The Typography Lab at the University of Iowa was started in 1945 under the direction of Carroll Coleman, who had been operating a private press, The Prairie Press, in Muscatine, Iowa. Coleman's duties included printing for the University as well as pedagogical responsibilites in the School of Journalism. In 1961, Coleman returned to The Prairie Press, although he continued to reside in Iowa City.
He was succeeded in 1961 as the director of the Type Lab by Harry Duncan, late of the Cummington Press in Massachusetts. His New York Times obituary had this to say about Duncan: "Newsweek magazine said in 1982 that Mr. Duncan had come to be 'considered the father of the post-World War II private-press movement.' Fine Print magazine said in 1978: 'Harry Duncan's virtuosity, taste and experience have enabled him to reconcile the esthetic and practical demands of printing and typography and weld them together with literary excellence.'" Sometime during his tenure, Printing Services was created and freed the director of the Type Lab of the responsibility for creating University documents.
Duncan worked in the Type Lab until 1972,when he accepted a job at the University of Nebraska at Omaha where he had no teaching duties, but was to operate the Abbatoir Press.
Following Duncan as head of the lab was Kay Amert who assumed the duties of the Head in 1972. She had been a student of Duncan's and started her own press, the Seamark Press, while a student. She headed up the Type Lab until her retirement in 2006.
With Kay's retirement and the move of the School of Journalism,the decision was made to close the Type Lab. The Type Kitchen carries on the tradition of hand printing at the University of Iowa.