Henry J. Kaiser’s Wartime Speeches Book: Industry Meets Art

posted on December 2, 2015

Lincoln Cushing
Heritage writer

 

Spine - 26 Addresses Delivered During the War Years by Henry J. Kaiser: September 13th, 1942 to July 19th, 1945Unquestionably, the most beautiful document in the Kaiser Permanente heritage archives is a handmade book printed in November 1945, Twenty-Six Addresses Delivered During the War Years by Henry J. Kaiser: September Thirteenth, Nineteen Hundred and Forty-Two to July Nineteenth, Nineteen Hundred and Forty Five.

These speeches covered a wide range of subjects, including “Management Looks at the Post War World: An Address before the Forty-Seventh Annual Congress of American Industry, New York City, December 4, 1942,” “Launching the First Aircraft Carrier at Vancouver, Washington, April 5, 1943,” “Building the Future: An Address before the Conference of the National Committee on Housing, Chicago, Illinois, March 9, 1944,” and a speech before the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union at Times Hall, New York City, January 26, 1945.

But impressive though the speeches were, the book itself is a remarkable and beautiful object.

 

Drop capital, Twenty-Six Addresses Delivered During the War Years by Henry J. Kaiser : September Thirteenth, Nineteen Hundred and Forty-Two to July Nineteenth, Nineteen Hundred and Forty Five.t was printed by Edwin and Robert Grabhorn from type designed by the American typographer Frederic W. Goudy (1865­­–1947) who created 116 typefaces and published 59 books and whose typefaces have remained a standard to this day. The type was hand set by Jane Grabhorn. The luscious deckle-edged (untrimmed) paper was made by Canson et Montgolfier in France.

Page from Twenty-Six Addresses Delivered During the War Years by Henry J. Kaiser : September Thirteenth, Nineteen Hundred and Forty-Two to July Nineteenth, Nineteen Hundred and Forty Five.The Grabhorn brothers came to San Francisco from the Midwest in 1919 and immediately established themselves as creative and talented fine book printers. California-born Jane Bissell married Robert Grabhorn in 1923, and in 1938 she and William Mo Roth started the Colt Press, an independent commercial publishing venture.

Grabhorn Press closed in 1965 and re-emerged in 1974 as the Arion Press under the direction of Andrew Hoyem. It remains one of San Francisco’s preeminent craft presses.

 

Upon opening the book one is struck by ornate, golden drop capital letters drawn by painter, printmaker, muralist, and illustrator Harold Mallette Dean (1907–1975). During the Great Depression Dean worked on the Works Progress Administration’s Mural Project and was one of 26 artists selected to paint murals at San Francisco’s Coit Tower. In 1935 he began a 15-year career illustrating books for Grabhorn Press.

 

Drop capital, Twenty-Six Addresses Delivered During the War Years by Henry J. Kaiser : September Thirteenth, Nineteen Hundred and Forty-Two to July Nineteenth, Nineteen Hundred and Forty Five.

he 2-inch square drop caps illustrating each speech are sublime. A single red letter is surrounded by a gold foil stamped image, all relating to some subject of the speech.

Drop capital, Twenty-Six Addresses Delivered During the War Years by Henry J. Kaiser : September Thirteenth, Nineteen Hundred and Forty-Two to July Nineteenth, Nineteen Hundred and Forty Five.An “I” is an I-beam with geometric drawings and a small helicopter. Another “I,” for a speech on the 10th anniversary of American-Soviet diplomatic relations, shows the American eagle paired with a Soviet Union hammer and sickle over the Kremlin.

 

Drop capital, Twenty-Six Addresses Delivered During the War Years by Henry J. Kaiser : September Thirteenth, Nineteen Hundred and Forty-Two to July Nineteenth, Nineteen Hundred and Forty Five.“A’s” highlight two of the famous whirley cranes as well as the classic clasped hands of labor-management partnership.

“M” shows the distinctive profile of a Victory ship. An “O” features a mass of workers engaged in the various defense industry trades. Interestingly, another “O” shows the distinctive bow of a C2-F class freighter – none of which were ever built in Kaiser shipyards.

Drop capital, Twenty-Six Addresses Delivered During the War Years by Henry J. Kaiser : September Thirteenth, Nineteen Hundred and Forty-Two to July Nineteenth, Nineteen Hundred and Forty Five.One “T” has billowing smokestacks of the Fontana steel mill; another a crouched miner with a headlamp.

Drop capital, Twenty-Six Addresses Delivered During the War Years by Henry J. Kaiser : September Thirteenth, Nineteen Hundred and Forty-Two to July Nineteenth, Nineteen Hundred and Forty Five. illustrates a speech given at the launching of the S.S. Berry Victory at the Kaiser Richmond shipyards on May 19, 1945. The image is of two Czechoslovakian citizens in traditional dress; tucked into the upper corner a heraldic lion from the Czechoslovakian coat of arms gently drops its paw on the letter’s top edge. The Berry Victory was sponsored by the wife of Vladimir Hurban, a member of the CzechoSlovak National Council, which served as their government in exile.

 

Through this book, Industry met Art and clasped hands – an appropriate testament to Henry J. Kaiser’s contributions to victory in World War II.

 

To come: Excerpts from these speeches.
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3 Responses to “Henry J. Kaiser’s Wartime Speeches Book: Industry Meets Art”

  1. What a wonderful article, and beautiful book!
    I’m looking forward to the excerpts from the speeches to come in the future!
    I realize it might be costly, but is there any plan to print some type of reprint or facsimile edition – or at least to get the speeches out into the KP public? I am certainly interested and I’m sure there are others interested too!!
    Thank you,
    Alfred Minichiello

  2. LCushing says:

    I’m working on scanning the whole text and hope to post it on this site early in 2016. The speeches are quite amazing, and reveal a lot about the depth of Henry J. Kaiser’s character and vision.

  3. Dalia Alvarez says:

    How exciting! Can’t wait to read the speeches.

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