Private Press Association



A Brief History of the American Private Press Association

By Martin M. Horvat, Librarian

The formation and development of the collections and programs of the library of the American Private Press Association constitutes a significant portion of the history of the Society. The purpose of the chapbook (Guide to the Work of the American Private Press Association) is to describe those collections and programs. Accordingly, an extended discussion is not required here. However, there are some useful benchmarks in the long career of the Association and its collections that will be useful to note here. They will help provide a framework for the following chapters on the Association's collections and programs.

The Association was recognized as a 501c3 organization by the Federal Government on October 24, 1980, to provide a group to "encourage the collection and preservation of the products of our country’s presses as well as printers’ memorabilia and equipment….for the purpose of enlarging our understanding of our Culture and its relationships to the World.” Furthermore, it is hoped that the promotion of  such collections in order to "aid the progress of science and literature and to improve and interest posterity." These objectives still form our core beliefs and efforts, which are to collect, organize, and preserve the records and products of Mankind thereby encouraging the study and understanding of the past. It is our premise that an appreciation of the works of people who came before us is a vital part of a full life. Historical perspective on our lives and times is acquired by a knowledge of the past, thereby giving us a sense of proportion that can be instructive and humbling. As we push back the borders of Darkness we assist those who follow to see more clearly, just as those in the past have raised a candle before our eyes.

The Association emphasizes a study of Historiography. The myths and legends of our distant past were transmitted by storytellers. By the mid-eighteenth century they had become “amateurs of history,” amateurs in the true sense of the lover. Scientific history, an invention of the Nineteenth Century, took the responsibilities of transmitting the past to the present for the future. Gradually, the layman was forgotten and the professor of history strutted largely across the stage. The Association considers it essential that a dialog be established between the intelligent reader and the scientist. It is our duty to provide resources, services, and programs that make history interesting, pleasurable, and meaningful to as broad a constituency as possible. .

The next few years in the life of the Association will be as interesting as the past. In order to enhance our abilities to serve, we must enlarge our financial resources in order to meet inflationary trends and to improve staff services. A permanent home must be found that provides full security from fire and flood while adequate work space for the staff and improved facilities for visiting fellows and readers is needed. The future of the American Private Press Association waits for no one. We shall enlarge and improve and transmit our legacy to those who shall succeed us by keeping the American Private Press Association a vibrant and useful institution.