Skip to main content

Bookbuilders of Boston records

Collection MS-1986-004: Bookbuilders of Boston records


  • Creation: 1941-2019

Scope and Contents

Records of the publishing association Bookbuilders of Boston, including correspondence, meeting minutes, photographs, publicity, and related items. The materials document various activities of the association, including dinner meetings, executive committee meetings, the annual New England Book Show, workshops, and other events.


Restrictions on access

Collection is open for research. Scholarship information is closed until 2094 due to FERPA restrictions.

Cassette recordings and data CDs have been digitally copied; all original media were retained, but may not be played due to format. Digital use copies can only be accessed in the Burns Library Reading Room. Microcassette recordings are not available for playback due to format impermanence and have not been reformatted. Please let Burns Library Public Services know of your specific interest, if possible, reformatting will be scheduled.

Restrictions on use

These materials are made available for use in research, teaching and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright Law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source. The original authors may retain copyright to the materials.

Historical Note: Bookbuilders of Boston

Founded in 1937, Bookbuilders of Boston was an association of publishers, printers, and artists involved in the world of bookmaking. Its objectives included: (1) bringing together people involved in book publishing and manufacturing, including the writing, editing, design production, and marketing of books; (2) offering its members opportunities to become informed about all facets of the book industry; (3) fostering improvements in the quality of books; and (4) sponsoring one or more annual scholarships to enable qualified and deserving students to pursue accredited educational programs related to the graphic arts industry. Membership in Bookbuilders was open to any firm or individual "in sympathy with the purposes" of Bookbuilders. Government was in the hands of a board of directors, an elected president, two vice-presidents, treasurer, auditor, workshop chairs, and several committees.

Bookbuilders meetings were held roughly monthly, serving as forums for members to exchange ideas and entertain speakers who had strong ties to the industry. Through the years, many noted speakers appeared at Bookbuilders meetings, including publishing magnate and author Bennett Cerf of Random House, humorist Steve Allen, law professor Arthur Miller, author Anatole Broyard, and Boston radio and television personality Paul Benzaquin.

In 1946 Bookbuilders formed a permanent workshop to give members "specific information and assistance in various phases of bookbuilding activities." The first event of the new workshop was an exhibition by Arthur Williams of Little Brown "on the process of making books, from working layouts to the finished product." The workshop sponsored exhibitions, demonstrations, seminars, and practicums.

Just two years later Bookbuilders honored book artist William Addison Dwiggins with an exhibition of his works at the Boston Public Library. The association later established an annual award to honor Dwiggins' memory, given to the individual who "has contributed significantly to the creation of books and has demonstrated interest and service to the bookbuilding community." In addition to the annual Dwiggins Award, Bookbuilders granted annual scholarships to students interested in the art of book design and manufacture.

The Bookbuilders began the New England Book Show in 1957 to "encourage and celebrate excellence in bookmaking." Entitled "Publisher's Choice 1957," firms were encouraged to submit titles which they took "particular pride in publishing" and which rose "above the level of craftsmanship that is satisfied with slavish adherence to past patterns." The show proved to be an immense success, and the New England Book Show went on to become the most prominent exhibition of its type in the Northeast. Categories for entries included: General Trade Illustrated, General Trade Unillustrated, College Texts, Elementary and High School Texts, Juvenile, Professional Illustrated, Professional Unillustrated, Specialty, as well as a separate competition for jackets and covers.

Bookbuilders was the oldest organization of its type in the United States until 2022, when it ceased operations following the results of a survey of membership indicating that “there [was] not enough interest and energy to maintain Bookbuilders of Boston in the form that it took pre-pandemic.”


"Bookbuilders of Boston, 1937-1987," legacy finding aid, John J. Burns Library control files, 2012.

"Bookbuilders of Boston to Shutter Operations," Publisher's Weekly, May 2, 2022.


28 Linear Feet (26 containers)

26.63 Gigabytes (328 files, including approximately 12.5 hours of audio)

Language of Materials



Records of the publishing association Bookbuilders of Boston, including correspondence, meeting minutes, photographs, publicity, and related items. The materials document various activities of the association, including dinner meetings, executive committee meetings, the annual New England Book Show, workshops, and other events.


The collection is arranged in eight series: I. Administrative records and correspondence; II. Committees; III. Educational programming; IV. Meetings and events; V. Membership and mailing lists; VI. New England Book Show; VII. Publicity and communications; and VIII. Related organizations.

The first series, Administrative records and correspondence, is further arranged in seven sub-series: A. Correspondence; B. Dwiggins Award; C. Financial records; D. Institutional history; E. Operations; F. Presidents' and officers' files; and G. Scholarships.

The second series, Committees, is further arranged in fourteen sub-series: A. Archives Committee; B. Dwiggins Award Committee; C. Education Committee; D. Endowment Committee; E. Executive Committee; F. Fiftieth Anniversary Committee; G. House Committee; H. Membership Committee; I. New England Book Show Committee; J. Nominating Committee; K. Program Committee; L. Publicity Committee; M. Scholarship Committee; and N. Committee membership.

The third series, Educational programming, is further arranged in four sub-series: A. Printings and keepsakes; B. Roundtable; C. Seminars; and D. Workshop.

The fourth series, Meetings and events, is further arranged in five sub-series: A. Annual meetings; B. Calendars and meeting announcements; C. Christmas or holiday parties; D. General meetings and lectures; and E. Special events.

Custodial History

For decades, the Bookbuilders of Boston did not maintain a central repository for its administrative records, nor did they systematically collect important documents. Collection and retention of important documents was left to annually elected presidents, who maintained the records of the organization during their respective terms. Former president Richard N. Darcy advocated for the formation of an Archives Committee. Formed in 1982, the Archives Committee was charged with collecting and preserving the documentary heritage of Bookbuilders. In subsequent months the committee collected material, including organizational records, photographs, scrapbooks, and prize-winning entries from the New England Book Show.

In 1984, the Bookbuilders identified Burns Library as the repository for their archives. These records were originally received on deposit under the oversight of the Bookbuilders Archives Committee, with the intention that they remain at Boston College permanently. The collection was initially processed in 1987 with funding from Bookbuilders. Accruals were deposited periodically. After Bookbuilders ceased operations in 2022, the records were offically given to Burns Library. Finally, in 2023, the complete collection was fully reprocessed by Burns Library.


Transferred from Bookbuilders of Boston, 1986-2019.

Related Materials

Allyn and Bacon records, MS.2013.047, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Bookbuilders of Boston website.*/

Boston College collection of George F. Trenholm, MS.1994.038, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Philip J. and Mary Stack McNiff papers, MS.2005.038, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Separated Materials

Published books associated with this collection, primarily submissions to the New England Book Show, have been transferred within the Burns Library and can be found in the Boston College Library catalog.

  • Detailed financial records, tax returns, bank and investment statements; Duplicates
  • Duplicates
  • Duplicate and corrupted born digital media
Bookbuilders of Boston Records
Elizabeth M. Peters
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2024 February: Added two accessions: BC.2021.054 and BC.2021.012

Repository Details

Part of the John J. Burns Library Repository

John J. Burns Library
Boston College
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill MA 02467 United States