RG2 Office of the President

Biographical Note

Lucy Sprague Mitchell was the founder and leader of the Bureau of Educational Experiments from 1916 to 1956. Following her tenure, there were five presidents of Bank Street College through the end of the 20th century. John H. Niemeyer was appointed first official president in 1956 and served in that position until 1973. He was followed by Francis J. Roberts from 1973 to 1979, Richard R. Ruopp from 1979 to 1988, Joseph Shenker from 1989 to 1996, Augusta Souza Kappner from 1996 to 2008, and Elizabeth D. Dickey from 2008 to the present.

Scope and Content Note

The records of the Office of the President (28 cubic feet) contain subgroups for the founder and each president of Bank Street College. Each subgroup contains eight series. These series are: Official Correspondence and Reports; Committees; Personnel; Academics; Programs; Proposals; External Affairs; and Personal. The records of the Office of the President cover the time period from 1916 to 1999. Records created or acquired by the president during his/her tenure may be included in this record group even if the subject matter does not directly relate to the official duties as president of the College. Some records may also have been created before or after the person occupied the Office of the President.

Descriptions

Select a subgroup below for more information.

  • SUBGROUP 1: Lucy Sprague Mitchell (1916-1969)

    Subgroup 1 contains significant documentation of the creation of the Bureau of Educational Experiments and its evolution into the Bank Street College of Education. This subgroup contains the papers and records of Lucy Sprague Mitchell (1878-1967), the principle founder of the Bureau of Educational Experiments and first acting president of Bank Street College. She served the College from its inception in 1916 until 1955. She was involved in all aspects of Bank Street, including serving as acting president, Working Council chair, member and chair of the Board of Trustees, researcher and teacher. This group also contains records of Mitchell's studies of children's use of language, a book manuscript with notes, cover and interior sketches for books and sets of acetate maps drawn by Mitchell. Her professional and personal correspondence, photographs and ephemera are included. The records cover the time period from 1916-1971. (Note that the Butler Library of Columbia University holds the early personal papers of Lucy Sprague Mitchell as well as those of her husband Wesley Clair Mitchell.)

    SERIES A - Official Correspondence and Reports (1916-1917, 1930 [1956-1966]) includes official correspondence, presidential reports to the Board of Trustees and personal correspondence with John H. Niemeyer following her own tenure as acting president. The series is arranged first with general correspondence in chronological order, followed by correspondence with specific individuals/organizations, arranged alphabetically. Reports are collected at the end of the series.


    SERIES B - Committees (1919, 1941-1954) contains Mitchell's committee meeting notes and correspondence for the Trustee Executive Committee, Studies and Publications Committee and the Harriet Johnson Nursery School Committee. It also contains Mitchell's notes on the BEE Bylaw revisions of 1919. The series is arranged in alphabetical order.

    SERIES C - Personnel (1951) contains correspondence regarding a part-time position in Publications. The records are arranged alphabetically.

    SERIES D - Academics (1916-1963) includes children's language records and stories, articles and drafts written by L.S. Mitchell. Also included are 2 sets of acetate maps hand-drawn by Mitchell as part of her curriculum development efforts in geography and social studies and her sketches of horses and for the cover of Manhattan Now and Long Ago. The records are arranged alphabetically. Many can be found in oversized boxes 3, 3A and 3B.

    SERIES E - Programs (1918-1921 and 1950-1953) contains planning documents for College programs. Records are arranged in alphabetical order.

    SERIES F - Proposals contains proposal drafts from 1953-1956 arranged in chronological order.

    SERIES G - External Affairs (1927-1966) includes speeches, 40th anniversary planning materials and notes and correspondence regarding the Berkeley, CA, public radio station KPFA Talk Series. The records are arranged in alphabetical order.

    SERIES H - Personal (1903 [1950-1967] 1969) includes personal correspondence, biographical sketches, honorary degrees and other tributes, obituaries, memorial service materials and photographs and memorial tributes regarding Alice Freeman Palmer, a friend of Mitchell. Records are arranged alphabetically.

  • SUBGROUP 2: John H. Niemeyer (1933 [1955-1974] 1999)

    Subgroup 2 contains the papers and records of John H. Niemeyer, the first official president of the College. His term of office lasted from 1956-1973, during which time he oversaw the expansion of Graduate Programs and the School for Children, the establishment of a Field Services division, and the College's move to Morningside Heights. He also encouraged a renewed focus on the College publications.

    In addition to his work within the College, Niemeyer was an active and influential member of the progressive education community, serving as a consultant to the United States Office of Education regarding desegregation and the formation of Head Start. He also acted as a consultant and trustee for other organizations such as the Day Care and Child Development Council of America, Mobilization for Youth and the Joint Council on the Mental Health of Children. From the late 1950s through the 1970s Niemeyer was an active and popular speaker on topics including education reform, decentralization and desegregation. Due to his active involvement outside of his role as president of the College, the bulk of materials can be found in the personal series.

    SERIES A - Official Correspondence and Reports (1955-1974) includes official correspondence and presidential reports to the Board of Trustees, as well as development files containing correspondence with philanthropic foundations and individual donors. General correspondence is arranged in chronological order followed by correspondence with specific individuals and organizations arranged alphabetically. Reports are filed at the end of the series. The majority of reports pertain to the Middle States accreditation process during Niemeyer's tenure.

