Guild of Book Workers Newsletter
Number 104
February 1996

Laura S. Young
August 12, 1905 - March 1, 1996

"Mrs. Young," as she was known to her students and staff, is probably best remembered for her patience, her insistence on the use of quality materials, and her constant demand that all treatment be appropriate to the book. Her manner was quiet but firm. The number of her students who have continued working in the field was her greatest joy as a teacher. In addition to teaching privately and with Gerhard Gerlach, she taught at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, and at Cooper Union in New York.

As president of the Guild of Book Workers for nineteen years (1949-52, 1958-74), Mrs. Young, along with the Executive Committee, expanded membership and services to members. During this period the Guild was affiliated with the American Institute of Graphic Arts; she also served as Secretary and member of the Board of Directors of the AIGA 1961-1978, and was Programming Chairman and member of the Arts and Crafts Council of the Riverside Church 1962-1970.

In 1981 R. R. Bowker published her book, Bookbinding and Conservation by Hand: A Working Guide. It sold well and was soon out of print. For Mrs. Young to see it in print again in recent months was a great pleasure. Oak Knoll Press has reissued it in hard cover and paperback.

Mrs. Young grew up in Chatham, Virginia, where she attended Chatham Hall. In 1928 she graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in Chemistry and earned a degree in Library Service from Columbia University in 1939. Her career in bookbinding and conservation began in 1936 when she enrolled in an evening class in the School of General Studies at Columbia University taught by Gerhard Gerlach. While purchasing equipment and setting up a small bindery in her apartment she continued to study with Mr. Gerlach, and in 1947 joined him in teaching. When the class was discontinued in 1962 she expanded her private teaching and commission work moving the bindery first to a basement room in her apartment building, and in 1965 to its twenty-five year home at 115th Street and Broadway in New York. It was from this shop, as she called it, that she retired in 1984 with her husband, Frederick, to their farm on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.

Their efforts turned to the restoration of a Victorian house in a nearby town. This was accomplished with the usual organization and dispatch, Mrs. Young refinishing quite a bit of furniture herself in the barn workshop. Their two grandchildren, friends, family, and former students have enjoyed many weekends there with lively discussions around the dining room table. Mrs. Young's spirit will always be in future discussions around that table.

Note: The Guild is gathering material for an issue of the Journal dedicated to the memory of Mrs. Young. We welcome reminiscences, anecdotes, photographs, etc. Please contact, or send them to Jerilyn Davis, 235 West 102nd Street, Apt. 7D, New York NY 10025 ph: 212-889-2239