RG10 Faculty & Staff Papers

Subgroup 11: Elaine Wickens Papers (1959-2005)

Creator: Wickens, Elaine
Title: Elaine Wickens Papers
Call #: RG10 SG11
Dates: 1959 [1969-1987] 2005
Quantity: 21 boxes (7.3 cubic feet)

Abstract: The Elaine Wickens Papers were largely created during Wickens’ professional life, in the mid to late twentieth century. The materials span her professional endeavors at Bank Street College; from her research of gay and lesbian progress in education to her extensive use of photography as a documentary and teaching medium.  Her work was collected in notes, memoranda, photographic prints, slides and negatives, audiovisual materials, and other formats.

Language of Material: English
Location: Bank Street College Archives New York, NY
Preferred Citation: Elaine Wickens Papers, Box #, Bank Street College Archives, New York, NY

Administrative History

This collection was donated to the Bank Street College Archives by Elaine Wickens in 2008 and 2009. The collection was processed by Nicole Frisone and Lindsey Wyckoff in 2012. This project was made possible in part by a grant from the Documentary Heritage Program of the New York State Archives, a program of the State Education Department.

Biographical Note

Elaine Margolis Wickens grew up in West Virginia. She received her B.A. in education from Sarah Lawrence in 1952 and her master’s from Columbia University Teachers College in 1957.  After completing her degree, Wickens worked with special needs children at the Reece School for Emotionally Disturbed Children, in the Teachers College Mental Retardation Unit, and at the Child Development Center in New York, a therapeutic nursery school. In 1960, she became the first second grade teacher at the Bank Street School for Children.

Wickens’ avid interest in photography led to her role as the photographer for Bank Street College. She documented projects she worked on for Bank Street, both on campus and off, including her time as a consultant for the Head Start and Follow Through programs. In 1968, Wickens was appointed as a field representative to the Follow Through program in Tuskegee, Alabama and lived in Nashville until 1970. During her time in Tuskegee, Wickens began working on her first books of documentary photography on children from the area. Elaine also produced films and filmstrips that utilized photographs from her travels. In 1977, Wickens spent her sabbatical studying film production and photography in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She continued to travel between New York and New Mexico for many years.

Following her husband’s death in 1981, she became more devoted to social responsibility in the classroom. She played a pioneering role in research around the children of gay and lesbian parents in the classroom, which lead her to publish a children’s book and a number of academic articles and conference presentations on the subject with her colleagues from Bank Street. Uniting her interests in the arts and in education, Wickens last official role at the College was as Director of the joint program between Bank Street and Parsons School of Design. In 2001, Wickens retired from Bank Street after nearly forty years of service.

Elaine Wickens died in New Mexico on July 19, 2014.

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of the following series:
A – Written Work
B – Prints, Contact Sheets and Negatives
C – Audiovisual Materials
D – Slides

The collection consists of the following series. Select one for further information:

  • SERIES A - Written Work

    Contains materials from Wickens’ time at Bank Street College, including memos and materials from the Follow Through and Head Start Programs and the scripts for Wickens’ filmstrips. The bulk of this material deals with Wickens’ research into Gay and Lesbian issues associated with education, in particular teaching the family and working with the children of gay and lesbian parents or gay children. This includes transcripts of interviews with parents and school administrators.

  • SERIES B – Prints, Contact Sheets and Negatives

    Contains photographs, negatives and contact sheets arranged by subject matter. The subjects covered include photographs from publications, such as Kirt’s New House, photographs of children, classrooms and teachers, many photographs from Tuskegee, Child/Parent programs, documentation of the joint program between Parsons and Bank Street, photographs from Wickens’ time in New Mexico and miscellaneous photographs which are mostly of a personal nature. The dates range from the mid-1950s to the late 1990s, though the bulk are from the 1970s.

  • SERIES C - Audiovisual Materials

    Contains cassette and VHS tapes. These recordings include Wickens’ work, including an oral history project on the history of Bank Street College and interviews for her research on gay parents and their families. They have not been played.

  • SERIES D - Slides

    Contains many slides (most labeled though some unlabeled) arranged according to subject matter. The subjects include Bank Street graduate students and School for Children students, filmstrips, New Mexico, P.S. 63 which had a joint program with Bank Street for mainstreaming special needs children, P.S. 11, P.S. 87, classrooms, teachers and children, Nuclear and Peace Education, David’s Project, architectural photography, Elaine’s photographs for the book Birds in Our World, and miscellaneous personal photographs.

Controlled Access Headings

  • Corporate Name(s)
    • Bank Street College of Education
    • Bank Street College of Education. Graduate School
    • Follow Through Program (U.S.)
    • Head Start Program (U.S.)
  • Genre(s)
    • Audio visual materials
    • Instructional and educational works
    • Notes
    • Oral histories
    • Photographs
    • Publications
    • Transcripts
  • Geographic Name(s)
    • New Mexico
    • New York (N.Y.)
    • United States
  • Personal Name(s)
    • Wickens, Elaine
  • Genre(s)
    • Child development — New York (State) — New York
    • Child development — United States — History — 20th century
    • Children of gay parents
    • Education — Study and teaching
    • Educators
    • Elementary schools — New York (State) — New York
    • Gay and lesbian studies — Study and teaching — United States
    • Photography
    • Teachers colleges — New York (State)
    • Women educators