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John DePol Collection

An inventory of the collection at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: LDC
Date: 12 May 2008

Biographical History

John DePol (1913-2004) was an American engraver, printer, book illustrator, and printmaker. Throughout his career, De Pol received several awards and honors, including the Richard Comyn Eames Museum Purchase Prize (1952) and the Kate W. Arms Memorial Prize (1955). In 1954, De Pol was appointed as an Associate of the National Academy of Design.

John DePol was born to Joseph and Theresa DePol on September 16, 1913, in Greenwich Village, New York. As the eldest of three children, DePol left high school early in order to support his family after his father’s untimely death. He began working as a statistical clerk and securities runner on Wall Street while attending night school where he learned typing and shorthand.

In March 1938, DePol enrolled at the Art Students League in Manhattan, taking evening classes in etching and lithography with instructor George Picken. Prior to this point, DePol was a self-taught artist, sketching Manhattan scenes and landmarks and printing etchings on his own hand-built intaglio press.

With the dawning of World War II, DePol served in the United States Army Air Force from 1943-1945. While on duty in Northern Ireland, he began taking classes at the College of Art in Belfast. During this period, DePol also sketched many of the sights and scenes in Ireland, England, and France, drawings that would later serve as the basis for many prints and book illustrations.

Upon returning to the United States, DePol began working as a production assistant at Lewis F. White Company, a small commercial printing firm. His experiences at L. F. White Company allow DePol to learn all about typography. After L. F. White Company, DePol worked in the private studio of Bernard Brussel-Smith, one of the finest wood engravers in America. During this time, DePol began doing independent work for private presses such as the Between-the-Hours Press of Ben Grauer, Prairies Press of Carroll Coleman, Zauberberg Press of Donn Drenner, and Hammer Creek Press of John Fass.

Throughout his career, DePol received several awards and honors, including the Richard Comyn Eames Museum Purchase Prize (1952) and the Kate W. Arms Memorial Prize (1955). In 1954, DePol was appointed as an Associate of the National Academy of Design.

Shortly after returning to the United States in 1945, DePol married Thelma Roth. They had one daughter, Patricia DePol. John DePol died on December 15, 2004 at the age of 91, near his home in Cliffside Park, N.J.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The John DePol Collection contains biographical material, correspondence, subject files, artwork, and artist equipment. Biographical Material contains photographs of John DePol. Correspondence consists of incoming and outgoing correspondence, as well as correspondence to and from others. Subject File contains exhibition materials, workshop and lecture materials, and information on other collections of John DePol's work. The collection also contains many examples of DePol's art works, as well as a selection of his wood blocks and printing tools, located in Artwork and Equipment respectively.

Arrangement of the Collection

Correspondence is arranged chronologically and Subject File is arranged alphabetically. Artwork is organized into subject files and arranged alphabetically by title, or subject if the title is unknown. In instances where a folder title is italicized, the name given is the known title of the work or publication; otherwise, the name given is an assigned subject. Equipment, including wood blocks and printing tools, are located at the end of the collection.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790.
Bacon, Francis, 1561-1626.
Baskerville, John, 1706-1775.
Dante Alighieri, 1265-1321.
DePol, John, 1913-2004.
Dickens, Charles, 1812-1870.
Irving, Washington, 1783-1859.
Marshall, John, 1755-1835.
Poe, Edgar Allan, 1809-1849.
Revere, Paul, 1735-1818.
Webster, Noah, 1758-1843.

Corporate Bodies

Bucknell University.
Lycoming College.
Pentagram Press.
Pickering Press.
Syracuse University.
Yellow Barn Press.


Art, American -- 20th century.
Engravers -- United States.
Illustration of books -- United States -- 20th century.
Illustrators -- United States.
Printers -- United States.
Printmakers -- United States.
Wood engravers -- United States.
Wood engraving -- United States -- 20th century.


Limerick (Limerick, Ireland).
London (England).

Genres and Forms

Book illustrations.
Broadsides (notices)
Exhibition catalogs.
Wood blocks (printing blocks)
Wood engravings.


Wood engravers.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

John DePol Collection,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Portions of the Collection are a gift of John DePol.

Portions of the Collection are a gift of David Tatham.

Table of Contents

Biographical Material


Subject File