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Carroll Coleman Papers

Identifier: MsC0477

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Scope and Contents

The Carroll Coleman Papers are a reflection of his career and of his Prairie Press. Its 4.5 linear feet of material is organized chronologically within an alphabetical sequence dating from the late 1920s through the 1960s. There are four boxes of correspondence which include letters from: Walter Blumenthal, Myron Broomwell, Hayden Carruth, August Derleth, James Hearst, Frank Luther Mott, Alan Swallow, and others. Many of his books are represented in formative stages with galley proofs, page proofs, and mock-ups. The Prairie Press is well documented, not only with individual works but also with advertising and business records. Other files include such things as the Christmas cards that Coleman printed each year, speeches, and typefaces.


  • Creation: 1927-1992
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1960-1965


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.

Biographical / Historical

Carroll Coleman (1904 -- 1989) was born in Appanoose County, Iowa, and graduated from Muscatine High School in 1923. He was still in high school when he acquired his first small press and began printing. After graduation he took several jobs in commercial printing and worked for the Muscatine Journal, the local newspaper, for seven years. Bad health forced him to quit his job with the paper. He then moved to Chicago where he studied with the noted designer, William Kitterage. Returning to Muscatine, Coleman started his own press. In 1935, his Prairie Press published four books and the following year one of his books (What Laughing God? by Whitelaw Saunders) was named among the "Fifty Best Books of the Year" by the American Institute of Graphic Arts. This would be the first of thirteen such honors. In 1945 he moved his press to Iowa City and joined the faculty of the University of Iowa where he taught typography for the new Typographic Laboratory. In 1956 he added the position of University Editor, Director of Publications and Manager of Printing Services to his professional duties. It became increasingly difficult to balance his responsibilities to the University and run his press. In 1961 he returned full time to the Prairie Press, where he continued publishing the works of living writers.


20 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Proprietor of the Prairie Press and printer. Correspondence, preliminary drafts, galleys and mock-ups for books printed by the Prairie Press, and related business records, advertising, etc.

Method of Acquisition

These papers were donated to the University of Iowa Libraries by Coleman's widow, Genevieve Coleman.


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Repository Details

Part of the University of Iowa Special Collections Repository

Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City IA 52242 IaU
319-335-5900 (Fax)