Jane Greenfield has spent much of her life studying binding and writing about book structures. Her early education in Paris and New York gave her a facility with languages and the graphic skills that she would one day need to write and illustrate her many articles and books.
Greenfield studied at the School for Applied Design for Women in New York and at the Art Students League. She also worked as a free-lance artist before she took up the study of binding in New York City. After many years of living in Peru, she returned to this country and studied binding with Paul Banks and Laura S. Young in Manhattan. In 1965, she opened the Greenfield Bindery in New Haven, Connecticut and later, in 1973, became the Yale University Library Conservator. She set up the Conservation Studio at Yale and quietly began to restore and rebind rare and beautiful books from the University's vast collections.
Greenfield taught principles of binding in the Graphic Design Program in the Yale Art School for two decades. She also taught advanced binding techniques to many individual students and apprentices who have gone on to successful careers in the field. She introduced a number of innovative binding techniques to meet the needs of the Yale collection. All of her publications are carefully and thoughtfully written. Books, Their Care and Repair, to mention only one, has sold more than 6,000 copies since publication in 1983. Since retiring from Yale, Greenfield has turned her attention to a host of new projects, which are ongoing.
She worked with Georges Colin of the Bibliotheque Royale Albert Premier of Brussels for a decade in the preparation of an English-language translation of Berthe van Regemorter's articles on binding structures. Berthe was somewhat casual with footnotes and, consequently, Greenfield devoted an enormous amount of time to correcting and verifying citations, as well as reading many sets of galley and page proofs and correcting errors such as incorrect placement of plates and captions. Greenfield is currently writing a series of articles on notable bindings for the Yale University Library Gazette, which is published twice a year. She is now working seven days a week on her current major project, a new book entitled A Compendium of Illustrated Bookbinding Terms, to be published by H.W. Wilson.
Greenfield is illustrating every bookbinding term that can be illustrated, and has completed more than 400 drawings to date. This book should be invaluable in the field. She escapes the summer heat in New Hampshire, but her work goes on. Jane Greenfield's reputation continues to grow.
Jane Greenfield has been a member of the Guild of Book Workers since 1981. In 1991 she was designated an Honorary Member in recognition of her significant contributions to the book arts in America. A fuller account of Mrs. Greenfield's life and work, also written by George W. Cooke, can be seen in Conservation Administration News (CAN) No. 41, April 1990. She has donated a copy of her book BINDING STRUCTURES IN THE MIDDLE AGES, her annotated translation of Berthe van Regemorter's articles, to the Guild Library. Her reviews of Steffan Foglemark's FLEMISH AND RELATED PANEL-STAMPED BINDINGS and Leila Avrin's SCRIBES, SCRIPT AND BOOKS was printed in this Newsletter No. 78, October 1991. Paula Gourley's review of HEADBANDS, HOW TO WORK THEM, written by Jane Greenfield and Jenny Hille, appeared in this Newsletter No. 85, December 1992.)