Washington University Libraries changed the name of the D.B. Dowd Modern Graphic History Library to Dowd Illustration Research Archive. Named for D.B. Dowd, designer, writer, illustrator, and professor of art at the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts, through the generosity of Ken and Nancy Kranzberg, the unique collecting area was established in 2007, and is devoted to original art and illustrations that capture the vast and diverse world of twentieth-century American visual culture.
The name change better emphasizes the identity and future development of the collection and the vision and mission of the University Libraries to prioritize original research and a broad range of teaching experiences with special collections. Nadia Ghasedi, associate university librarian for Special Collections Services, explained that the decision to change the name was driven by both practical and strategic considerations.
“DIRA has grown considerably since its inception both in collection size and impact. It’s an integral part of the Sam Fox School’s MFA in Illustration and Visual Culture for which DIRA curator Skye Lacerte and Joy Novak, head of special collections, teach six credits. As we work to recruit new students into the program as well as attract new collections and donors, we wanted a name that was more descriptive and easier to remember,” said Ghasedi.
Located in the West Campus Library, DIRA’s holdings include materials across 60 collections that range from designs by iconic illustrators to posters, comics, paintings, and art from books, magazines, and advertisements. Collectively, they document over 100 years of visual and cultural history and are extensively used for research and teaching purposes.