Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Joseph Ishill, Berkeley Heights, NJ: Printer & Anarchist

Joseph Ishill (1888 - 1966), printer, anarchist, and Berkeley Heights resident, may be experiencing a renaissance of interest. The Berkeley Heights Public Library has a small Ishill Archive which includes engraved copper printing blocks, a collection of pamphlets, and other related publications and ephemera printed by Joseph Ishill. In the last few months, several people have inquired about the library's collection of Ishill's works and correspondence. Is there a revival of interest in hand printing and/or anarchism? We don't know why Joseph Ishill is now on people's minds, but for anyone interested in the topic, below are pictures of two Ishill publications in the BHPL archive and a link to more images from the archive. BHPL's Ishill Archives can be seen by appointment only. Here is the link to the Ishill publications we have scanned into Google Documents so far.

Below are two original flyers made by Joseph Ishill to advertise a 10th library anniversary program and an exhibit of his wife's poetry at the Berkeley Heights Public Library.
Ishill's flyer for the 10th anniversary of the library
Ishill made the flyer for his wife's poetry exhibit

Related resources:

Area resident Chris R. Morgan's article about Free Acres, the utopian community founded in Berkeley Heights and Ishill's connection to it, can be found here:
Free Acres Is the Place to Be

BHPL's Google Documents folder contains the index to the Ishill Archives and some other scanned contents of the collection. This is a work in progress. More of the contents of the Ishill Archive will be scanned and added over time.

The Labadie Collection at the University of Michigan is one of the foremost collections of Ishill works
Works by and about Joseph Ishill

Joseph Ishill and the Authors and Artists of the Oriole Press

List of other Ishill resources at the University of Michigan

The University of Florida has a collection of Ishill works, see
A Guide to the Joseph Ishill Collection

The Houghton Library at Harvard University has a guide to its collection of works by and about Joseph Ishill

Alan Runfeldt's Excelsior Press, Frenchtown, NJ

Mr. Runfeldt grew up in Berkeley Heights, knew Mr. Ishill and has one of his presses as he shows in this blog post

Update 7/21/2017
From the Passaick to the Wach Unks by The Historical Society of Berkeley Heights, 1977 (call #974.936 FRO) pp 211-212 describes Joseph Ishill's time as a resident of Berkeley Heights from 1919 until his death in 1966.


Kathy Ferguson said...

Thank you for your post on Joseph Ishill. I am doing research on anarchist printers. I am particularly interested in Ishill's own description of the printing process - how did he talk about it? I am also very interested in the presses he used. If you know of any texts where Ishill talks about printing, please let me know.

Thank you.

Kathy Ferguson
Departments of Pol. Sci and Women's Studies
University of Hawai'i

Anne said...

Hi Kathy,
thanks for your comment. email me at and I will tell you what little I know about Joseph Ishill, including the contents of the archive at BHPL
Anne email me reference at bhplnj dot org

Kate Lang said...

I think it's great that you were able to track down the authors of the letters written to Mr. Ishill and they gave permission to publish them online. They are a very interesting read.