Yellow Barn Press ~ Iowa
(Neil Shaver)

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University of Iowa, Records of the Yellow Barn Press: "Growing up in Long Beach, California, Neil Shaver developed an interest in printing. He took a printing class in junior high from R. V. Stutsman, whom Shaver names among the three printers who had the most influence upon him. (The other two are Harry Duncan and John Anderson.) After serving in the Merchant Marine during World War II, Shaver moved to Omaha, where the family owned a chain of grocery stores called Shavers. In 1957, he returned to printing as a hobby. His output in the 1960s and 1970s was mostly job work for the grocery stores done on off set presses, but it was during this period that he acquired an antique Washington hand press, which he did not know how to operate. In 1964 he made contact with an Iowa City fine press printer, Kim Merker of the Windhover Press, who showed him how to use the Washington press. He started his career in fine printing by taking a class from Harry Duncan in 1978 at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, for whose class he produced Metonia, a book of poetry. "In 1966, Shaver and his wife Fran moved to rural Iowa, outside of Council Bluffs. On the property was a barn, which Shaver and Fran cleaned up and turned into his printing studio. Fran is credited with coming with the name Yellow Barn Press. In 1980, Shaver sold his grocery business and retired, turning his printing avocation into his vocation. He printed about two books a year. … Due to failing eyesight, Shaver closed the press in 2005, having brought out over thirty books."

A Year at the Sorbonne
A Proustian Life

By Oliver B. Pollak
Council Bluffs, Iowa: Yellow Barn Press, 2002. Edition of 150.

6 x 9"; 144 pages. Set in 12-point Monotype Garamond cast by Michael and Winifred Bixler on a Vandercook Universal III press. Wood engravings and pattern paper for the covers by Sandy Connors. Printed on mouldmade Frankfurt white paper. Bound by the Campbell-Logan Bindery. Case bound with pattern paper over boards and a linen cloth spine. In matching slipcase. Numbered.

Oliver Pollak, Preface: "This story is about learning, influences and experiences that led to a teaching career, and the impact teachers have on students. It is a story about balancing faith, profession, and affection. It is a study in alterity. It is a study of Jewish intellect permeating Western European culture and sensibilities.

"History relies on the chance survival of documents. I thank Neil Shaver for graciously providing his brother Elmo's diaries, his mother's 1946 diary, and Edna Blackwood's 1940 and 1946 summer travel journals, as well as his own memories."

Introduction: "Elmo Elton Shaver arrived in Paris in September 1937 to spend his junior year of college at the Sorbonne. He spent the rest of his life as a Francophile. He was born in 1916 in Kearney, Nebraska, and lived most his life in Long Beach, California. He never married and had no children. His posterity lies in the five thousand students he taught and in his sixty-three years of diaries."

Shaver's diaries spans almost two-thirds of the 20th century, providing a unique testimony to the world's events.

Oliver B. Pollak is an attorney, professor of history at the University of Nebraska Omaha and author. He is co-founder of the Nebraska Jewish Historical Society and has been on the board of the Nebraska Humanities Council and the Nebraska Center for the Book. He is a professor of history at the University of Nebraska at Omaha where he has taught since 1974.

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Page last update: 02.25.18


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