The Graphic Design Archives at RIT document and preserve the work of significant American graphic designers active from the 1920s to the 1950s. In addition, selected contemporary designers working in the modernist traditions are also included. The first collections came to RIT in 1984 through the vision of RIT Professor Roger Remington and have grown to include the works of 36 designers and typographers, including:
Walter Allner, Hans J. Barschel, Saul Bass, Lester Beall, Alexey Brodovitch, Will Burtin, Tom Carnese, Chermayeff and Geismar, Louis Danziger, Estelle Ellis, Mary Faulconer, George Giusti, William Golden, Rob Roy Kelly, Leo Lionni, Alvin Lustig, Joyce Morrow, Cipe Pineles, Paul Rand, Alex Steinweiss, Ladislav Sutnar, Ceil Smith Thayer, Bradbury Thompson, Fred Troller, and Massimo and Lella Vignelli.
The Graphic Design Archives are under the administrative care of the Cary Graphic Arts Collection and complement its extensive holdings in graphic communications history and printing technology. While many of the GDA collections represent the complete surviving work of a particular designer, some are smaller sample collections that document a portion of a designer’s career. Broadly summarized, the collections contain original source materials documenting the designers’ working lives, and include such unique items as original artwork, sketchbooks, sculptures, architectural models, reliefs, and printed samples (tear sheets, proofs and sample issues of publications). In addition, many of the archives includes photographs and slides, as well as audio tapes and film. Numerous scholars use the collections, including faculty or curators from such prominent institutions as Brigham Young University; the Museum of Decorative Arts, Prague; North Carolina State University; Rochester Institute of Technology; Rutgers University: and Yale University. In addition, the Graphic Design Archives contain significant visual artifacts which have been borrowed for exhibitions at national and international museums including the National Museum of American Art, Washington, DC; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; London Design Museum; Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris; and the Museum Folkswang, Essen.