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Dr. Ellen Swartz collection

 Collection — Object: Wooden highchair
Identifier: RITArc-0719

Scope and Contents

Collection is one wooden high chair created by Ellen Swartz around 1970 for her son that measures 30" h x 12" w x 21" deep. The chair is made of stacked plywood laminate and stained. Documentation of her work includes 85 photographic prints of finished pieces, 2 small maquettes of chairs she created, seven sketches, an exhibit catalog for "Language of Wood" and published articles by and about Ellen and her work as a furniture maker. In 1977, she wrote an article in Fine Woodworking magazine titled "Stacked Plywood: A fluid alternative to hardwood" in which she explains her reasons for using the stacked plywood method of making furniture. Included in the collection are numerous correspondence to Ellen from people all over the country who read the article and were excited about her work.

Added to the collection are 356 slides and digital images of Ellen's woodworking projects; including furniture - chairs, tables, stands, magazine racks, and lamps.


  • Creation: 1970-1980

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to all researchers.

Biographical / Historical

Dr. Ellen Eve Swartz (1945-2018) was born in Syracuse on June 25, 1945. She went to Eastman School of Music for violin until she was about 21, but left to make and repair violins instead. She was accepted at Rochester Institute of Technology into the School of American Craftsmen's woodworking program in 1964. When she graduated in 1966 she was one of the first female graduates of the woodworking program to earn an A.A.S. degree. Dr. Swartz worked for the Rochester City School district as an industrial arts teacher and made furniture to sell at Ten Arrow Gallery in Boston.

Dr. Swartz went on to earn her master’s degree in Counseling from SUNY Brockport in 1988. In 1994 she earned a Master’s of Education from University of Rochester and stayed on to earn her Doctorate of Education two years later. Her career in teaching took her to Pace University for two years, Niagara University for a year, and then Nazareth College for six years. Dr. Swartz published numerous books and articles, and never stopped working on her furniture and woodworking projects on the side for fun.


3 Box(es) (One lid box & one document box, 1/2 doc box and a high chair that stands alone)




Collection includes a wooden plywood high chair created by Dr. Swartz, maquettes, numerous photographs taken of furniture pieces she created, biographical materials, and several articles documenting her body of woodworking accomplishments.


Collectionn is arranged my material type.

Physical Location

C.S. North, Shelf 28 - High chair

C.S. North, Shelf 172 - Boxes 1-3

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Collection was donated to RIT Archives in February 2019 by Joel Swartz.

Processing Information

Finding aid was created by Jody Sidlauskas in March 2019.

In Progress
Taylor Carpenter/Jody Sidlauskas
March 1, 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the RIT Archives Repository

Rochester NY 14623 USA