The Otto and Marie Neurath Isotype Collection
The Otto and Marie Neurath Isotype Collection is the most comprehensive archive of Isotype materials. It documents methods of designing and disseminating data that have played a major role in twentieth-century graphic design thinking. Given to the University of Reading by Marie Neurath in 1971, the collection includes documents, correspondence, published works, and artefacts relating to the history, principles, working methods, and products of Isotype, from its beginnings in 1920s Vienna through to its later incarnations in The Hague, Oxford, and London.
Holdings of particular interest include correspondence and business papers of the Isotype Institute covering the period 1941-67; an extensive collection of books, periodicals, and pamphlets containing Isotype work published in Austria, Britain, the Netherlands, the Soviet Union, the United States, and West Africa; collections of writings and bibliographies of Otto and Marie Neurath, and other commentators on Isotype; original large-format exhibition charts from the 1930s; copies of the Isotype's most important publication Gesellschaft und Wirtshaft (1930); several versions of the Isotype 'Picture dictionary'; extensive photographic records of early charts, beginning in the 1920s; Isotype films and filmstrips; working materials including sketches, printing blocks, proofs, and types; children's books produced by Marie Neurath for the publisher Max Parrish; a collection of early maps, plans, prints, books, and other graphic matter that served as source material for Isotype work; and prints by contemporary modernist artists including Gerd Arntz, Frans Masereel, and Georg Grosz.
The Isotype Collection offers excellent opportunities for scholars interested in European social history between the World Wars, inter-War modernism, the history of information design, and campaigns and initiatives that address social and economic planning, public health, housing, and other dimensions of life. The collection will be equally valuable to anyone involved in the graphic design of data, museum design, or the communication of complex issues to children, particularly in history, and in the natural and physical sciences.