Daniel J. Miller

Daniel J. Miller '96
23 April 1996

Curator's Preface

I FIRST ENCOUNTERED the Armed Services Editions (ASE's) in an undergraduate history seminar taught by Terry Belanger. The subject of this course was "The Impact of Printing," but my fellow 11 students and I walked away with many insights into the whole of western civilization, as well. The unique format of the class brought us into close physical contact with an impressive array of books from every modern epoch of history: we were able to hold, feel--even smell--the original ASE's.

Aware of my strong interest in 20th century American history, Mr. Belanger suggested that I mount an exhibition on the history of the ASE's in the Rotunda. We knew that the holdings of the Book Arts Press included about 300 ASE's, an impressive number considering how difficult it has become to gather more than a fraction of the 1,322 titles produced in the long series. So imagine my surprise (and delight) when I discovered that the University of Virginia had acquired 1,310 volumes of the ASE's--only 12 titles short of a full set. In 1963, the University had purchased the file set of ASE's assembled by Philip Van Doren Stern, managing director of the project. Unlike most of the ASE's now found in used book stores, Stern's collection of ASE's was in near-mint condition. As a result, I was invariably able to display just the right example in making various points in this exhibition. I am grateful to the Special Collections Department of the University of Virginia Library, and in particular to Edmund Berkeley, Jr., L. Gayle Cooper, and George Riser, for their help in researching and accessing the Stern collection.

John Y. Cole, Executive Director of the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress (LC), organized a series of events at LC in 1983 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the beginning of the ASE project. I am grateful to him for sharing his extensive correspondence files with me, and for allowing me to exhibit a number of letters written to him in 1982 by ASE writers who have since died.

I am grateful to Kenneth W. Rendell and J. Max Robins for bringing self and project to the attention of a number of prominent persons who might otherwise have ignored my letters. Samuel F. 'Bill' Royall helped in a number of ways, and I have him to thank for helping to contrive and for printing the pastiche cover of this catalog.

Finally, I wish to thank Terry Belanger, for getting me into this.