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Caxton Club records

Identifier: Wing-Modern-MS-Caxton

Scope and Content of the Collection

Corporate and organizational records of the Caxton Club, including minutes of its governing council and committees, membership records, financials, and some historical and literary writings related to programs or publications.

Since its inception in 1895, the club has sponsored exhibits (only scantily documented here) and publications (fully documented in content, design and production terms). Program records consist mostly of printed announcements and correspondence, but since the early 1990s there are also video recordings of most meetings. A full run of the club’s publications, including many association copies and special bindings, is cataloged under the class number Wing ZP 983 .C31; and copies of many individual titles are held elsewhere in the library.


  • Creation: 1895-ongoing



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Caxton Club records are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Audiovisual recordings in this collection have been digitized and are available online. Access to the original audiovisual items is restricted.

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Caxton Club records are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections at

History of the Caxton Club

Chicago-based bibliophile club.

The Caxton Club was founded in Chicago in January 1895 by fifteen bibliophiles. Its charter says that the intent of the club is “the literary study and promotion of the arts pertaining to the production of books and the occasional publishing of books designed to illustrate, promote and encourage these arts.” The new club chose as its namesake, William Caxton (approximately 1422-1491), the first English printer.

Although the founders were wealthy collectors, chiefly businessmen, the membership quickly expanded and came to include many middle-class professionals, academics, and librarians. Although women were occasionally invited to attend or speak, the membership remained all-male until 1973. In its 125th year, it has more than 300 resident and non-resident members of all ages and from a wide variety of fields — business and professional folk, authors, binders, book artists, collectors, conservators, dealers, designers, editors, librarians, publishers, and scholars. Early meetings were held on Saturdays. Since the 1930s, the club has met on the evening of the third Wednesday of each month (with the exception of July and August) for a presentation by a scholar or collector on a subject related to books. Since 1992, the club presents a midday event on the second Friday of each month (except July and August) consisting of an informal illustrated presentation.

The Club’s founders intended that the Caxton Club should publish books on a variety of subjects including Americana, art history, the history of printing, literature, and the book arts. Until the 1970s, these were typically issued in small editions finely printed for a collectors’ market. The club remains committed to publishing, specializing in topics related to the Midwest and to book arts. Its books are now commercially printed and widely distributed, sometimes co-published, but the club remains committed to excellence in design and production. From the earliest years, the club presented exhibitions either in its own rooms or in cooperation with local cultural institutions and libraries, but exhibition catalogues were issued only sporadically.

Starting with preparations for the its centennial in 1895, the club devoted resources to other activities. In addition to its regular meetings, members receive a monthly publication, the Caxtonian. There are joint events with related organizations and frequent field trips. The club is committed to the encouragement of book collecting and the book arts among younger people, and since 2005 it has made annual grants to students in the book arts and bibliography.

For further information, please consult the Caxton Club's website at


70 Linear Feet (159 boxes and 2 oversize boxes)

2 items (2 hard drives)


A Chicago bibliophile club founded in 1895 with the objective of "literary study and promotion of the arts pertaining to the production of books." The Caxton Club has published books and ephemeral pieces, sponsored exhibits and other programs, made grants to students, and held regular luncheons and dinner meetings with invited speakers on topics relating to literature, arts, history, and the history of the book. This collection consists of committee correspondence, membership files, financial reports and records, event programs, presentation texts and recordings, club and speaker publications, exhibitions papers, original Caxtonian issues, photographs, videos, and recorded oral histories.


Papers are organized in the following series:

Series 1: Council Minutes, 1895-Ongoing
Boxes 1-13
Series 2: Council Committees, 1943-Ongoing
Boxes 1-6
Series 3: General Correspondence, 1895-Ongoing
Boxes 1-11
Series 4: Financial, 1895-Ongoing
Boxes 1-21
Series 5: Membership, 1895-Ongoing
Boxes 1-23
Series 6: Programs, 1895-Ongoing
Boxes 1-9
Series 7: Presentation texts, 1945-Ongoing
Boxes 1-4
Series 8: Publications, 1895-2020
Boxes 1-17
Series 9: Exhibitions, 1919-2015
Boxes 1-8
Series 10: Library, 1895-1998
Box 1
Series 11: FABS, 1994-2007
Boxes 1-3
Series 12: Caxtonian, 1993-Ongoing
Boxes 1-31
Series 13: Historical Documents, 1895-2019
Boxes 1-2
Series 14: Photographs, 1895-2001
Boxes 1-2
Series 15: Development and Awards, 1993-Ongoing
Boxes 1-5
Series 16: Website, 2001-2006
Box 1
Series 17: Symposia, 2005-2016
Boxes 1-5
Series 18: Oversize Items, 1895-1992
Boxes 1-2
Series 19: Audiovisual, 1993-ongoing
Digitized audiovisual materials have been permanently removed from the collection for preservation. Access to the original audiovisual items is restricted.

Collection Stack Location

3a 60 6-11


Gift, Caxton Club, 1996, with subsequent donations.

Processed by

Adrian Alexander, Elaine Walker, and Keva Kreeger, 2020.


Inventory of the Caxton Club records, 1895-ongoing
Adrian Alexander, Elaine Walker, and Keva Kreeger
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2023-01-17: Digitized audiovisual materials have been permanently removed from the collection for preservation. Access to the original audiovisual items is restricted.
  • 2023-06-15: Additional material added to collection in various series.

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States