    SERIES B - Committees (1956-1976) contains John H. Niemeyer's committee notes arranged alphabetically.

    SERIES C - Personnel No Content

    SERIES D - Academics (1940-1997) includes John H. Niemeyer's externally published works, writings and related research, and notes filed alphabetically. See Record Group 4-Subgroup 1 for Bank Street publications by John H. Niemeyer.

    SERIES E - Programs (1957-1975) includes program materials for Bank Street Programs such as the Ford Foundation's School Improvement Program - Clark Intervention Project, the Center for Urban Education, Culturally Disadvantaged Youth, Educational Resource Center and the Stamford Project. The series is arranged in alphabetical order.

    SERIES F - Proposals (1960-1975) includes grant proposals and drafts for various Bank Street projects such as the School Integration Project and other programs in public schools, as well as proposals for the construction of the 112th Street building and proposals for strengthening the institution. Arranged alphabetically.

    SERIES G - External Affairs (1942-1994) includes materials from conferences attended and speeches given by Niemeyer. The materials consist of correspondence, drafts, notes and papers documenting Niemeyer's participation in numerous conference and seminars. Important conferences include the 1965 White House Conference on Children and Youth. The series is arranged in alphabetical order.

    SERIES H - Personal (1933 [1960-1999]) includes personal correspondence and records of his professional work outside the auspices of his official role as president, including consulting files and records of other commissions and committees on which Niemeyer served as well as drafts and transcripts of a project on the history of Bank Street and his graduate coursework. Agencies and projects represented include: Day Care and Child Development Council of America (DCCDCA), Joint Commission on the Mental Health of Children (JCMHC), Educational Services Institute (ESI), Mobilization for Youth, the Principals Speak Project, and the USDOE Title IV implementation. The records are arranged alphabetically, with the large projects and agencies listed above alphabetized at the end of the series.

  • SUBGROUP 3: Francis J. Roberts (1973-1981)

    This subgroup contains the papers and records of Francis J. Roberts, who served as president from 1973-1979. The bulk of the subgroup is official correspondence and memos spanning the duration of his tenure.

    SERIES A - Official Correspondence and Reports (1973-1979) includes presidential reports to the Board of Trustees and official correspondence arranged by month for the years 1973 through 1979. The series also includes appointment letters and correspondence regarding the Lilly Endowment and Middle States. General correspondence is arranged in chronological order followed by correspondence with specific individuals/organizations, arranged alphabetically. Reports are filed at the end of the series.

    SERIES B - Committees (1973-1977) contains President Robert's notes, minutes, and correspondence of the College Administrative Committee and Joint Trustee and Professional Staff Committee. Records are filed in alphabetical order.

    SERIES C - Personnel (1973-1979) contains a proposal for a personnel administrator and a position announcement for vice-president of development along with references for the latter. Records are arranged alphabetically.

    SERIES D - Academics (1973-1979) includes Robert's notes on classes he taught at Bank Street and notes and drafts of his writings. Records are arranged alphabetically.

    SERIES E - Programs (1974-1979) contains program materials for Bank Street Programs, including Day Care Consultation Services and the Palisades Interstate Park Environmental Education Program. The files are arranged alphabetically.

    SERIES F - Proposals (1972-1981) includes proposals and drafts for Lilly Endowment grants and the Children's Lending Laboratory. Files are arranged alphabetically.

    SERIES G - External Affairs (1973-1979) includes materials from conferences attended and speeches given. The arrangement is alphabetical.

    SERIES H - Personal (1975) contains a list of team members for the evaluation of Southeastern University by the Commission on Higher Education.

  • SUBGROUP 4: Richard R. Ruopp (1970 [1980-1988])

    This subgroup contains the papers and records of Richard R. Ruopp. He served the College from 1979 to 1988. Prior to coming to Bank Street, Ruopp worked at Abt Associates in a number of capacities, including as director of the National Day Care Study for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from 1974 to1979. Ruopp continued to be active in day care initiatives during his time at the College. During his tenure, Ruopp was involved with the search committee for the New Perspectives director and vice president and dean of Graduate and Children's Programs positions.

    SERIES A - Official Correspondence and Reports (1980-1988) includes official correspondence, materials compiled for accreditation, and presidential reports to the Board of Trustees. General correspondence is arranged in chronological order, followed by correspondence with specific individuals/organizations arranged alphabetically. Reports are filed at the end of the series.

    SERIES B - Committees No Content

    SERIES C - Personnel / Credentials (1980) includes CVs, references, and correspondence from the search for the positions of New Perspectives director and vice president/dean of Graduate and Children's Programs. The arrangement is alphabetical.

    SERIES D - Academics No Content

    SERIES E - Programs No Content

    SERIES F - Proposals (1980-1981) contains a proposal for Family Day Care Training.

    SERIES G - External Affairs contains a speech presented by Ruopp at a conference on child care.

    SERIES H - Personal (1968-1983) includes records of studies on child care conducted by Abt Associates for the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity, the Department of Labor Welfare Reform Planning staff, and the National Day Care Home Study Project. The records consist of correspondence, reports, and background materials on policy planning and research activities conducted by Bank Street and other organizations. The files are arranged alphabetically.

RG2 Office of the President