Sunday, 3 October 2021
2:00 PM CST – 2:30 PM CST
RIT Cary Graphic Arts Collection is one of the world’s premier libraries on graphic communication history and practices. Our growing library holds over 45,000 volumes and over 130 archival collections. In an effort to expand coverage of global scripts, the Cary acquired a collection of some 40 fonts of Hebrew/Yiddish wood type in 2014. As the Cary focuses on telling the history of printing through original artifacts, this collection has been carefully cleaned and restored in accordance with established archival practices. Now, it is poised to serve its purpose as an accessible historical resource. Various research avenues wait to be explored through this unique collection: the development of immigrant presses in the US and their profound cultural influence on the local population; the story of the Jewish communities and the development of the Yiddish language; the Hebrew script and its transformation into movable type and the many constraints this entailed. Additionally, the various archival challenges such a collection presents are an opportunity to widen the discussion on how to maintain a collection that does not fully comply with conventional Latin alphabet schemas and, in the case of a “living archive” such as the Cary, how to make the type collection not only physically available for printing and research, but also engaging as an educational portal into a foreign script, language, and culture.
Shani Avni is the Ismar David Visiting Assistant Curator in the Cary Collection since 2020. She holds a BA in Graphic Design from Shenkar College, Israel and an MA in Typeface Design from the University of Reading, UK. For her MA thesis she researched The David Hebrew typeface family and, since receiving her degree, continues to do so. She perseveres in her efforts to make historical information available as both an academic and a practical reference.