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Frederic W. Goudy Correspondence Collection

Identifier: MS-0546

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of correspondence from Goudy to his close friends and family. The majority of the letters are addressed to Grace Gray, a family friend who lives in Omaha, Nebraska, who lives in Goudy's deceased Aunt Alice’s home. The dated letters have been placed in alphabetical order. Letters lacking a posted date, as well as miscellaneous items, such as newspaper clippings, have been placed at the rear of the stack.

In 1939, Goudy’s printing press, the Village Letter Foundry, was destroyed by a fire and much of his work was lost. He sends a printed letter to hundreds of friends, family members, and acquaintances who sent him their condolences: “What a comfort it is to realize the wealth of friendship that is mine, to have the regard & affection of so many manifested so patently by them; it softens the blow greatly.” He mentions that he had the shop for 31 years and lost over 20 new typefaces in the fire.

Goudy frequently travels between Berkeley, Chicago, New York, and other cities giving lectures to book clubs and universities. He shares with Grace his receiving his doctorates from Syracuse University, and becoming a guest lecturer within the university’s School of Journalism. He also receives the highest honorary degree that the University of California (UC) system has to offer, commenting to Grace, “Pretty nice for a mere high school graduate without any college or university training?” Several book clubs, including the Grolier Club, grant him awards and permanent memberships.

His association with Grace becomes increasingly intimate. One early letter highlights his desire for a closer affiliation: “Is there any way I can make you stop addressing me as ‘Mr.’ – why can’t I be just ‘Fred’ instead?” He invites Grace to social events and fairs, often pressing her on the matter: “We’re not getting younger, you know.” His travels frequently send him through Omaha, allowing him to visit Grace regularly. In one letter, he writes, “I love you and wouldn’t do anything to hurt you.”

Another acquaintance often mentioned in his letters to Grace is Florence Elizabeth. In 1940, Goudy arranges for Florence and Grace to meet in a hotel in Omaha: “You’ll know her by her smiling countenance and golden brown hair, and you’ll like her.” He also adds, “I remember you said you were going to ‘make her jealous’ so go to it.”

Goudy often reflects on his life and updates Grace on his current projects and endeavors. In one letter, he shares how his 29-year old son, Frederic T. Goudy, works in his shop but lacks the desire to follow in his footsteps; he wants to construct radios instead. Goudy also comments on his sister, Josie’s, preference to travel by airplane: “Things have certainly changed since she lived on a Dakota prairie and travelled by horse and wagon.” Goudy publishes a new book, Hypologia, which he sends a copy of to Grace and agrees to sign it when he visits Omaha. He is also working on a new “American” type for book use, which will be showcased in new publication of Rip Van Winkle.

He often writes about his failing health, from illnesses to physical injuries. In one letter, he apologizes to Grace for not writing more frequently due to recently tearing the ligaments in his right arm after slipping on the lower step of a street car: “The surgeon says I’ll never have more than 50% use of it again.” A growing fatigue becomes increasingly prevalent in his letters to Grace.

There are a few miscellaneous items, namely newspaper clippings, with information pertaining to Goudy’s professional achievements. One piece comments on Goudy’s early success in typography, having won acclaim with his type used in H.G. Wells’ 1911 book of short stories. One Nebraska newspaper article, entitled “Here, Mr. Goudy is One of Your 110 Type Faces,” writes on Goudy’s frequent visits to Miss Gray’s home in Omaha.


  • Creation: 1929-1946


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright interests in some or all of these materials have not been transferred to San Diego State University. Copyright resides with the creator(s) of materials contained in the collection or their heirs. The nature of archival collections is such that multiple creators are often applicable and copyright status may be difficult or even impossible to determine. In any case, the user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, obtaining publication rights and copyright infringement. When requesting images from Special Collections & University Archives for publication, we require a signed agreement waiving San Diego State University of any liability in the event of a copyright violation.

Biographical Note

Frederic Goudy was born March 8, 1865, in Bloomington, Illinois. He was an American printer and type designer whose typefaces include Copperplate Gothic, Goudy Old Style, and Kennerley. He was widely known for the success of his typefaces between 1915 and 1940, and often gave speeches regarding his passion for letter forms.

He was married to Bertha Matilda Sprinks, a typographer and fine press printer, from 1897 until her death in 1935. Frederic Goudy died on May 11, 1947, in Marlborough, New York.


0.20 Linear Feet

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Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections & University Archives Repository

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San Diego CA 92182-8050 US