Letterform Archive – Uncovering the History of Early Women Type Designers


Uncovering the History of Early Women Type Designers

Uncovering the History of Early Women Type Designers
with Lauren Elle DeGaine

Co-presented by Book Arts & Special Collections, San Francisco Public Library
Online Lecture at Letterform Archive
Tue, Jun 21, 2022
12:00pm–1:30pm PT

According to typographer Walter Tracy, the emergence of type design as a profession occurred around the beginning of the twentieth century. At this time, Tracy says, the work of creating letterforms transitioned from being a "craft" to being an "industry." This transition marked the beginning of an era that produced typefaces “from which a standard of quality has been developed and widely understood.”

Many will recognize the famous names from this era: Bruce Rogers, Morris Benton, Frederic Goudy. But who were the women working during this important period of typographic history? Who were the women who created metal typefaces, prior to the advent of computers? This was the question Lauren Elle DeGaine asked herself in 2017, as a novice letterpress printer in a tiny print shop on the west coast of British Columbia. The question became the foundation for her Masters research, and during this talk Elle will share the results of that research: 10 women designers, 14 typefaces, a small collection of rare metal type, a discussion on digital revivals, and an invitation to consider the gendered social and labor dynamics surrounding “a woman’s type.”

This and all Letterform Lectures are a public aspect of the Type West postgraduate certificate program. Register to attend remotely.

About Lauren Elle DeGaine

Lauren Elle DeGaine graduated with a Masters in English from the University of Victoria in 2021. Her SSHRC-funded research project, “A Woman’s Type: Early Women Type Designers in 20th-Century Book History,” was recently digitized by UVic Libraries and is available online for free to the public here.

Lauren has been a letterpress enthusiast since her first print shop experience during undergrad (Naropa University, 2013). A lot of her research over the years has focused on anti-patriarchal literary analysis, so her project on early women type designers was a natural fit for her research interests and passion for beautiful printing.

Lauren currently lives on the west coast of Canada and, since graduating, has been working as a researcher in the public service.

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