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Jeremiah B. Lighter graphic design work

Identifier: KA-0009-01


Jeremiah B. Lighter (1921-2013) was a New York-based artist, printmaker, graphic designer, typographer, illustrator, and teacher. This collection contains artwork and design project materials relating to his professional and personal artistic career. Dating primarily from the mid-1950s through the 1980s, materials include woodblocks and prints, original artwork and proofs of Lighter's book and album cover design projects, and advertisements.

The collection also includes examples of Lighter's work in acrylics, pen and ink, watercolors, and pencil, as well as items of a biographical nature, such as his professional presentation portfolio and flyers and press releases for exhibitions of his work.


  • 1923 - 2013



17.5 Cubic Feet (9 boxes, 4 small flat boxes, 6 OSx boxes, 5 OSxx boxes, 1 OSxxx box, 1 map case folder)

Language of Materials


Scope and Content of Collection

This collection contains artwork and design projects in a variety of materials and mediums pertaining to the professional and personal career of Jeremiah B. Lighter, a New York-based artist, printmaker, book and graphic designer, typographer, illustrator, and teacher.

The first series consists of Lighter’s original artworks--produced from the 1950s through the early 2000s--that could not be tied to any particular commercial design projects. Reflecting Lighter's activities as an independent artist, the materials in this series consist primarily of woodcut blocks and prints. Some of the print blocks contain writing and instructions on the back, so researchers are urged to examine all sides of these items. Additionally, Lighter’s work in acrylics, pen and ink, watercolors, and pencil sketchbooks can be found here.

The second series is organized around design projects Lighter undertook while working for design firms and publishing houses. Projects consist of design materials for advertisements, book covers, and restaurant menus. There are materials pertaining to Lighter’s longstanding work for the typography firm Kurt H. Volk, Inc., and the publishers Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Schocken Books, and Sheridan House. The book design materials run from the 1950s through the 1990s. Also included are original artwork and cover proofs for various record albums designed by Lighter for RCA Camden in the 1950s.

The third series contains biographical and personal material of Lighter from the 1950s to 2013, including a presentation portfolio, his signature print blocks, and exhibition notices and press releases.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use. Please contact for appointment.

Use Restrictions

To publish images of material from this collection, permission must be obtained in writing from the New School Archives and Special Collections. Please contact:

Biographical Note

Jeremiah B. Lighter--born on March 23rd, 1921 in Philadelphia to Julius and Sema Tabachnick Lighter--was an American artist, printmaker, book and graphic designer, typographer, illustrator, and teacher. After graduating from City College of New York, Lighter spent the majority of his life and career in New York City. Over the course of a career spanning from 1945 to 2008, he produced a body of work that includes advertisements, book design (for both commercial and scholastic presses), and original artworks, typically signing these works as “Lighter” or “Umy.”

Although he worked proficiently in a wide variety of mediums—including acrylics, pen and ink, and watercolors—Lighter had a special talent and inclination for woodcut prints, which he deployed across the spectrum of his design work. One of his woodcut prints was featured on the October 1954 cover of American Artist, while another (“Metamorphosis”) was featured prominently the catalogue of the 1956 “National Exhibition: Contemporary Arts of the United States.” His work, including both prints and watercolors, was featured in a number of exhibits and won international competitions, including the 2002 “Face to Face” competition at Stage Gallery.

During his career, Lighter was associated with a number of design firms and publishers. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, he produced advertisements and illustrations for the typography firm Kurt H. Volk, Inc. while designing book covers for trade publishers such as Random House and Emerson Books. From the 1960s through the 1990s, Lighter designed scholastic books primarily for publishers Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Schocken, and Sheridan House.

Alongside his career as an artist and designer, Lighter was an educator, teaching courses in book design at The New School, the School of Visual Arts, and Queens College. He was also an active hiker, bicyclist, chess player, kite flyer, and model boat enthusiast.

Lighter passed away on October 10, 2013 in Manhattan, having survived his wife of forty years, Gladys Spielberg. He is survived by a niece, Marina Bokelman, and nephews Jon and Andrew Bokelman.


Organized alphabetically in 3 series: 1. Original artwork, 1923-2006; 2. Graphic design project materials, 1953-1996; 3. Biographical, circa 1950s-2013.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Marina Bokelman, Jeremiah Lighter's niece, 2014.

External Support

The processing of this collection was supported by a gift from Marina Bokelman for the estate of Jeremiah Lighter.

Guide to the Jeremiah B. Lighter graphic design work
Aaron Winslow
March 10, 2016
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Revision Statements

  • November 6, 2018: New School Archives staff added Other Finding Aids note.