History of the Press

The University of Delaware Press was established in 1922 during the presidency of Walter Hullihen who believed,
“Nothing . . . excepting always sound scholarship and adequate equipment for instruction, redounds more to the credit of an educational institution or adds more to its prestige than a Press bearing its name, wisely administered, and issuing only books and journals of acknowledged and permanent value which carry to other institutions of learning and to educated men in all parts of the world the name of the institution. . . .” Sharing this vision were Everett Johnson, publisher of the Newark Post and owner of the Press of Kells and Dr. Joseph Odell, director of Service Citizens, a local organization supported by Pierre S. du Pont for the purpose of improving public schools in Delaware.

President Hullihen sought national recognition of University of Delaware research, and Dr. Odell was interested in publishing books on public health, education, community, and literary activities. Through the sale of stock, Service Citizens raised the working capital needed to establish the University of Delaware Press. Everett Johnson’s Press of Kells supplied a local source of high-quality printing. The collaboration promised to be beneficial to all, but the 1926 death of Everett Johnson and subsequent closing of the Press of Kells changed everything. Through the lean years that followed, the Press was inactive.

In 1949, a faculty publications committee initiated a monograph series, of which professor of English Anna J. DeArmond’s book, Andrew Bradford, Colonial Journalist, was the first published. Thereafter the University of Delaware Press entered into cooperative book-publishing agreements with other nearby, university presses, including Rutgers, New York University, and Temple.

In 1975, under the aegis of President E. A. Trabant, the University of Delaware Press joined Associated University Presses (AUP), a consortium of several Mid-Atlantic university presses, including Fairleigh Dickinson, Bucknell, Lehigh, and Susquehanna. This arrangement continued for thirty-five years and allowed the University of Delaware Press to maintain its own imprint and editorial control while giving AUP responsibility for producing and distributing the books.

On July 1, 2010, the University of Delaware Press joined Rowman & Littlefield (formerly Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group), a large, independent publisher of scholarly, trade, and popular books. Founded in 1975 by CEO Jed Lyons and his partners, RLPG is based in Lanham, MD. Its distribution centers are located in Blue Ridge Summit, PA, Boulder, CO, and Plymouth, England, with satellite offices in New York City, Chicago, Boston, and Toronto.

This partnership allows the University of Delaware Press to solicit and evaluate new manuscripts while maintaining editorial control. RLPG will assume responsibility for producing and distributing the books, with the additional advantages of being able to print-on-demand and to provide e-book services and global promotion. The University of Delaware Press publishes books in all fields of scholarship. Presently its major strengths are in literary studies, especially Shakespeare, Renaissance and Early Modern literature; Eighteenth-Century Studies; French literature; art history and history; and cultural studies of Delaware and the Eastern Shore.

External readers are selected from among distinguished scholars in the appropriate fields. Their reports, as well as evaluations by members of the editorial board, are weighed carefully and voted on by the board at its meetings during the academic year. The Board of Editors is currently chaired by Professor Donald C. Mell. His predecessor, Professor Jay Halio, chaired the Press from 1985 to June 1997. He was preceded by Professor James Merrill (1975-1985). The Board currently consists of faculty members from the departments of Art History, English, Foreign Languages and Literatures, History, and Philosophy, as well as the Vice Provost for Libraries ex-officio. Karen Druliner served as managing editor of the press from 1996-2011. Julia Oestreich currently serves as director.