders)
Box 3 Committees - Advanced Design and Styling Center Advisory Board
Designs
Box 3 The American Style
Box 3 International sketches 1947
Box 3 Magictron
Box 3 Pavilions
Box 3 Projects (miscellaneous) (3 folders)
Map-Case 50 Projects, oversize (2 folders)
Box 3 Standards (3 folders)
Box 3 Trademark
Publications
Box 3 Annual reports 1959-1974 (4 folders)
Broadcast News 1948, 1960-1961, 1968, 1969
Box 4 Miscellaneous issues (3 folders)
Box 4 News releases 1960, 1972, undated
Box 4 Periodicals - miscellaneous issues
Box 4 Promotional material (4 folders)
Box 4 RCA Art Collection undated
Reports
Box 4 By Vassos
Box 4 Miscellaneous
Memorabilia
Box 4 Clippings 1952, 1968-1969, 1976, undated
Box 4 Vassos tribute
Box 4 Miscellaneous
Box 4 Rand, Rex 1954-1973, undated
Box 4 Risom, Jens 1958, 1959
Box 4 Rockefeller, Nelson A. 1970
Box 4 Russian Dollar Bondholders Committee of the U.S.A. 1964-1973, undated
Box 4 S (1 folder)
Box 4 Silvermine Guild of Artists 1950-1973, undated (2 folders)
Box 4 Skouras, George 1955
Box 4 Society of Industrial Designers (SID)
See also Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA)
Box 4 Spilman, Raymond
See also Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA)
Box 4 Stanford University 1961
Box 4 Syracuse University 1973-1974, undated
Box 4 T (1 folder)
Trade fairs
See Pavilions
Box 4 U (1 folder)
United States Department of Commerce
See Pavilions
United States Foreign Service
See Pavilions
United States Information Agency (USIA)
See Pavilions
Box 4 University of Bridgeport 1967-1973, undated
Box 4 University of Cincinnati 1974
Box 4 V (1 folder)
Box 4 Veterans of the Office of Strategic Services (O.S.S.) 1965-1973 (1 folder)
Box 4 W-Z, unidentified (1 folder)
Artwork
Designs
Map-Case 50 Architectural drawings (miscellaneous)
Box 4 Bendix
Box 4 "The Bible" A-Z 1928-1952, undated (5 folders)
Map-Case 50 Chromespun House of Color
Box 5 French, Narti 1974, undated
Box 5 M. Hohner, Inc. 1974, undated
Map-Case 50 M. Hohner, Inc. - oversize items
Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA)
See Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA): Designs
Box 5 Italian Lines Steamship Agency, Inc. 1974
Kuljian
See Kuljian: Designs
Map-Case 50 Pavilions
Prudential Lines, Inc.
See Prudential Lines, Inc.: Designs
Radio Corporation of America (RCA)
See Radio Corporation of America (RCA): Designs
Map-Case 50 Shotgun
Box 5 Miscellaneous projects 1948-1972, undated
Box 5 Drawings, misc (11 items)
Illustrations (original)
Map-Case 47 "The Abduction of Helen of Troy" 1935 (1 item)
Box 5 The Courier 1968 (1 item)
Map-Case 47 Humanities 1935 - pp. 101 - Waste (numbers refer to page numbers in Contempo, Phobia and Other Graphic Interpretations, Dover Publications, 1976) (1 item)
Map-Case 47 Kubla Khan 1934 (8 items)
Arabic numerals refer to "stanzas" as numbered by Vassos, Roman numerals to "page number"
  • 1 - xxiii - In Xanadu...
  • 2 - xxvii - Where Alph...
  • 4 - xxxv - And Here Were Gardens...
  • 7 - xdvii - And From This Chasm...
  • 8 - di - Amid Whose Swift Half-intermitted Burst...
  • 10 - dix - And 'Mid This Tumult
  • 11 - dxiii - The Shadow Of The Dome Of Pleasure...
  • 13 - dxxi - And All Who Heard...
