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Finding Aid to the Adrian Wilson Papers, 1884-1993 (bulk 1941-1988)
BANC MSS 81/151 c  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Information
  • Scope and Content of Collection

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: Adrian Wilson papers
    Date (inclusive): 1884-1993
    Date (bulk): 1941-1988
    Collection Number: BANC MSS 81/151 c
    Creators: Wilson, Adrian
    Extent: Number of containers: 16 boxes, 20 cartons, 15 oversize boxes, 4 oversize folders, 3 volumes Linear feet: 35
    Repository: The Bancroft Library.
    University of California, Berkeley
    Berkeley, CA 94720-6000
    Phone: (510) 642-6481
    Fax: (510) 642-7589
    Email: bancref@library.berkeley.edu
    URL: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/
    Abstract: The Adrian Wilson Papers, 1884-1993, document Wilson's personal and professional life as a fine art printer. Despite a lack of formal training, Wilson founded a respected fine press, The Press at Tuscany Alley, and his work is well documented in this collection. Included are client files, designs, and mockups. In addition to the Papers, The Bancroft Library holds a significant collection of Wilson's published works and ephemera that have been cataloged separately within the library's general collection. The Papers give great insight into Wilson as an individual, and include personal correspondence and journals. Family papers extend to Wilson's parents, Adrian P. and Christine Wilson and the papers of his wife, Joyce Lancaster.
    Languages Represented: Collection materials are in English
    Physical Location: Many of the Bancroft Library collections are stored offsite and advance notice may be required for use. For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.

    Information for Researchers

    Access

    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Materials in this collection may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.). In addition, the reproduction of some materials may be restricted by terms of University of California gift or purchase agreements, donor restrictions, privacy and publicity rights, licensing and trademarks. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owner. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.
    All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from, or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley 94720-6000. See: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/reference/permissions.html .

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Adrian Wilson Papers, BANC MSS 81/151 c, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley

    Alternate Forms Available

    There are no alternate forms of this collection.

    Related Collections

    Printing and book designing: oral history transcript/ Adrian Wilson, BANC MSS C-D 4101
    Adrian Wilson printed ephemera, 1944-1987, TYP z239.3.w54
    Adrian Wilson photograph collection, BANC PIC 1981.093--PIC

    Separated Material

    Printed materials have been transferred to the book collection of The Bancroft Library.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog
    Wilson, Adrian
    Wilson, Joyce Lancaster
    Press in Tuscany Alley
    Printers--California--San Francisco
    Printing--California--History

    Administrative Information

    Acquisition Information

    The Adrian Wilson Papers were given to The Bancroft Library by Adrian Wilson in 1981. Additions were made by Joyce Lancaster Wilson in 1989 and 1993 and by Melissa and Craig Marshall in 2000.

    Accruals

    No additions are expected.

    System of Arrangement

    Arranged to the folder level.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Mary L. Morganti, with assistance from Professor Emeritus Robert Harlan, in 1998; completed by Teresa Mora in 2007.

    Biographical Information

    Adrian Wilson was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan on July 1, 1923 to Dutch immigrants, Adrian P., a horticulturist at the University, and Christine Wilson. When Adrian was seven years old, Adrian P. Wilson moved the family to Amherst, Massachusetts, where he worked at Smith College.
    Adrian graduated high school in 1941 and went onto study at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. However, his studies were cut short by World War II and he was drafted in 1943. Possibly due to the influence of his mother, a pacifist, Adrian registered as a conscientious objector (CO) and was sent to a Civilian Public Service camp in upstate New York. Throughout the course of the war, he worked at a number of different camps, finally finding himself in Waldport, Oregon. It was in Waldport, at a camp that had been established for artists and craftsmen, that he first began his printing career, printing the camp newsletter, the Compass, on a platen press. Working to plant trees as part of a reforestation project during the day, the COs spent their leisure time pursuing the arts, producing plays and concerts. It was also at Waldport that Adrian met his future wife, actor Joyce Lancaster.
    Upon the conclusion of the war he and Joyce married and moved to San Francisco (1946) with other friends from Waldport to found a theater company, The Interplayers, for which Adrian printed programs and posters. In 1948, Adrian began to work with Jack Stauffacher at Greenwood Press. In 1950, he founded his own press and in 1958 Adrian, Joyce, and their daughter Melissa spent a year in Europe studying the history of typography and the book. Upon the family's return in 1959, Adrian set up his design studio and press in what would become its permanent location, One Tuscany Alley.
    Joyce's own interests in art extended far beyond the theater. She was an avid writer and artist, writing and designing numerous children's books, often using her own block prints. She coauthored a number of Adrian's books. While conducting research for The Design of Books in Europe in 1965, the couple discovered the earliest known layouts for a printed book, The Nuremberg Chronicle (1493). Adrian and Joyce spent years researching these layouts, an endeavor which culminated in the publication of The Making of the Nuremberg Chronicle in 1978.
    In 1983, Wilson was named a MacArthur Fellow to facilitate his work as a designer, printer, and scholar. At the time, in addition to his work at One Tuscany Alley, he and Joyce were working closely with researchers at the University of California, Davis to develop a method for analyzing ancient books using the cyclotron at the Crocker Nuclear Laboratory.
    Adrian Wilson suffered from heart problems and underwent the first of numerous open heart surgeries in 1964. He died in 1988 at the age of 64 awaiting a heart donor. Joyce continued the Press at Tuscany Alley until her death in 1996.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Adrian Wilson Papers, 1884-1993, document Wilson's personal and professional life as a fine art printer. Despite a lack of formal training, Wilson founded a respected fine press, The Press at Tuscany Alley, and his work is well documented in this collection. Included are client files, designs, and mockups. In addition to the Papers, The Bancroft Library holds a significant collection of Wilson's published works and ephemera that have been cataloged separately within the library's general collection. The Papers give great insight into Wilson as an individual, and include personal correspondence and journals. Family papers extend to Wilson's parents, Adrian P. and Christine Wilson, and the papers of his wife, Joyce Lancaster.
    The collection has been divided into seven series: Correspondence; Job Files; Projects; Subject Files; Lectures, Seminars, Speeches, and Events; Atlas Advisory Group; and Family Papers. The bulk of the collection documents Wilson's professional and artistic pursuits.
    Both Adrian and Joyce Wilson's early lives are well represented in the collection. Included are numerous pieces of memorabilia from Joyce's high school career. Adrian's two years at Wesleyan University are documented through journals and a constant correspondence with his parents and brother. Of special note is Adrian's correspondence with his parents during his tenures at various Civilian Public Service Camps during World War II (Series 7.3).
    The most comprehensive series are those documenting Wilson's work as a printer: Series 2, Job Files and Series 3, Projects. The Job Files series includes files on work for hire while the Projects series includes working files for Adrian and Joyce Wilson's own publications. Additional documentation of the Wilson's professional lives can be found in Series 4, Subject Files and Series 7, Family Papers.
    Correspondence has been divided out according to the relationship with the correspondent. General correspondence with clients, colleagues, and friends can be found in Series 1. Correspondence relating directly to various projects can be found in Series 2 and family correspondence is found in Series 7.
    Succinct series descriptions provide a basic outline of the records available. The researcher should consult the container list to determine if the records contain a topic of interest as not all subjects are mentioned in these brief descriptions.