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Donald M. Anderson Papers

Identifier: Wing-Modern-MS-Anderson

Scope and Content of the Collection

Correspondence, materials relating to authored books and articles, original graphic art works, family history materials.

Copies of most of Anderson’s publications, including books he designed entirely or in part, are to be found in the cataloged portion of the Wing collection.

The papers are arranged in eleven series that for the most part follow Anderson’s own filing system. Most topics appear both in the seven series that represent Anderson’s original gift and again in the appendixes of material added to the collection after Mr. Anderson’s death (series 8-11).


  • Creation: 1834-1995
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1942-1995



Materials are mostly in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Donald M. Anderson papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Donald M. Anderson papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections at

Biography of Donald M. Anderson

Madison, Wisconsin calligrapher and design educator.

Born in Bridgewater, SD on December 13, 1915, Donald Meyers Anderson (often shortened to "DMA" in this guide) studied art at the University of Iowa. He served in the U.S. Army as an illustrator in the Ordnance Department of the Pentagon from 1941 to 1946 and then briefly designed books for the Army Adjutant General and the Civil Aeronautics Board. In 1947 he accepted a position in the Art Department of the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he taught design, lettering, and watercolor classes until 1982. He authored two influential textbooks, The Elements of Design (1961) and The Art of Written Forms (1969). The latter was reissued in 1992 as Calligraphy: The Art of Written Forms. His paintings were exhibited widely in the Midwest in the 1950s and 1960s, and throughout his career he did design work for the University of Wisconsin Press, the State of Wisconsin, and several magazines. He edited and published two facsimiles of Renaissance calligraphic manuals and one artist’s book under the imprint Meles Vulgaris Press. He was best known, however, as a calligrapher and teacher of calligraphy. In the 1970s and after his retirement he produced and sold numerous calligraphic booklets and broadsides from a booth on the State Street Mall in Madison. He died on September 5, 1995.


35.5 Linear Feet (41 boxes, 11 oversize boxes, and 1 flat folder)


Correspondence, materials relating to publications, graphic art work, calligraphic broadsides and booklets, teaching materials, and subject files of Madison, Wisconsin calligrapher and design educator Donald Myers Anderson.


Papers are organized in the following series

Series 1: Biographical, approximately 1941-1970
Box 1
Series 2: Correspondence, 1948-1991
Boxes 2-6
Series 3: Authored Works, 1955-1980
Boxes 7-16
Series 4: Calligraphy Teaching Materials, 1948-1990
Box 17
Series 5: Fine Art Work, 1948-1967
Box 18
Series 6: Graphic Design Work, 1946-1990
Boxes 19-27
Series 7: Oversize materials, 1959-1991
Boxes 28-35
Series 8: Appendix to Series 1 (Biographical), 1834-1995
Boxes 36-41
Series 9: Appendix to Series 2 (Correspondence), 1970-1995
Boxes 42-43
Series 10: Appendix to Series 3 (Authored Works), 1985-1995
Boxes 44-45
Series 11: Appendix to Series 5 and 6 (Art and Design), 1942-1995
Boxes 46-49
Series 12: Appendix to Series 7 (Oversize - Student works), approximately 1947-1982
Boxes 50-52

Collection Stack Location

4a 28 11-12; 4a 29 11-12


Gift, Donald M. Anderson, 1992, with additional gifts, 1992-1994. Additional materials conveyed by the estate of Donald Anderson in October of 1995.

Processed by

Adrian Alexander and Paul F. Gehl, March 1993-January 1995 and April 2004- December 2005; Mette Shayne, 2015.

Inventory of the Donald M. Anderson papers, 1834-1995, bulk 1942-1995
Mette Shayne
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States