And the pioneer printer and university president who started it all.
Stanford University Press—or at least the idea of it—was born in March 1891 in Bloomington, Indiana. It was there that Leland and Jane Stanford offered the presidency of their new university to David Starr Jordan, then the president of Indiana University. Between the time the offer was made and the Stanfords’ departure the next day, Jordan drew up a memo of understanding for the Stanfords’ approval—“I should like your assent to the following propositions,” Jordan wrote, of which there were four. The fourth and final proposition read: “That provision be made for the publication of the results of any important research on the part of professors or advanced students. Such papers may be issued from time to time as ‘Memoirs of the Leland Stanford Junior University.’” The Stanfords accepted his terms, and the university, with Jordan at the helm, opened in October 1891. The campus’s first publishing ventures were not long in following: In September 1892, it launched the Leland Stanford Junior University Monographs series, and with its first publication, Stanford University Press was born.
Or at least, part of it. For that exact same year, Julius Andrew Quelle, a member of Stanford’s inaugural “pioneer class,” established a printing facility on campus—what would come to be known colloquially as “the Stanford University Press.” And though university publications were occasionally shopped out to printers in nearby San Jose or San Francisco, it was Quelle who, out of his cramped quarters in the university power plant, printed the first two books to bear the SUP imprint as it appears today. And it was by President Jordan’s request that the imprint appear on all of the books produced for the university in Quelle’s small shop—a shop that in only a few decades would become the property of the university and an award-winning publishing house.
Thus it was in these parallel strands—President Jordan’s commitment to publish works from the academic community and Quelle’s entrepreneurial endeavors as the campus pressman—that the origins of Stanford University Press are to be found. And this year marks 125 years since both the establishment of Quelle’s print shop and the debut of the university’s first-ever publication. How these two pioneers—Stanford’s first president and one of its first students—laid the groundwork for the publishing tradition at Stanford reveals a great deal about the charter and character of the university in its earliest days, not to mention the mandate that continues to animate the work bearing the SUP imprint.
This year marks 125 years since both the establishment of Quelle’s print shop and the debut of the university’s first-ever publication.