Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Association of American University Presses records, 1927-1975, 2013-2018

Summary Information

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#00
Bib ID 4078720 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Association of American University Presses
Title Association of American University Presses records, 1927-1975, 2013-2018
Physical Description 5.5 linear feet (13 boxes)
Language(s) English .

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.



This collection is arranged by record type.



Included are correspondence, minutes of Board of Directors and committees, proceedings of annual business meetings, surveys, statistical reports, financial records, photographs, and printed materials. The correspondence files dating from 1927, contain letters from university press directors regarding meetings arrangements, cooperative programs, and other matters of mutual concern. There are no correspondence files for the years 1936 to 1943.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Association of American University Presses record ; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.


Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. Contact rbml@columbia.edu for more information.

Ownership and Custodial History

Gift of the Association, 1979.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Source of acquisition--Association of American University Presses. Method of acquisition--Gift; Date of acquisition--1979. Accession number--M79-12.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Text of historical sketch and chronology prepared for the Association by Marjorie Seal who inventoried these papers as a class project for Columbia University's School of Library Service (SLS) Course K8205 in 1979.

Cataloged 03/24/1989 Christina Hilton Fenn

Revision Description

2009-06-26 File created.

2012-01-20 XML document instance created by Catherine C. Ricciardi

2017-03-30 Web Archives Series added by Jane Gorjevsky

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Photographic prints Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
minutes (administrative records) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Publishers and publishing -- Canada Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Publishers and publishing -- United States Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
University presses -- United States Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note


The Association of American University Presses was informally started in the 1920s and formally organized in 1937 as a non-profit trade organization of American and Canadian university presses.

The earliest document I found among the papers of the Association was the carbon copy of a memo of 22 June, 1921, from Donald P. Bean, then at the University of Chicago Press, to the administrative committee of the Press, reporting on a recent meeting in New York, attended by the representativesof the university presses of Columbia, Johns Hopkins, Yale, Harvard and Princeton. A proposal was made at that meeting by Mr Marsh, also of the University of Chicago Press, for the organization of an association of American university presses, open without dues or other expenses, to "one representative of each press maintained by an American university or college, and authorized to use its name." The kind of press to which Mr Marsh refers had been established in America, starting in the second half of the 19th Century by men who envisioned universities as a tripartite arrangement consisting of a faculty responsible for teaching and research, a library, and a publishing house to disseminate the results of the interaction between the other two.

By the beginning of World War II, over thirty presses had been established until today, seventy-six unviersity presses are members of the Association. In 1878, Daniel Coit Gilman, President of the Johns Hopkins University, began America's oldest continuously operating university press in Baltimore. Andrew White, President of Cornell, had earlier founded what would have been the first university press, but the press at Cornell, started in 1869, lasted only until 1884 when its appropriation was cut, and it did not resume operation until 1930. In 1891, William Rainey Harper founded the University of Chicago Press and Nicholas Murray Butler began a press at Columbia two years later. A press was also started at the University of California in 1893. The names of these presses and their directors appear frequently in the early records of the association.

On February 8, 1937, the university presses banded together February 8, 1937, the university presses banded together in a formal organization, adopted a constitution and elected their first officers, Donald Bean as President and Charles Proffitt as Secretary. An event of importance to an understanding of the Association, its purpose and activities - the all important 'provenance' of its papers - is the major reorganization the Association underwent in 1964. It emerged from this reorganization in the form of two corporate bodies: AAUP and AUPS. The Association of American University presses, Inc. (AAUP) was formed under the Membership Corporation Law of the State of New York on July 31, 1964 as a successor to a portion of the assets and operations of the unincorporated Association. The remaining portion of the assets and operations were assumed by the American University Press Services, Inc. (AUPS) formed also on July 31, 1964 under the Business Corporate Law of the State of New York.

The Certificate of Incorporation of AAUP provides that its purposes are to encourage the dissemination of the results of research and scholarship through the development of university presses, provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and offer technical assistance and advice to institutions of higher learning. Its activities include assistance to university presses, educational programs such as day-long seminars and liaison with publishing and educational organizations in the United States and abroad. The activities of the AUPS consist of the cooperative activities we trace in the early records: operation of the Educational Directory, publication of bibliographies such as Scholarly Books in America, combined exhibits of university press books at scholarly and professional meetings and preparation of a work of reference. An Advertiser's Guide to Scholarly Periodicals, an annual compilation of information about American and foreign journals, the responsibilities of the Central Office staff are to assist in the operation of the cooperative enterprises, help with the planning and conduct of annual meetings, relieve elected officials of routine work and carry through the Association's contact with other organizations.

By ruling letter dated June 28, 1965, AAUP was held to be an exempt organization under the provisions of the IRS code, Section 501(c)(3). This is of value to the Association in its work because it makes the Assocation eligible for foundation grants which would be difficult to procure otherwise. The early records show, for instance, that in 1931, the Rockefeller grant enabling the creation of the Educational Directory had to be given to the Unviersity of Chicago as an educational organization rather than to the Association. AUPS income is not exempt from federal, state or local taxes.


1918 - First recorded attempt at cooperation between university presses, a joint sales effort by Harvard and Yale University Presses to sell scholarly books to New York City bookstores.

1928 - Publication of Shelfward Ho, joint catalogue of 13 university presses listing 65 titles.

1928 - University presses begin holding day-long annual meetings.

1929 - Publication of the Bean Report, "American Scholarly Publishing," detailing the problems of scholarly publishers.

1931 - Grant from Rockefeller Foundation made to the University of Chicago Press to inaugurate The Educational Directory, a specialized mailing list of academicians and librarians.

1931-1932 - Series of 13 cooperative university press advertisements appear in The New York Times under heading "The Lookout."

1932, 1933 - Publication of mark-down sales catalogues.

Mid-1930s - University press cooperative exhibits prograa organized by the University of Chicago Press .

1932 - Publication of O.H. Cheney's, Economic Survey of the Book Industry, 1930-1931, outlining enlarged program of joint activities by the commercial publishers.

1932 - Publication of Donald Bean's "Memo Addressed to the Producers of Highbrovr Tobaccaos," written in response to the Cheney Report and calling for an organization distinguished from that of the "commercial tobacco producers."

1936 - Announcement by Farrar and Rinehart of an organization to be called "United University Presses, Inc., " to maintain a display of scholarly books and to wholesale them.

1937 - Formation of the Association of American University Presses (AAUP), adoption of a constitution and election of first officers.

1941 - First assessment of annual membership dues, $10 per press, to cover cost of communications between member presses.

1946 - Formal adoption of AAUP By-Laws .

1949 - Publication of Chester Kerr's, Report on American University Presses.

1953 - Establishment of Scholarly Books in America at the University of Illinois Press.

1956 - Ford Foundation grant of $2,725,000 to help publish books in humanities and social sciences.

1959 - Organization of AAUP central office in New York City.

1960 - Publication of study by Richard G. Underwood, "Production and Manufacturing Problems of American University Presses", funded by the Ford Foundation.

1960-1965 - Rockefeller Foundation grant of $225,000 for Latin American Translation Program.

1964 - Establishment of American University Press Services (AUPS).

1965 - Establishment of CILA, Centro Interamericano de Libros Academicos, with grants from Rockefeller and Ford Foundations.

1967 - Publication of first edition of University Press Books for Secondary School Libraries.

1967 - Publication of To Advance Knowledge, by Gene Haves.

1967-1968 - National Endowment for the Humanities grant of $50,000 to promote scholarly works and publications in the humanities.