Designer Biographies

Welcome! Forums Research Type Designers Designer Biographies


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November 16, 2015 at 2:29 AM #25896


The Type Heritage Project [THP] builds biographies of 19th-century type designers from monographs, trade journal articles, etc. and US design patent records. For example, the one about Andreas V. Haight was compiled from trade periodicals, on-line newspaper archives, and some lucky “sneak peeks” at

Much more may be learned about the lives of these men from vital statistics. In the US, certificates of birth, death, marriage and divorce are maintained by the states or counties where the event occurred.

From time to time (perhaps a recurring USPTO policy?), patent affidavits stated citizenship of the applicant even when it is known that he was born in the US. When an immigrant professes US citizenship, it is useful to learn that naturalization occurred sometime before the application date.

Besides patents, the US government manages immigration, naturalization, passport, military and census records. The same information is available from governments in Europe and the UK. Research of this kind is considered genealogical even when the subject is not one’s own ancestor.

Are you a US resident and least 14 years old? If so, you are eligible to become a “card-carrying researcher” at the US National Archives [NARA].

NARA maintains federal records dating back to 1800. You may visit in person at many branch locations; there is no cost for use of this resource. It is also possible to download digital copies of certain documents (cost unknown).

Obituaries of (high-profile) type producers of the period are abundant; of the real heroes, designers/punch-cutters, extremely scarce. The only one known to THP is about Herman Ihlenburg, and it was published in German.

These websites offer comprehensive sources for all such research including obituaries:

  • The US Gen Web Project, committed to free information*
  •, 14-day free trial (plan your research project accordingly!). A better solution: Many public libraries are equipped with unlimited access to this resource.
  •, 14-day free trail (plan your research project accordingly!).

*As a test, I discovered marriage and child records for Carl/Charles E. Heyer.

There is a l-o-n-g list of designers about whom little is known. Additional personal information about their personal lives will be a valuable contribution to type history. Your work will be greatly appreciated by THP AND duly credited!

If you are willing to tackle the biography of a designer who interests you, please respond below…


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