Martha L. Carothers student artists' books collection

Biographical and Historical Notes

Martha L. Carothers is a book artist and professor of Art and Design at the University of Delaware specializing in graphic design and book arts (typography, book design, bookbinding, and letterpress printing). Her work as a book artist has exhibited nationally and internationally. Her books are part of museum and library collections including the Library of Congress, Museum of Modern Art, and Cooper-Hewitt Museum.

In 1983, Carothers began teaching ART 309, "Book Arts", at the University of Delaware. The course was designed to provide an overview of book arts, teach students binding and other construction methods, and guide student work in producing creative books. Course topics have included conceptualization and ideation, execution, pacing, use of appropriate materials, craft, and attention to deadlines. Students in the course have learned hands-on application of bookmaking tools such as adhesives, utility knives, bone folders, and binding boards. Students have been permitted complete creative freedom in designing their final projects.

From its inception, the course has emphasized the reproducibility of books. Therefore, students have been required to produce two identical copies (editions) of each creative book as the final project deliverable.

At the completion of each course, Professor Carothers returned one copy of the project to the student and retained the other in her personal collection for instructional use. She donated this collection to the University of Delaware Library in 2016 to be used as a teaching collection.


"Martha Carothers | University of Delaware." Martha Carothers | University of Delaware. Accessed April 29, 2019.

Other biographical information derived from collection.

Scope and Contents

The Martha L. Carothers student artists' books collection comprises over 500 artists' books created by students of Martha Carothers' ART 309 course at the University of Delaware from 1983 to 2016. The collection documents thirty-four years of student projects in the application of book-arts concepts and techniques. The artists' books are exemplary of study and experimentation in form, binding structure, papermaking, materials, typography, printing methods, narrative, and illustration. The works are arranged by their method of construction and range from common, classical, and/or traditional binding structures to highly unconventional structure- and sculpture-books. The projects incorporate a large assortment of materials including fabric, handmade paper, thread, rope, strings, plant matter, wood, metal, rubber, and plastic. Creators and titles of the books are identified throughout the collection, when known.