item 5 - Carl Levine interview, 1986 December 16

Open original Digital object

Identity area

Reference code



Carl Levine interview, 1986 December 16


  • 1986 December 16 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

MPEG file: 30.6 MiB; 22 minutes, 19 seconds. Original Media Format: Cassette

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Carl Levine was born in 1929 in Bloomingdale, NJ, and died in his Manhattan apartment in 2004. Levine started in the home furnishings business working for his family's junior department store. After making market visits to Bloomingdale's for work, Levine became interested in the innovations he was seeing at the large department store and he joined the company in 1955. Starting as an assistant mattress buyer, Levine was promoted within the home furnishings department, eventually becoming the Sr. Vice President of the department in 1979, a position which he still held in 1986. Levine played a large role in Bloomingdale's development of period reproduction furniture and worked closely with Barbara D'arcy in the creation of Bloomingdale's themed model rooms. This interview was conducted by Estelle Ellis, founder of Business, Inc., a business market research firm.

Name of creator


Biographical history

Estelle Ellis was born on November 12, 1919 in Brooklyn, New York. After graduating from Hunter College in 1940, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and a minor in Journalism, Ellis began a career in publishing. Ellis was crucial in the founding of Seventeen magazine in 1943, assisting Helen Valentine with design and advertising for the magazine. In 1958, Ellis founded Business Image, Incorporated, a creative marketing firm that stressed the importance of market and product positioning. Her company worked primarily with Condé Nast publications but other businesses, such as Yves Saint-Laurent Fragrances, Evan-Picone, AT&T, and Scoville, hired Business Image as well. Beginning in the mid-1960s, Ellis began working with the Fashion Institute of Technology, creating programs and fundraising campaigns to help with financial support. During the 1990s, Ellis focused on writing, co-authoring At Home with Books: How Booklovers Live With and Care for Their Libraries (1995), At Home with Art: How Art Lovers Live With and Care for Their Treasures (1999), and The Booklover's Repair Kit: First Aid for Home Libraries (2000). Estelle Ellis passed away on July 12, 2012.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Carl Levine describes his early years in the home furnishings business working for his small family business before talking about his start at Bloomingdale's. The Sr. VP of Home Furnishings at the time of this interview, Levine traces the major developments of the Home Furnishings department at Bloomingdale's throughout his 30 years at the department store. Describing the department as "having trouble" when he arrived in 1955, Levine speaks at length about Bloomingdale's decision to manufacture exclusive product overseas with a special attention towards accurate period reproductions. He then talks about working with Barbara D'arcy, the creator of Bloomingdale's innovative model rooms in the 1960s. Levine, who studied furniture and crafts and design at Syracuse University as well as the NY School of Interior Design, addresses the role of education in grooming a successful executive, especially in regards to understanding the history of fashion and design. In talking about Bloomingdale's CEO Marvin S. Traub, Levine describes his strong family life, his essential role as a diplomat in the creation of the country promotions, and his tireless determination and sense of humor. Finally, Levine addresses the concept of the "Bloomingdale's customer", taking into account the increasing number of Bloomingdale's stores across various regions.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling

Tape skips at 7:23, and resumes in the middle of a sentence at 7:30, and does a lot of jumping between 19:20 and the end of the recording at 22:16. The jumps are large enough and frequent enough so as to make the conversation basically incomprehensible after 19:20.


System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Related descriptions

Notes area

Alternative identifier(s)

Access points

Place access points

Name access points

Genre access points

Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used


Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion




Archivist's note

This was originally part of a larger recording that includes the Julian Tomchin interview

Digital object (Master) rights area

Digital object (Reference) rights area

Digital object (Thumbnail) rights area

Accession area

Related people and organizations

Related genres

Related places