Docent Program

Docent Program

We are launching our long-awaited docent program!

Docent Program



Letterform Archive hosts tours that enable our visitors to explore and interact with a curated selection of books, periodicals, posters, sketches, original art for reproduction, and related ephemera that chronicle the history of written communication. From the invention of writing and medieval manuscripts to modernism, the advent of print to the proliferation of digital type, our collection tells the story of civilization through graphic design.

The Docent Program

Our docent program is one way to dive deeper. Sign up for one year of volunteer hosting 2–4 tours a month to share your new-found knowledge, curiosity, and inspiration with the public, and you get two free college-level courses, countless opportunities to do your own research with our collection, and a new circle of letterform-nerdy friends! For the details of the curriculum and expectations, see below. Application due June 15, 2021 at 11:59 PM PT.

Get up close and personal with our collection.

Program Perks

Perks during training
  • A cohort of type, design, and art geeks
  • A deep-dive into type and graphic history through the lens of the Letterform Archive collection
  • Behind-the-scenes tours of the stacks
  • A glimpse of Archive careers
Perks upon training completion
  • Letterform Archive docent certificate
  • Unlimited research visits (an LfA standard)
  • College-level courses (college students may take these for credits as approved by their school program)
  • Regular LfA Membership while an active docent (minimum of one year)
  • Optional presentation of one's own research via LfA editorial spaces (blog, social media, Salon)

By the Numbers

15-month Program
3 months (12 weeks) of training:
  • 2 virtual classes per week (3–5 hours of in-class time)
  • 4–6 on-site training visits (subject to change re: COVID-19)
  • 2 courses (which college students may take for credits as approved by their school program):
    • Docent Training Lecture Series: Type and Graphic Design History Through the Lens of the Letterform Archive Collection
    • Docent Training Workshop Series: Intro to Archiving, Public Speaking, and Researching at Letterform Archive
1 year of giving tours:
  • 2–4 tours per month (3–6 hours of speaking with the public)
  • 60,000 items you can get to know and present
  • dozens of LfA programs you will have free access to
Let your curiosity lead you through our collection.
  • May 18, 2021 — Application opens
  • May 25, 2021 12:00 PM PT — Info Session 1
  • June 8, 2021 5:00 PM PT — Info Session 2
  • June 15, 2021 11:59 PM PT — Application closes
  • June 18, 2021 — Applicants informed
  • July 6, 2021 — First day of classes
  • Sept 30, 2021 — Last day of classes, Docent Certificated Awarded
  • Oct 1, 2021 — Docent year begins
  • Oct 1, 2022 — Docent year ends

The Curriculum

Docent Training Lecture Series
Type and Graphic Design History Through the Lens of the Letterform Archive Collection
  1. Welcome + Introduction to the History of Collecting
  2. Western Scripts before Gutenberg
  3. Gutenberg, Renaissance Printing, & Writing Manuals
  4. Designs of the Industrial Revolution
  5. Arts & Crafts, Art Nouveau, Art Deco
  6. Avant-Garde Typography
  7. International Style, Mid-Century Modernism, Corporate Identity & Brand Manuals
  8. History & Materiality of Artists' Books
  9. Protest & Design
  10. Phototype, Letraset, & the Indiependent Publishing Revolution
  11. Postmodernism, “Grunge” Typography, & the Digital Age
  12. Global Scripts & Typography
Docent Training Workshop Series
Intro to Archiving, Public Speaking, and Researching at Letterform Archive
  1. Defining your approach to collections and docent-hood
  2. Improv & stage fright
  3. Exploring your own interests + set your first table on the OA
  4. Career profiles (visits from LfA staff)
  5. Question building for engagement
  6. Exploring the collection virtually / Glossary building
  7. Presenting sensitive materials / Considering accessibility
  8. Materials training 1 —  best practices in data
  9. Exploring the collection: down the rabbit hole
  10. Materials training 2 — best practices in handling
  11. Preparing for your first tour
  12. Giving your first tour!
Our Docents (You?!)

A great candidate for our docent program is an adult of any age or life stage. Docents must be able to commit to 3 months of training (3–6 hours a week) and at least one additional year of giving virtual and/or in-person tours (3–6 hours a month) to the public. Docents should be driven by inquiry, excited by community, and inspired by our collection! No previous experience in design, typography, art, or public speaking is required. Applicants who reside outside the Bay Area are welcome!

Still have Questions?

Visit the FAQ page or get in touch with sair goetz, Collections Programming Manager
+1 415 745 9625


Application due June 15, 2021 at 11:59 PM PT.

The Archive Through Visitors’ Eyes