The Cary Graphic Arts Collection at RIT Libraries is one of the world’s premier libraries on graphic communication history and practices. Our growing library holds over 45,000 volumes and over 130 archival collections.
These collections are complemented by the Lowenthal Memorial Pressroom, which preserves a working collection of historic printing equipment, featuring the Albion printing press owned by William Morris and Frederic Goudy. The Cary Collection also houses the Graphic Design Archive, an unparalleled collection documenting the work of significant American graphic designers active from the 1920s to the 1960s, as well as selected contemporary designers working in the modernist traditions.
The Cary Collection’s original collection of 2,300 volumes was assembled by the New York City businessman Melbert B. Cary Jr. during the 1920s and 1930s. Cary was director of Continental Type Founders Association (a type-importing agency), a former president of the American Institute of Graphic Arts, and proprietor of the private Press of the Woolly Whale. His professional and personal interests in printing led him to collect printer’s manuals and type specimens, as well as great books of the printer’s art. In 1969, the Cary Collection was presented to RIT by the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust as a memorial to Mr. Cary, together with funds to support the use and growth of the collection.
Teaching with rare archival materials is central to our mission of promoting history’s value to contemporary practice in the arts, humanities, and technology. Contact Amelia Hugill-Fontanel or Steven Galbraith to schedule a class visit.
Our library facilitates research by RIT Community members, as well as researchers from around the world. Contact Amelia Hugill-Fontanel or Steven Galbraith to set up an appointment.
Expanding our library’s rich holdings of rare book and archival material. Library staff works to organize, preserve, and make our collection accessible to the world at large.
The Cary Collection regularly hosts exhibitions, lectures, and other free public programs.
Collection Development Mission
The Cary Collection is committed to building comprehensive primary and secondary resources on the history and practice of printing, the development of the alphabet and writing systems, early book formats and manuscripts, calligraphy, the development of typefaces and their manufacturing technologies, the history and practice of papermaking, typography and book design, printing and illustration processes, bookbinding, posters, and artists’ books.