These records document primarily the history of typeface development at the Mergenthaler Linotype Company of Baltimore, Maryland. The company supplied most of the typesetting machines used in the printing industry, both in America and worldwide. As changing technology ended the usefulness of the linotype machine the company pioneered new computer-driven, photo typesetting machines.
Scope and Contents:
The collection documents the development of typefaces and contains some company business records, including reports, memoranda, correspondence, marketing materials, and other business papers; and typeface examples.
The collection is arranged into 13 series. The series level arrangement scheme was imposed during processing to facilitate a more usable order for the records. Several series documenting typeface were combined into a single series, Series 2: Typefaces.
In most instances, original folder titles were retained. In circumstances where there was no folder title, the processing archivist created one derived from the nature of the materials.
Series 1: Organizational Records, 1929-1997
Series 2: Office Files, 1908-1992
Series 3: Typefaces, 1904-1991
Subseries 3.1: Typefaces, 1923-1993
Subseries 3.2: Designers of Typeface, 1929-1987
Subseries 3.3: Technical Development of Typeface, 1933-1985
Subseries 3.4: Matrix Data for Typeface, 1923-1974
Series 13: Adobe Systems Incorporated Materials, 1983-1993
Ottmar Mergenthaler (born May 11, 1854 in Hachtel (today: Bad Mergentheim), Kingdom of Württemberg; died October 28, 1899 in Baltimore, MD) was part of a large wave of German immigrants who sailed to the United States and settled in Baltimore between 1861 and 1910. He arrived in 1872, at eighteen years of age, and started working for his step-cousin August Hahl, who ran a workshop for electrical equipment and patent models. It was during Mergenthaler's time in Hahl's workshop that he first discovered his true passion: print technology. In 1885, thirteen years after landing in the United States, Mergenthaler was awarded a patent for a typesetting machine that eventually became known as the Linotype. The invention was the result of a decade of intense engagement with mechanized typesetting machines and the surrounding literature. The Linotype represented a major milestone in the history of printing, and, by extension, the larger history of Mergenthaler's time. His invention revolutionized the printing industry, making it possible to print faster and more efficiently than ever before. Ultimately, Mergenthaler's Linotype opened a new chapter in the history of mass communication and determined the path of the printing industry for the next century.
Mergenthaler Linotype Company was founded in the United States in 1886 to market the Linotype machine invented by Ottmar Mergenthaler.
Tsaniou, Styliani. "Ottmar Mergenthaler." In Immigrant Entrepreneurship: German-American Business Biographies, 1720 to the Present, vol. 3, edited by Giles R. Hoyt. German Historical Institute. Last modified July 26, 2013. http://www.immigrantentrepreneurship.org/entry.php?rec=42
Materials at the Smithsonian Institution
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, Series: Printing and Printers
Smithsonian Institution Archives
Presentation of Mergenthaler Linotype Machine to the National Museum of History and Technology, now known as the National Museum of American History. (SIA Acc. 11-008 [OPA-1521])
Smithsonian Trade Literature Collection
Mergenthaler Linotype Company catalogs
National Postal Museum
Ottmar Mergenthaler, postage stamp, 1996. See 1997.2004.49.
Smithsonian American Art Museums
Ottmar Mergenthaler, sculpture, 1908. See IAS 08650110.
National Portrait Gallery
Ottmar Mergenthaler, sculpture, 1908. See NPG.79.77.
National Museum of African American History and Culture
Linotype Machine used by the Chicago Defender Publishing Company, 1902-1906. See NMAAHC-2012.18.
Materials at Other Organizations
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections Department
Mergenthaler Linotype Collection, 1881-1954
Eight linear feet of materials including letters, legal papers, and patents. The collection represents only a limited portion of the company's history.
University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center
Primarily of manuscript correspondence, drawings, and proofs that document typefaces designed and developed by Chauncey Hawley Griffith, William Addison Dwiggins, and Rudolph Ruzicka for the Mergenthaler Linotype Company in the early- to mid-twentieth century.
Syracuse University Libraries, Special Collections Research Center
William Addison Dwiggins Collection, 1927
Typewritten manuscript for an essay written by Dwiggins and related correspondence.
University of Maryland, Special Collections
William Addision Dwiggins Collection, 1902-1990
Includes over 130 volumes and over 30 pieces of ephemera documenting Dwiggins's design career, as well as works written about him.
New York Public Library, Manuscripts and Archives Division
Paul A. Bennett papers, 1925-1966
Personal and professional correspondence, research materials, typescripts of writings, and other papers relating to Bennett's career in advertising and his work with the Typophiles. Includes material relating to the Chap Book series, published by the Typophiles.
The Division of Culture and the Arts holds objects related to the Mergenthaler Linotype Company that include books, models, linofilm system, matrices, typecasting and typesetting machine, reports, and letters.
Donated by Mergenthaler Linotype Company in 1998 and 1999.
Collection is open for research.
Social Security numbers are present and have been rendered unreadable and redacted. Researchers may use the photocopies in the collection.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.