  • Map-Case 47 Phobia, #49-54 1931
    Numbers refer to page numbers in Contempo, Phobia and Other Graphic Interpretations, Dover Publications, 1976
  • 49 - Frontispiece
  • 50 - Nyctophobia
  • 51 - Astrophobia
  • 52 - Zoophobia
  • 53 - Potamophobia
  • 54 - Hylophobia
  • Map-Case 48 Phobia, #55-71 1931
    Numbers refer to page numbers in Contempo, Phobia and Other Graphic Interpretations, Dover Publications, 1976
  • 55 - Necrophobia
  • 56 - Acrophobia
  • 57 - Climacophobia
  • 58 - Batophobia
  • 59 - Dromophobia
  • 60 - Aichmophobia
  • 61 - Agrophobia
  • 62 - Claustrophobia
  • 63 - Monophobia
  • 64 - Topophobia
  • 65 - Kleptophobia
  • 66 - Mysophobia
  • 67 - Anthropophobia
  • 68 - Phagophobia
  • 69 - Syphilophobia
  • 70 - Hypnophobia
  • 71 - Pantophobia
  • Map-Case 49 Ship
    Map-Case 47 Subway, "The First Subway Drawing in Charcoal" 1926
    Illustrations (published)
    Coleridge, Samuel Taylor - Kubla Khan 1933, 1934
    Rare Books Collections (transferred from Manuscripts)
    Box 5 The Courier no. 29 1968
    Wilde, Oscar - The Ballad of Reading Gaol 1928, 1930
    Rare Books Collections (transferred from Manuscripts)
    Wilde, Oscar - The Harlot's House and Other Poems 1929
    Rare Books Collections (transferred from Manuscripts)
    Box 5 Paintings (photographs)
    Box 5 Miscellaneous (reproductions)
    Writings
    Books
    Contempo, Phobia, and Other Graphic Interpretations 1976
    Rare Books Collections (transferred from Manuscripts)
    Phobia 1931
    Rare Books Collections (transferred from Manuscripts)
    Essays
    Box 5 "The Artist's Foreword" 1934
    ms. draft - Kubla Khan
    Box 5 "As the Walls Come Tumbling Down"
    ms. draft
    Box 5 "Challenge and Opportunity" undated
    Box 5 "The Chromespun House of Color for the Young in Heart," John Vassos / Thomas H. Yardley 1959
    Box 5 "Controlled Light" - Interiors Feb. 1948
    Box 5 "Design for Selling" - Sales Executives Club Weekly News Bulletin 24 May 1935
    Box 5 "Designing in Depth - Reflections" - IDSA American Designer Dec 1966
    Box 5 "Designing Today's Living Room" - Upholstering Jun 1946
    Box 5 "Future Designers Tackle Gas Stations" - County Oct 1967
    Box 5 "Imagination is Not Enough" - County Jan 1968
    Box 5 "Industrial Design - Quo Vadis?"
    ms. drafts
    Box 5 "Islander's Design"
    ms. drafts
    Box 5 "The Real Jamaica"- County Oct 1967
    Box 5 "The Rivoli Murals" - brochure undated
    Box 5 "Shaping a New World Through Design" - County Jan 1967
    Box 5 "This is Norwalk" - Fairfield County Magazine Feb 1975
    Box 5 "Tribute to Malcarney: Executive, Sportsman"
    (working title: "A Tribute to a Sportsman") ms. draft
    Box 5 "Tribute to Malcarney: Executive, Sportsman" (working title: "A Tribute to a Sportsman") (clipping) undated
    Box 5 "Tribute to Pert Prince"
    ms. drafts
    Box 5 "Why Not All-Electric Living-Units?" - Electrical Manufacturing Oct 1940
    Box 5 Miscellaneous
    Memorabilia
    Box 5 Calendars 1963 , 1964
    Box 5 Financial 1950, 1964-1974
    Box 5 Legal - wills
    Box 5 Military
    Box 5 Photographs (personal) 1928, 1930, 1941, undated
    Printed material
    Box 5 Brochures (3 folders)
    Clippings
    Box 5 Articles about 1928, 1952-1973, undated
    Box 5 Articles about (peripheral mention) 1949, 1960-1974, undated
    Box 5 Miscellaneous 1961-1975, undated (3 folders)
    Box 5 Design competitions
    Box 5 Exhibition catalogs and announcements
    Box 5 Miscellaneous (3 folders)
    Box 5 Publicity
    Box 5 Real estate
    Box 5 Miscellaneous
    Map-Case 50 Miscellaneous, oversize

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