SG11 Elaine Wickens Papers (1959-2005)
Creator: Wickens, Elaine
Title: Elaine Wickens Papers
RG: RG10 SG11
Dates: 1959 [1969-1987] 2005
Quantity: 21 boxes (7.3 cubic feet)
Language of Material: English
This collection was donated to the Bank Street College Archives by Elaine Wickens in 2008 and 2009. The collection was processed by Nicole Frisone and Lindsey Wyckoff in 2012. This project was made possible in part by a grant from the Documentary Heritage Program of the New York State Archives, a program of the State Education Department.
Elaine Wickens grew up in West Virginia and received her B.A. in education from Sarah Lawrence in 1952, and her master’s from Columbia University Teachers College in 1957. Wickens worked with special needs children at the Reece School for Emotionally Disturbed Children, in the Teachers College Mental Retardation Unit, and at the Child Development Center in New York, a therapeutic nursery school. In 1960, Wickens became the first second grade teacher at the Bank Street School for Children.
Wickens' avid interest in photography led to her role as the photographer for the Bank Street College. The subjects of her photographs included projects she worked on with Bank Street, including her time as a consultant for the Head Start and Follow Through programs. In 1968, Wickens was appointed as a field representative to the Follow Through program in Tuskegee, Alabama and lived in Nashville until 1970. During her time in Tuskegee, Wickens began working on her first books that used photographs of children from Tuskegee. In addition to photography, Elaine also produced filmstrips that utilized photographs from her travels. In 1977, Wickens furthered her photographic career and used her sabbatical to travel to Santa Fe, New Mexico to learn about motion picture production and she continued to travel between New York and New Mexico. Uniting her interests in the arts and in education, Wickens also helped start and run a graduate program between Bank Street and Parsons on arts administration in education during the 1980s and 1990s.
In 1981, Wickens’ husband David died of AIDS and she devoted more attention to social responsibility and education, beginning with nuclear disarmament. By 1991, Elaine became involved as an activist and educator on Gay and Lesbian issues. In particular, Wickens’ work as an educator prompted her to look into the children of gay and lesbian parents in the classroom, which lead her to publish a children’s book and a number of academic articles and conference presentations on the subject with her colleagues from Bank Street. In 2001, Wickens retired from Bank Street after forty years.
Scope and Content Note
The collection consists of the following series:
A - Written Work
B - Prints, Contact Sheets and Negatives
C - Audiovisual Materials
D - Slides
Select a series below for further information.
SERIES A - Written Work
Contains materials from Wickens’ time at Bank Street College, including memos and materials from the Follow Through and Head Start Programs and the scripts for Wickens’ filmstrips. The bulk of this material deals with Wickens’ research into Gay and Lesbian issues associated with education, in particular teaching the family and working with the children of gay and lesbian parents or gay children. This includes transcripts of interviews with parents and school administrators.
SERIES B - Prints, Contact Sheets and Negatives
Contains photographs, negatives and contact sheets arranged by subject matter. The subjects covered include photographs from publications, such as Kirt’s New House, photographs of children, classrooms and teachers, many photographs from Tuskegee, Child/Parent programs, documentation of the joint program between Parsons and Bank Street, photographs from Wickens’ time in New Mexico and miscellaneous photographs which are mostly of a personal nature. The dates range from the mid-1950s to the late 1990s, though the bulk are from the 1970s.
SERIES C - Audiovisual Materials
Contains cassette and VHS tapes. These recordings include Wickens' work, including an oral history project on the history of Bank Street College and interviews for her research on gay parents and their families. They have not been played.
SERIES D - Slides
Contains many slides (most labeled though some unlabeled) arranged according to subject matter. The subjects include Bank Street graduate students and School for Children students, filmstrips, New Mexico, P.S. 63 which had a joint program with Bank Street for mainstreaming special needs children, P.S. 11, P.S. 87, classrooms, teachers and children, Nuclear and Peace Education, David’s Project, architectural photography, Elaine’s photographs for the book Birds in Our World, and miscellaneous personal photographs.