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Ritter, Mortimer C.
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Dean Marion Brandriss interview, 1984 December 19

This is an interview with Dean Marion Brandriss, who retired from the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.) in 1973. Brandriss explains her work as an English teacher and how she came to work at the City High School of Needle Trades where she met Mortimer Ritter. Brandriss explains how Ritter hand-picked his favorite instructors to help him build what would become the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.). She discusses touring high schools in the spring of 1944 to recruit students for the inaugural class, and offering incentives such as a weekly scholarship to all prospective students. Brandiss started at the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.) as the Director of Admissions, but elucidates the vast scope of work she and the small team were expected to take on. Brandriss describes the student body demographics, transitioning settings, and evolving admissions policies of the Institute as it continued to grow. Brandriss then explains how departments were added and goes into depth on the particular success of the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.)?s Fashion Buying and Merchandising Department. Brandriss ends the interview with a recollection of Mortimer Ritter?s insistence on the Institute?s name, saying that he wanted it to resemble that of M.I.T. in sound and flavor.

Eleanor Fried interview, 1984 November 29

Eleanor Fried, the first head of the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.)’s placement office, discusses her upbringing and the circumstances that led her to the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.) in 1947, shortly after its founding. She describes the early academic departments at the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.) and its demographics. Fried then details the institute’s successful management program and how the placement office went about developing close relationships with department stores and other employers in the Industry. Fried emphasizes the vocational maturity of many of the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.)’s two-year graduates, but explains that some students chose to go on to four-year degrees elsewhere. While the placement department was extremely successful in placing most students, it was severely understaffed; so Fried often ended up employing students to help with outreach. She explains how she stayed in contact with alumni and asked for their ongoing input regarding the school’s curriculum. Fried then describes the positive changes brought about by affirmative action, especially in regards to staffing her office. She finishes the interview by describing a book she published following her retirement as well as two she wrote while at the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.) including, “Is The Fashion Business Your Business?”

Interview of Christine Pupillo, Leonard Trattner, and Harry Greenberg of the Patternmaking Department, 1995 February 27

This is an interview with three professors of the patternmaking department at FIT: Christine Pupillo, Leonard Trattner, and Harry Greenberg. At the time of the interview, Trattner was chair of the department. Greenberg started at FIT in 1947 and describes an incident that occurred during the Board of Education’s two-day exam, which was a prerequisite to patternmaking instruction. The three delve into FIT’s uniquely specialized program wherein students learn to make slopers. Trattner, a 9th generation textile worker, started as an FIT student in 1964. He discusses his upbringing and life-long connection to the garment industry. They talk about what the union has done for the industry at large and innovations of their department, including classes taught in foreign languages for international students. The three discuss the department’s highly successful VFI program which brings in students who have dropped out of high school or had minor encounters with law enforcement. Greenberg and Pupillo describe their experiences as first-generation immigrants, how that experience often relates to their students, and their own very early starts in the garment industry. As most faculty do, they remain involved in the industry to stay abreast of technological advancements. Greenberg talks about meeting his wife and how he came to be recruited for his initial position. The three discuss the minutiae of patternmaking and the skills their students take to the field. They then talk about changes in student demographics and their hopes for an upper division. Finally, they discuss the Irving Curtis Scholarship Fund and the Harry Greenberg Scholarship Fund, as well as the scholarship provided by Symphony Fabrics.

Trattner, Leonard

Interview of Rosalind Snyder, 1984 November 1

Rosalind Snyder, Founder Dean Emeritus 1944-1963 of FIT, discusses the Institute’s inception at the Central High School of Needle Trades, it’s founding vision, and it’s progression to a college-level institution. Snyder describes the educational trajectory that led to her initial post as Assistant Director alongside Dr. Mortimer Ritter at the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.). She describes the early demographics of students and the evolution of the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.)’s curriculum and educational policy, detailing close relationships with the fashion industry itself. Snyder discusses the spirit of collaboration and creativity in the early days of the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.), listing founding educators and innovators who helped the Institute flourish. Snyder pays particular attention to the 1950s wherein the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.) found a home on 27th street and, in 1951, was authorized as a community college; cementing its status as an academic institution of note. Snyder retired from her post in 1963, but asserts her continued belief in the permanence of the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.)’s unique vision of creative exploration.

Norman Goodman interview, 1985 February 8

This interview is with Norman Goodman, son of one of the original Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.) founders, Abe Goodman. Norman discusses his father’s emigration from Romania and subsequent start in the garment business at age 11. Abe’s ascension in the garment business was swift, and he established A. Goodman Company in 1932. Norman describes the company’s set-up, and his father’s decision to largely employ fellow immigrants. In the 1940s, Abe introduced his son to Dr. Mortimer Ritter. Norman explains his own decision to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.) in order to manage his father’s business. He describes his time at school and the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.)’s efforts to make a name for itself via a trade show set up by Arthur Tarsius. Norman graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.) in 1948, but eventually chose to move into real estate. By the 1960s, Abe Goodman had liquidated his garment manufacturing business but continued working with others in the industry such as Mollie Parnis.

The Reminiscences of Theodore Fred Kuper, 1967 September 29 and 1969 August 15

Articles and interview of Theodore Fred Kuper about the origins of the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.), conducted by the Oral History Research Office of Columbia University in 1969. "These reminiscences of Theodore Fred Kuper refer to the creation and development of the Fashion Institute of Technology, a Community College of the City of New York under the program of the University of the State of New York, together with the creation of the Educational Foundation for the Fashion Industry. The tape recording of these recollections was started on September 29, 1967 by Lionel White, Fashion Institute, serving as recorder for Columbia University Oral History Office and continued from time to time in California by Mr. Kuper until completion on August 15, 1969." Kuper describes the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.)'s roots in the immigrant-run garment industry. He details early leaders in its development, and how, under the leadership of personalities such as Shirley Goodman, they sought support and funding to expand the institution's reputation and place in New York City.

Columbia University Center for Oral History Research