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George Nelson & Co., Inc. Records

An inventory of its records at Syracuse University

Overview of the Collection

Creator: George Nelson & Co., Inc.
Title: George Nelson & Co., Inc. Records
Inclusive Dates: 1948-1968
Bulk Dates: 1957-1968
Quantity: 5.0 linear ft. (2 doc boxes and 17 tubes of rolled drawings)
Abstract: Design descriptions and illustrations (1957-1968) and design tracings and drawings (1948-1968) of the American industrial and interior design firm.
Language: English
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

Biographical History

George Nelson (1908-1986) was an American writer, lecturer, teacher and designer. He is considered one of the founders of American Modernism, along with Charles and Ray Eames.

Although formally trained in architecture, over his career Nelson became known as a furniture designer, industrial designer, interior designer and exhibition designer. He was also an excellent writer and reporter; his series of interviews in the mid-1930s of important European designers (including Walter Gropius, Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, and Gio Ponti) was published in Pencil Points and led to a position as an editorial staff writer at Architectural Forum. By 1945 he had become co-managing editor of the magazine. After World War II he began a forty-year association with the Herman Miller furniture company. His own company had a client list of Fortune 500 companies and Nelson continued to write, lecture, travel and design throughout.

[Portions of this biographical sketch adapted from "George Nelson," an essay appearing on the website of the American Institute for Graphic Arts.]

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The George Nelson & Co., Inc. Records are divided into three series.

A small amount of Descriptive material about George Nelson and George Nelson & Co. is filed at the beginning of the collection.

Design descriptions and illustrations consist of photographs and printed descriptions of various industrial and interior designs by George Nelson & Co., Inc. These include offices, Herman Miller furniture, a United States Information Agency industrial design exhibit sent to the Soviet Union, and storage and module systems.

Design tracings consist of original drawings of Herman Miller furniture, offices, stores, a medical clinic, a ladder, showrooms, a traveling exhibit, a large number of clocks, a city hall, and other items.

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Arrangement of the Collection

All material is arranged within each series alphabetically by folder title.

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Access Restrictions

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

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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Related Material

Special Collections Research Center has a substantial number of collections relating to industrial design. Please refer to the SCRC Subject Index for a complete listing.

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Subject Headings


Nelson, George, 1908-1986.

Corporate Bodies

George Nelson & Co., Inc.
Herman Miller, Inc.


Clocks and watches -- Design and construction.
Industrial design -- United States.
Industrial designers -- United States.
Interior decorators -- United States.

Genres and Forms

Clippings (information artifacts)
Drawings (visual works)


Industrial designers.
Interior decorators.

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

George Nelson & Co., Inc. Records,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Bulk, gift of George Nelson & Co., Inc., 1968.

Bruce Davidson photographs of sling sofa, gift of Ron Beckmann, 2011.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: MFA
Date: Nov 1968
Revision history: 7 Oct 2011 - adds (MRC); 12 Oct 2011 - corrected sling sofa info (MRC); 28 Aug 2020 - Box 1 located, inventory updated (MRC)

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Descriptive material
Box 1 George Nelson; George Nelson & Co., Inc. 1957-1968
Design descriptions and illustrations
Herman Miller
Box 1 Action office 1968 - holograph reproduction and printed material
Box 1 Brenner clinic, Lafayette, Indiana 1968 - printed material
Box 1 Catenary Group and miscellaneous seating 1968 - holograph, reproductions, printed material
Box 1 Chests 1961-1962 - printed material
Box 1 Desk 1960-1961 - printed material
Box 1 Executive office group 1960-1968 - holograph, reproduction, printed material
Box 1 Fair chair - photograph
Box 1 Sling sofa 1968 - holograph, reproduction, printed material
Box 2 Sling sofa - photographs of sling sofa by Bruce Davidson; sign in one photo says "Catenary Group" (10 items)
Box 1 Storage wall 1961-1962 - printed material
Box 1 Travel exhibit 1968 - photographs, holograph, reproduction
Box 1 United Airlines upholstery chair - reproduction of drawing
Howard Miller
Box 1 Service module system - printed material holograph reproduction
Box 1 United States Information Agency - Industrial Design USA exhibit printed material
Design tracings
Tube 681 Aluminum Extrusions, Inc. experimental ladder 1965 (6 drawings)
Box 2 B.H. Wragge Inc. 1954 - display unites; rack details
Box 2 Calvert Distilling 1955-1956 - decanters
Box 2 Charles D. Briddell, Inc. 1954-1955 - flatware, flatware cases, trays; includes 2 photographs and a clipping
Tube 688 CSS drawings (12 drawings)
Tube 689 EOG revisions (13 drawings)
Box 2 Gartner and Bender 1947-1948 - exhibits, packings cases; includes two photographs (6 drawings)
Box 2 General Lighting Co. 1947-1948, 1950 - lamps (6 drawings)
Herman Miller
Tube 673 Action office chair 1965 (9 drawings)
Tube 674 Action office, travel exhibit system, show rooms 1959-1964 (70 drawings)
Box 2 Armchair 1950 - described on sheet as "springy metal armchair"
Tube 675 Brenner Clinic, Lafayette, Indiana 1966 (8 drawings)
Tube 676 Catenary Group and miscellaneous seating 1948-1963 (78 drawings)
Tube 677 Club group 1962-1963 (26 drawings)
Tube 678 Executive office group side chair 1966 (17 drawings)
Tube 679 Executive office group 1967 (5 drawings)
Tube 680 Fair chair 1963-1964 (28 drawings)
Tube 680 Fair table 1963-1964 (11 drawings)
Tube 680 Blow Spring, net seating, CSS foam core shelf, CSS grill cloth 1961-1963 (26 drawings)
Tube 681 Radial action office 1966 (19 drawings)
Tube 682 Show rooms 1961-1964 (17 drawings)
Tube 683 Sling sofa and miscellaneous products 1954-1965 (82 drawings)
Tube 684 Space divider, revised 1965-1966 (36 drawings)
Tube 685 Service module system 1964-1966 (55 drawings)
Tube 674 Holiday House 1950 (8 drawings)
Howard Miller Clock Co.
Box 2 Alarm clocks 1955
Box 2 Ceramic clock 1953
Box 2 Chess clock 1959
Box 2 Chronopaks 1948, 1952, 1956, undated
Box 2 Clocknik 1959
Box 2 Portable clocks 1954, 1957
Box 2 Turbine clock 1957
Box 2 Wall clocks 1954-1957, 1959
Box 2 Clocks, miscellaneous 1947-1960 - includes clock parts, clock cases, grandfather clock, "sunburst" clock, more; also printed material and 4"x5" negatives of many clocks
Box 2 Fireplace tools and andirons 1950-1952
Box 2 Hunter Douglas 1948-1949 - exhibit; includes photographs
Tube 674 Miller's Bootery 1958 (3 drawings)
Tube 686 Memphis, Tennessee City Hall 1962 (36 drawings)
Box 2 New York Times 1954 - Cross County Center
Box 2 Pickard, Imc. 1949 - cups, plates
Box 2 Superior Electric 1949-1950 - lamps; includes photographs
Tube 679 United Airlines upholstery chair 1962-1963 (27 drawings)
Box 2 United States Information Agency 1957-1961 - exhibit
Tube 687 United States Information Agency 1966 - Industrial Design USA exhibit (45 drawings)
Box 2 Walker China Co. 1952-1953 - serving items (cruet, gravy boat, pitcher, etc.); includes photographs
Tube 690 Miscellaneous (15 drawings)

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