Today I pause to remember Robert Harlan, professor emeritus at the UC Berkeley School of Information and the Bancroft Library. He died on April 8th at the age of 84. He was an expert on the 19th-century San Francisco printing industry and the Bay Area fine-printing movement of the mid-20th century. He published several books, including a long monograph on John Henry Nash, and two pamphlets on Paul Elder.
Harlan’s research had a profound influence on my own work on Paul Elder & Company. When I started learning about bibliography and decided to specialize on Elder, I was acutely aware of my lack of academic credentials. This embarrassment was the chief reason I didn’t seek out Harlan in person, to my lasting regret.
Harlan was also the Ph.D. advisor for Ruth Gordon, whose 1977 thesis on Paul Elder was the original inspiration for my work.