Susan Colodny


Ismar David ( 1910 1996) was a German-born graphic artist who launched his professional career in Jerusalem and moved in 19C2 to live and work in the United States. He is noted for his brilliant work in Hebrew and Latin calligraphy, lettering, and type design, as well as a distinctive linear style of illustration. Over a span of six decades, Ismar David amassed an archive of materials that chronicles his design career. In 1997, the archive was donated to the Melbert B. Cary Jr. Graphic Arts Collection at the Rochester Institute of Technology, where it will be preserved and made available for research. To facilitate the use of an archival collection for research, a repository pre pares what is called a finding aid. A finding aid traditionally provides a detailed description of the collection contents and organizes the materials in a coherent and systematic way. In addition, a finding aid often explains a collection's origin, gives relevant biographical information, and notes the scope and content of a collection. Parts of a collection are usually listed with container numbers that are used to identify and request items for examination. In recent years libraries and other archival repositories have begun to "publish" electronic finding aids on the World Wide Web to help researchers learn the exact content of a collection from a remote location and avoid the travel and detective work that was accepted as part of the research process prior to the explosive growth of the Internet. Many text-encoding options exist and are currently used to create electronic finding aids, including American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII), Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), Encoded Archival Description (EAD), and Portable Document Format (PDF) . EAD and PDF offer the best solutions for publishing finding aids online considering the need to convey hierarchical structure. Any practical choice of technology, however, should consider institutional programmatic decisions, the human labor factor, and on-screen aesthetic goals, among other variables. In light of current trends in archival practice, the purpose of this thesis was: 1 ) to prepare for remote access an electronic finding aid for the Ismar David archive; 2) to incorporate select examples of Ismar David's design work in the electronic guide; and 3) to ensure that the visual appeal of the finding aid complements the skills and reputation of this great designer. To meet these objectives, the collection materials had to be identified, sorted, categorized, and physically ordered. Biographical information about David had to be gathered through reading his writings and writings about him. Based on this work, a paper-based finding aid was prepared, combining the inventory of the collection with descriptive text in a format that meets archival standards. The necessary steps were also taken to obtain and prepare digital images of items in the collection, and to design and lay out the illustrated electronic document. Finally the electronic finding aid for the Ismar David archive was distilled into Portable Document Format, in which navigation features were added. After approval, the guide to the archive will be published on the Internet via the Cary Graphic Arts Collection web site. Publishing the Ismar David finding aid in PDF will preserve the graphic integrity of the document and make the finding aid accessible with the free Adobe Acrobat Reader. Ismar David will surely be the subject of future research. By organizing, comprehensively describing, and facilitating access to the archive, the electronic finding aid will increase the value of this resource for potential users worldwide. The finding aid will enable efficient and controlled access to materials, and therefore help to preserve the collection. And, in its innovative format, the electronic finding aid for the Ismar David archive will in effect serve as a permanent exhibit of the graphic artist's work.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

David, Ismar--Archives--Indexes; Melbert B. Cary, Jr. Graphic Arts Collection. Ismar David Archive--Indexes; Graphic arts--New York (State)--Rochester--Indexes; Calligraphers--Archival resources--Indexes; Calligraphy--Specimens--Indexes

Publication Date


Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

School of Print Media (CIAS)


Pankow, David

Advisor/Committee Member

Markham, Sandra


Note: imported from RIT’s Digital Media Library running on DSpace to RIT Scholar Works. Physical copy available through RIT's The Wallace Library at: NK3631.D38 C64 2000


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