David Shields

The Rob Roy Kelly Wood Type Collection, a study collection held at the University of Texas at Austin is comprised of wood type manufactured and used for printing in the United States during the nineteenth century, gathered from the late 1950s to the mid-1960s by the noted design educator, collector, and historian Rob Roy Kelly (1925–2004). During the 1960s and 1970s, Kelly’s published research — including _American Wood Type 1828–1900_ (1969) — helped fuel a revival of interest in nineteenth-century American printing types. His work continues to be an important starting point for current scholarly inquiry.

The University of Texas Press published a monograph I researched, wrote, and designed _The Rob Roy Kelly American Wood Type Collection: A History and Catalog_ which functions as a ‘close’ reading of the collection. I’ve approached the collection as more than simply the 18,000+ pieces of wood type acquired by Kelly and dynamically define it in broader terms as a range of objects, publications, research papers, and attendant activities in a number of archives around the United States. Viewing the collection broadly has provided the opportunity to look past Kelly as the sole instigator and investigator and perceive him as a link in the broader network of relationships that led to the success of his research project.

David Shields is an Associate Professor of Graphic Design in the School of the Arts, at VCU in Richmond. His practice is an interchange between making form and writing words. Research ties together these two generative methods and is comprised of close readings of primary and secondary sources as well as direct engagement with physical objects and artifacts of the production processes from the nineteenth century. He is the author and designer of the monograph _The Rob Roy Kelly American Wood Type Collection: A History and Catalog_, published by UT Press.