Frank McCaffrey collection, 1913-1995  PDF  XML

Overview of the Collection

McCaffrey, Frank, 1894-1985
Frank McCaffrey collection
1913-1995 (inclusive)
20.8 linear feet, (17 boxes, 1 oversize folder)
Collection Number
Frank McCaffrey was a prominent publisher and printer in the Pacific Northwest. This collection contains books, newspapers, and other printed material from the Dogwood Press and Acme Press.
Whitman College and Northwest Archives
Whitman College and Northwest Archives
Penrose Library, Room 130
345 Boyer Avenue
Walla Walla, WA
Telephone: 509-527-5922
Fax: 509-526-4785
Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Frank McCaffrey (1894-1985) was a letterpress printer, publisher, politician, and artist. He was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and moved to Spokane, Washington with his family at the age of four. Fascinated from a young age by printing, he began an apprenticeship in Spokane. By 1913, he was living in Seattle and working as a journeyman printer. Seattle would remain McCaffrey's home and workspace for the rest of his life. In 1919 McCaffrey bought Acme Press, a commercial publishing firm in Seattle. He founded Dogwood Press in 1931 as a trademark within Acme. At Dogwood, McCaffrey printed "for the pleasure of the doing" and in printing, he saw "the same opportunity for subtle expression of personality as painting or modeling." His central artistic goal was for a book's presentation to reflect and enhance its content. Some hallmarks of the Dogwood style included rough, untrimmed page edges and stout boards covered with patterned cloth. McCaffrey used the Dogwood trademark for many of his finest and most limited productions. For McCaffrey, printing had always been a personal pursuit, and the Dogwood Press was his personal creative outlet. He sold Acme Press in 1952, but retained Dogwood. He continued printing, and published a number of small paperback pamphlets for friends, as well as the occasional hardbound book. His books covered a broad range of topics and themes, and often championed Seattle authors and Seattle history. In the early 1980s, he donated a large quantity of his printing materials to the nascent book arts program at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington.

McCaffrey was also an involved citizen; he served on Seattle's city council for two-and-a-half years and ran for mayor twice. Frank McCaffrey died in Seattle in 1985, at age 90. In an obituary, Seattle Weekly wrote: "His rich life, with a dash of politics thrown in, recalled the Greek ideal of devotion to beauty and a commitment to public life."

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

This collection houses books, pamphlets, newspapers, and maps printed or written by Frank McCaffrey at the Dogwood Press and Acme Press from 1913 to 1995. Many books and printed materials are written by Henry Broderick, a Seattle historian and civic leader. Other items include menus, cards, unfinished manuscripts, typesetting materials, correspondence, letters, photographs, and postcards associated with McCaffrey. There are also lists of book printed by the Dogwood Press from approximately 1980 to 1986.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Acquisition Information

Donated to the Whitman College and Northwest Archives by multiple sources including Lou Ella Hart, Harriette Robinson, Samuel J. Fosdick, Glenn Dexter, and Richard E. Ritz. The accession numbers are retro-0090 and retro-0350 and retro-0789. Some additional material was likely purchased and added to this collection by library staff.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Printing presses

Corporate Names

  • Acme Press (Seattle, Wash.)
  • Dogwood Press


  • Printers--Washington (State)--Seattle