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RANDOM NOTES ON THE ORIGIN OF THE COLLEGE PRESSES  
The founders of the HONORABLE COMPANY OF COLLEGE PRINTERS, apparently unconcerned with immortality and secure in the belief that the Company's illustrious record would become a matter of public knowlege, chose no scribe and made no provision for any chronicle of their proceedings or deliberations. The history here presented has been compiled over a fifteen-year period from a number of sources--chiefly from the files of the Masters' offices, the scrapbooks of the printing-shops, and the personal records and correspondence of two of the Company's primary godfathers, Carl A. Lohmann, Secretary of the University from 1927 to 1953, and Clarence W. Mendell, the first Master Printer of Branford College. There is, in the archives, a nearly-complete series of the keepsakes which have been printed over the years.

This pamphlet, a keepsake for the 30th Anniversary Wayzgoose held in Timothy Dwight College on May 10, 1967, is presented to the Company with the compliments of the Yale University Press.

GEORGE D. VAILL
Historian pro tempore
New Haven, Connecticut
April 1967


RANDOM NOTES ON THE ORIGIN OF THE COLLEGE PRESSES

The JONATHAN EDWARDS COLLEGE PRESS proclaims, with justifiable pride, that it was "founded in 1936 by August Heckscher." In the spring of that year, Mr. Heckscher gave his 12x18 Chandler & Price press and his type to the College. Later, believing that a smaller size would be better for student printers, he arranged with his classmate, Thomas W. Hall, Jr., to trade the 12x18 for a 10x15 press. Other members of the Class of 1936 raised, as a gift to J.E., funds to cover the shipping charges and incidentals. Mr. Heckscher recalls that the press "Began working that next fall, though the announcement of the founding came a bit later, when the first printer had mastered his trade. I did a small book of verse "Noon of Summer" at the J.E. press in the early winter of 1937, a refugee from the constrictions of the Law School."

In 1939, a pamphlet was printed by the BRANFORD COLLEGE PRESS for an exhibition of undergraduate printing arranged by the Jared Eliot Association. In an article entitled "History of College Printing," Robert Dudly French, the Master of Jonathan Edwards, wrote:

"In the spring of 1936, the Master of Timothy Dwight began to make his plans for opening a printing office in his College. At the same time, August Heckscher, of the Class of 1936, was urging a similar enterprise upon the Master of Jonathan Edwards. Himself an enthusiast for the art of printing, with a distinguished record behind him as an amateur of the craft, Mr. Heckscher was in a position to confirm Mr. Rogers and myself in our opinion that it was possible to stimulate an interest in the Colleges in good printing and that it was not unreasonable to hope for work of high quality from young men whose principal interests were engaged in regular college work. Under his encouragement the plans for establishing presses in these two Colleges went forward with a surer confidence of success.

"During the following summer a printing press that had long served Professor Haggard, a Fellow of Timothy Dwight, in the pursuit of his hobby was moved from his house in Woodbridge to a room in the College, and early in the fall term three undergraduates, no one of whom had ever set a line of type before, were turning out work of very gratifying quality from the printing office of Timothy Dwight College. Toward the end of November, Jonathan Edwards opened its printing office in the charming little house at the end of the court which had formerly served the purposes of the landscape department. A rebuilt press, purchased on highly favorable terms from the father of Thomas Hall of the Class of 1936, was installed, with other equipment, as a gift from members of that class. The generosity of Mr. Heckscher, who gave of his time as of his money, enabled the office to begin operation under the regular supervision of a born teacher of the craft, and the appointment of Bruce Sweet, 1937, as the first Master Printer brought to the services of the Jonathan Edwards press a man who had been trained under Mr. Carl Rollins and had a genuine flare for his work.

"Branford College was not slow to follow suit. Mr. Mendell had himself pursued the art of printing since he was in his early teens and could give his printing office the added advantage of his own enthusiasm and experience. Through the cooperation of Bruce Sweet, he secured a press for Branford College which had been used by Mr. Sweet and his brother in an enterprise of their own. This venerable piece of machinery, boasting some gadgets that must certainly be unique, had been built to send out to China to print tracts for the missionaries, but had proved too heavy to send on so long and expensive a journey. Though it will probably soon be replaced, as has Mr. Haggard's press of Timothy Dwight, with something more up-to-date, it has done good service, in spite of its fourscore years, and a sight of the almost human ingenuity with which it goes about its business will repay a visit to the printing office of Branford College.

"Like all campus institutions that have flourished through the better part of one college generation, the printing offices at Branford, Timothy Dwight, and Jonathan Edwards already have traditional antiquity in the eyes of underclassmen, and any Freshman who happens to have heard of the Company of College Printers probably believes it was founded by President Ezra Stiles at the instigation of Benjamin Franklin."

In the TIMOTHY DWIGHT COLLEGE PRESS there is "A Scrapbook of Printing" which contains a small piece of paper bearing the historic message: THIS IS A SAMPLE OF THE FIRST TYPE PRINTED AT TIMOTHY DWIGHT. SEPTEMBER 26, 1936." (A hand-written note in the margin says: "The first serious attempt after random [sic] printing of cuts in new-toy-like curiosity.")

Also in (of all places) the T.D. scrapbook is a program produced "At the Printing Office of Jonathan Edwards" for a piano recital given in J.E. On December 13--presumably (if one can judge by its position in the book) in the year 1936.

In the archives of The Honorable Company of College Printers is a piece which says: "ANNOUNCING THE FOUNDING OF A PRINTING OFFICE IN JONATHAN EDWARDS COLLEGE, YALE UNIVERSITY, JANUARY 1937."

The University's Bursary Committee, in the first instance of its assigning of students to specific duties as printers in college printing-shops, appointed Bruce Sweet and Harry H. Mitchell, '39, Printers to Jonathan Edwards in the academic year 1936-1937.

For the academic year 1937-1938, the Bursary Committee appointed Thomas F. Wilson, '38 E, Printer to Timothy Dwight. (The T.D. scrapbook, however, lists Wilson and Gerald A. Hutchinson, '39 E, as "printers during the year 1936-1937.")

The Committee's first appointments for the Branford College Press were those of Herbert P. Galliher, Jr., '40, and Owen Richards, '40 S. for the year 1937-1938. (The records of the College, on the other hand, list Donald R. Levy, '38 S. as the first Chief Printer.)

On February 23, 1937, the "Chapter of Journeyman Printers of Timothy Dwight College" printed and sent to "the newly founded Printing Office of Jonathan Edwards College" felicitations from "the Ancient and Established Press" of T.D.

Whatever the evidence may be concerning the establishment of the first press, there is no disputing the fact that Branford was third in line, to be followed by Silliman in 1941, Pierson in 1948, Berkeley in 1952, Morse-Ezra Stiles (a joint operation with the press located in Morse) in 1962, and Davenport in 1967. All but one of the shops began with letterpress equipment; Timothy Dwight, Jonathan Edwards, and Branford have added offset presses; Morse-Ezra Stiles has only offset.


Originally printed at the Carl Purington Rollins Printing-Office of the Yale
University Press, 1967. Reprinted (and slightly abridged) with permision
of the Yale University Press.

Go to the History of the Honorable Company of College Printers go


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