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Goudy @ Syracuse: A Legacy by Design

Bird Library

08-14-2017 to 09-12-2018

Orange Central Opening Reception:
Thursday, October 5, 4:30 to 6:00 p.m.

In 1935, Goudy visited Syracuse University to address the New York Press Association at the fledgling School of Journalism (now the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communication), laying the foundation for his personal connection to the University. It was the school’s dean, M. Lyle Spencer, who fostered the bridge between America’s foremost type designer and the program that became one of the premier institutions of communication in the country. The connection continues today through Syracuse University’s own graphic identity. The typeface, titled Sherman, whose original matrices Goudy himself once considered lost, were recently uncovered by the Special Collections Research Center at Syracuse University Libraries. The original design has been reinterpreted for the 21st century by Chester Jenkins of Village Type Foundry and Michael Beirut of Pentagram, the world’s largest independent design consultancy. The new digital font, based on Goudy’s original design, is the keystone for Syracuse University’s new branding.

Goudy and Spencer 1936 SU Commencement

Above: Frederic W. Goudy (left) receives his first honorary degree from Syracuse University in 1939, with dean M. Lyle Spencer of the School of Journalism. University Archives Photograph Collection.

Goudy @ Syracuse: A Legacy by Design tells the story of Frederic W. Goudy and his connection to Syracuse University. Through a selection of rare books, printed ephemera, and archival materials, original sketches, markups, and digital renderings from Jenkins and Beirut that showcase Goudy’s ongoing collaboration with Syracuse University, this exhibition explores not only the impact and importance of the famed type designer, but also celebrates the strong historical ties and entwined legacy of Goudy and Syracuse University.

Goudy & Syracuse: Tale of a Typeface Found video link

Above: Link to the mini-documentary that tells the tale of rediscovering Sherman, a typeface designed by Frederic Goudy in 1910 and revived by Chester Jenkins in 2016 for Syracuse University. Produced by Dress Code, New York.

Goudy first visited the city of Syracuse to address the New York Press Association during their fall 1935 annual meeting. Also in attendance was M. Lyle Spencer then Dean of the School of Journalism at Syracuse University. This meeting was the seed that would germinate into the lasting connection between Goudy and Syracuse University. The following year, Spencer and other members of the faculty were invited to Goudy’s workshop in Marlborough, New York, where Goudy had recently completed his 98th typeface. Spencer began to equip a typography laboratory in Yates Castle, the first home of the journalism school, anointing it the Frederic W. Goudy Typography Laboratory. Eager to bolster the relationship of his newly founded program to Goudy, in 1936 Spencer established the medal of distinguished service, and awarded the inaugural honor to Goudy. In 1939, Syracuse University was also the first institution to bestow Goudy with an honorary degree, and appointed him an official lecturer for the school in 1940.

Though Goudy died in 1947, his legacy at SU was preserved by many individuals. Professor David Norton used original Goudy artifacts and types while teaching typography, in addition to maintaining the Goudy Typography Lab for the School of Journalism, which later became the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communication. Once the process of setting type was no longer part of the Newhouse curriculum in the 1980s, Don Cortese, professor of printmaking for the College of Visual and Performing Arts, salvaged the original Goudy type from being recycled. Cortese re-established the Goudy Typography Lab in the Comstock Art Facility, where it continues to engage students with Goudy’s original materials and process. The link between Goudy and Syracuse University also endures today through the University’s visual identity which embraces new digital versions of Sherman Serif and Sherman Sans.

Chester Jenkins' original sketch for Sherman Book ItalicIn 2016, Syracuse University hired Pentagram, the world’s largest independent design consultancy, to create a new visual identity for the 21st century. When it was discovered that there was a unique connection between the University and Frederic Goudy, and that the Special Collections Research Center was in possession of original Goudy type matrices, the decision was made to incorporate these original artifacts into the project. Pentagram turned to type designer Chester Jenkins to revive the original 1910 Goudy design for a contemporary 2016 digital font. Jenkins worked closely with the design team from Pentagram and special collections curators to create the central element of new SU marque. “While I had Goudy’s original typeface as a starting point, where I ended up was a reinterpretation of Goudy’s idea, not a revival of his letters,” Jenkins explained. The result is a truly unique typeface that captures the spirit of Frederic Goudy’s design and continues the historic bond forged over 80 years ago. 

Above: Original sketch for Sherman Book Italic by Chester Jenkins of Village Type Foundry. Chester Jenkins Collection, Special Collections Research Center.

Curated by Andrew J. Saluti, with William T. La Moy,
Special Collections Research Center

Download the exhibition checklist here.