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Edna Beilenson, (1909–1981)

Goudy Award Winner 12, 1980 [Mrs. Beilsenson was not able to attend the awards ceremony at RIT. Susan Otis Thompson accepts the award on her behalf.]

Mrs. Edna Beilenson, recipient of the twelfth annual Frederic W. Goudy Award, is editor and publisher of the Peter Pauper Press, and a leader of many organizations devoted to fine printing. Mrs. Beilenson, a graduate of Hunter College, began her career in printing in L929 when she joined her husband Peter and his partner, Edmund B. Thompson, at their Walpole Printing Office in New Rochelle. After several years, Mr. Thompson left Walpole because of ill health, and Peter Pauper Press, which had been formed in 1927 by Mr. Beilenson and had been inactive, was reactivated as a husband-wife partnership.

The partnership prospered, and larger quarters were soon acquired in Mt. Vernon. Peter Pauper Press published more than 400 titles over the years and more than 200 of them are still in print. The Press pioneered in producing quality gift editions at a low cost and has published such classics of literal true and wit as Poems of Baudelaire, volumes of Haiku, and The Epigrams of Oscar Wilde. Among its assortment of humor, whimsy, and cookbooks are volumes of African proverbs, limericks and Jewish cookery. After the death of her husband, Mrs. Beilenson carried on the Press alone. It continues to thrive with a program of twelve new titles each year.

Keenly aware of women's role in the graphic arts over the years, Mrs. Beilenson was instrumental in 1937 in establishing an informal organization known as The Distaff Side, consisting of women directly concerned with fine printing. She has written of the group, "The Distaff Side is a loosely-knit organization of women enlisted from printing-offices, publishing houses, studios and other hiding-places where may be found devotees of the graphic arts. The group was born out of a righteous indignation that sufficient recognition had never been accorded to woman's place in the history of printing. To amend this deficiency, The Distaff Side published its first book entitled Bookmaking on the Distaff Side, which disclosed the monumental contributions which spinsters, wives, and widows have made to the graphic arts."

As president of the American Institute of Graphic Arts, 19S8-1960, Mrs. Beilenson is generally credited with reviving that organization. She has served as president of the Goudy Society and as a member of the board of directors of the American Printing History Association.

Among her many awards, Mrs. Beilenson was named to the Hunter College Alumnae Hall of Fame and as "American Business Woman of the Year" by Who's Who of American Women. Her citation reads in part, "Mrs. Beilenson has brought to her work zeal, sophistication and accomplishment that are the hallmarks of only the most creative business executive."

 

Dr. Susan Otis Thompson accepted the Goudy Award on Edna Beilenson's behalf.

In the photograph from L to R: Herbert H. Johnson, Alexander S. Lawson, John L. Kronenberg, Dr. Susan O. Thompson, Dr. Mark F. Guldin, and Dr. Robert L. Leslie