Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Adler, Elmer, 1884-1962
Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
Elmer Adler Papers
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1651-1961 (mostly 1925-1955)
464 boxes
Storage Note:
This is stored in multiple locations. Firestone Library (scamss): Boxes 1-90; 311-362; 386-437; 463-466 ReCAP (scarcpxm): Boxes 91-310; 366-385; 438-462; 308a


Elmer Adler was a printer, publisher, editor, and author. This collection consists of the personal papers of Adler as well as the business archives of the Pynson Printers and The Colophon.

Collection Description & Creator Information


Consists of the personal papers of Adler as well as the business archives of two of his adventures in graphic arts, the Pynson Printers and The Colophon. Included is correspondence relating to his early interest in graphic arts through L. Adler Brothers & Co., a family-owned clothing manufacturer, and the Memorial Art Gallery, both of Rochester, N.Y. Subsequent career developments, outside of New York, are also documented, including Adler's tenure as Curator of Graphic Arts at Princeton (1940-1952), a department which he was instrumental in creating, his educational lecture tours, and the establishment of La Casa del Libro, a typographical museum in San Juan, Puerto Rico. There is also an autograph collection of 18th and 19th-century material, including New York and Massachusetts deeds.

The business archives of Pynson Printers, Adler's printing enterprise, consist primarily of press jobs. These jobs range from simple advertisements to complete publication and production of books and are all examples of fine printing. The progression of many of these productions, especially The Colophon, is documented through correspondence; the finances of this press is revealed through voucher files, check stubs, and numerous ledgers. The Colophon archives consist primarily of correspondence from readers, contributors, and the presses that printed many of the signatures for the earlier editions. A large part of this reflects the economic situation of the 1930s. There are also several boxes of original manuscripts and financial statements.

Adler's great personal involvement in all of his undertakings prevents a clear-cut division between his private life and business endeavors. He maintained both personal and professional relationships with important figures in the graphic arts and publishing fields, including Alfred A. Knopf, Bennett Cerf, Dard Hunter, Rockwell Kent, John T. Winterich, Al Stanford, and Arthur Sulzberger. His work, especially Breaking into Print, brought him in contact with many well-known authors, such as Willa Cather, Robert Benchley, H. L. Mencken, Christopher Morley, and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Throughout the collection there is correspondence representing many private and commercial presses and book clubs, most notably, the New York Times, Random House, the Carteret Book Club, the Grolier Club, and the Limited Editions Club.

Collection Creator Biography:

Adler, Elmer, 1884-1962

Elmer Adler was a printer, publisher, editor, and author. Born in 1884 in Rochester, New York, Adler attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, and took special courses at the University of Rochester and Harvard University. He founded The Pynson Printers (New York) in 1922, helped found Random House in 1927, and founded Colophon: A Book Collector's Quarterly in 1930 and the New Colophon in 1947. An avid collector of books and fine prints, Adler moved his collection to Princeton University in 1940, where he also established a department of graphic arts, served as a professor, and was a curator for the Princeton library. Adler died in 1962.

Collection History


Papers are a gift of the author. Letters from Adler tob Bradford are a gift of Edward W. Bradford. Letters from Adler to Kraft are a gift of James Krafy.Letters from Adler to Cohn are a gift of Herman M. Cohn. Correspondence between Adler and Stern are a gift of Bernard Pincus.Letters from Adler to McNulty are a gift of Kneeland McNulty. Letter from Adler to Marks is a gift of Russell Marks. Other letters were transfered from the Graphic Arts Collection and EX.

Custodial History

The collection was formed as a result of a departmental practice of combining into one collection manuscript material of various accessions relating to a particular author.


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

Biography written by Jessica Marati, '08.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Copyrights to the artwork and writings of Rockwell Kent are owned by the Plattsburgh College Foundation for the benefit of the Plattsburgh State Art Museum, Rockwell Kent Collection. Requests for permission to use Kent work in this collection should be sent to Cecilia Esposito, Plattsburgh State Art Museum, 101 Broad Street, Plattsburgh, NY 12901.

Credit this material:

Elmer Adler Papers; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
This is stored in multiple locations. Firestone Library (scamss): Boxes 1-90; 311-362; 386-437; 463-466 ReCAP (scarcpxm): Boxes 91-310; 366-385; 438-462; 308a