Rob Roy Kelly research









All of my research projects began with personal curiousity which could not be satisfied because there was no body of information on the subject. The wood type research began with questions about wood type that I had purchased from local printers to be used by students. Students wanted to know how and when it was made and the names for different styles. I told them that on my next trip to New York City I would find the answers to their questions. I went to Special Collections at Columbia University as they had one of the largest collections of type specimen books. I found wood type specimen books but no information regarding who made it or how and when it was manufactured. I spoke with Dr. Ronald Baughman, the Director. He told me there were no books, and perhaps I should write one. That was the beginning of the project.

Beginning during 1957, I began making a portfolio of the wood type in my collection. I checked Leslie Paper Company for an appropriate paper that was cheap. They had a large amount of 17x22 100 pound, wove finish, Hammermill paper in the bone pile which they made available to me at a greatly reduced price.



The research was done with Henry E. Huntington Library in Pasadena, the New York Public Library and the Newerry Library in Chicago. During the summer months, I went into the photo lab and made all my visual materials. In between, I was pecking away on the typewriter putting together a manuscript. Periodically, I would cut the manuscript into sections to insert new or rewritten materials or move sections around into a more logical order. Then I would retype the manuscript It was a lengthly and painful process. However, no matter how time consuming, I found the research process especially rewarding for me.

I sold the wood type to Dr. Bernard Karpel, librarian at the Museum of Modern Art during the late 1960s because I did not have proper storage conditions or security, He in turn sold it to the University of Texas where it now is a Study Collection available to scholars at the university library. My personal library was sold in 1975. I believe most of my books ended up in the library at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas.