Layton School of Art and Design Records, 1888-1980

Scope and Content Note

These are the official records of the Layton School of Art in Milwaukee, Wis. Although there are earlier materials, the bulk of the collection covers the period from 1954 to 1974 which coincides with the administrations of Edmund Lewandowski (1954-1972) and Neil Lieberman (1972-1974). When Partridge and Frink were forced into retirement in 1954 by the Layton Board of Trustees, they took the bulk of the school's administrative files with them. Researchers are advised to consult the Charlotte R. Partridge and Miriam Frink Papers (Milwaukee Mss 167) for further information about the school's early history.

The Layton School of Art Records are not complete and coverage of the Lewandowski and Lieberman administrative eras is spotty. The collection is organized into three series: PRESIDENT'S GENERAL FILE, CARL MOEBIUS' FILE ON LSA CLOSING, and PHOTOGRAPHS.

The PRESIDENT'S GENERAL FILE (1888-1975) comprises the bulk of the records. Included are administrative, financial, curricular, historical, publicity, building, registrar's, and student-related materials. Most complete are school publications and brochures, including a run of the school catalog, and various brochures and flyers related to student recruitment, the day and evening schools, summer classes, and children's programs. School catalogs and brochures located in the Partridge and Frink Papers were removed and placed in this collection to facilitate research use. Some contain notes and comments written by Partridge or Frink.

There is an extensive news clipping file. Although the curricular materials are generally spotty, there is quite a bit of material relating to the establishment of a freshman and sophomore comprehensive studies program. Original and later editions of the school's articles of incorporation and bylaws are contained in the series, as are minutes of the Board of Trustees. There are significant gaps in the Board minutes. Correspondence is thin and what remains is primarily with individual Board members and some faculty.

Files relating to the faculty union and subsequent grievances are present as are materials pertaining to the school's facilities and properties. Some records of the Layton Art Gallery and Layton Art League survive as do scattered records relating to a variety of state and national organizations and agencies including American Federation of Arts, Art Directors' Club of Milwaukee, Milwaukee County War Memorial, Polish Fine Arts Club, and others. Additional materials document the school's history and its closing. Merger proposals with Marquette University, the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, news clippings, correspondence, and other items pertain to the school's closure.

Registrar and graduation records include a register of graduates (1921-1974), commencement programs, enrollment reports, policies and procedures from the Registrar's Office, and information about financial aid and scholarships. Student-related materials are patchy, but do include copies of notices sent to all students, Student Council materials, and documents pertaining to projects and competition in which Layton students were involved. Some student thesis project books are included which provide a glimpse into products created by Layton students.

CARL MOEBIUS' FILE ON LSA CLOSING (1954-1980) contains records used by Moebius, who served as chair of the Layton Board of Directors at the time of closure. Included are correspondence, Board meeting minutes, financial records, and a range of materials pertaining to the administration and disposition of various school obligations, assets, and properties. There are also records concerning the faculty union and libel action brought by seven Layton faculty members against the school. The Board continued to meet after the school's closing to fulfill its legal and financial obligations and administer the school's assets (which totaled two million dollars in 1980). Its meeting minutes extend to 1980.

PHOTOGRAPHS of the Layton School of Art and Design document the operations and educational approach of the school. Most of the photographs were taken between 1954 and 1974. Although there are views of the physical plant, faculty, Layton Art Gallery, and student life; the bulk of the photographs pertain to a variety of art classrooms and activity therein, student art projects, and an array of temporary exhibitions displayed at the school. Exhibits included African sculpture, Olivetti, Northwest Coast Indian, Architectural Steel, Illustrators and Designers of Milwaukee, Good Design Is Ageless, and the 1948 Wisconsin State Centennial exhibition.