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Noel Martin papers

Identifier: US-11-05

Scope and Content

This collection documents the career of Noel Martin. It consists mainly of correspondence, posters, publications and writings; there are a few items of a personal nature. The correspondence contains data on graphic design, modern art, and the individuals and institutions in the field with whom Noel Martin communicated. Some of the topics represented in the publications and posters, of which most were designed by Noel Martin, relate to various subjects, such as Cincinnati history, German-Americans in Cincinnati, Jewish-American local and international history and scholarship, and exhibitions at the Cincinnati Art Museum. All of the materials in the Noel Martin papers provide insight into graphic design and modern art during the life, times and career of this internationally known graphic designer. Among other formats found throughout this collection are photographs, negatives, slides and artifacts, such as awards. The inclusive dates for the collection are 1948-2008.


  • 1948-2008


Language of Materials

The records are in English and German

Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research.

Biography of Noel Martin

Noel Martin was born on April 19, 1922, in Syracuse, Ohio. When he was a child, his family moved to Cincinnati, where he spent the remainder of his life. He studied painting, drawing and print-making at the Art Academy of Cincinnati in 1939-1941 and 1945-1947, between which he married his wife, Coletta, and served in the military. During World War II he served in a camouflage unit in the Army Air Force, where he made catalogs and brochures. While making educational film strips for the Army in New York he was exposed to modern art for the first time, which later influenced his work. He trained himself in the art of typography and graphic design. He became a designer for the Cincinnati Art Museum in 1947 and in 1949 began offering his services as a free-lance designer and art director to a variety of firms.

In 1951 he began teaching design and commercial art at the Art Academy of Cincinnati and worked there until 1957. In 1953 he was one of four designers featured in the Four American Designers exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, by which time he'd already become nationally known. He received the Art Director's Medal in Philadelphia in 1957.

In 1958 he redesigned The New Republic from cover to cover. Martin (1959) said, "Good typography for magazines is generally typography which is free of animation and the necessary tricks of advertising, and is functional."* He used typeface Palatino and uncluttered the cover, making sure to leave white space throughout the publication. In 1959, he wrote several articles on the relationship between modern art and graphic design.

He continued designing for the Cincinnati Art Museum throughout his life. He designed numerous booklets, books, calendars, catalogs, corporate logos, flyers, magazines, newsletters, stationary and posters throughout the following decades. Some of the firms and institutions he designed for on a free-lance basis include Champion Paper Company, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Federated Department Stores, General Electric, LeBlond Ltd., Standard Oil Company, The United Fine Arts Fund, University of Cincinnati, and Xomox Corporation. He also designed corporate logos for institutions, such as Advance Mortgage Corporation, the Contemporary Arts Center, and Black Clawson, most of which were minimalist in nature. He was featured in various editions of Who's Who in America, Who's Who in Graphic Art and Who's Who in Advertising.

He was featured in numerous exhibits locally, nationally, and internationally. He wrote several articles and gave numerous lectures throughout his career. He died of leukemia on February 23, 2009.

*Martin, N. (1959, October). "On Redesigning the New Republic." Art Direction.


11 Linear Feet (30 boxes)


This collection traces the professional development of graphic designer Noel Martin from 1948-2008. Noel Martin, a Cincinnatian, worked with a number of institutions, most notably the Cincinnati Art Museum, and with a variety of mediums.

Statement of Arrangement

The Noel Martin papers are organized into the following thirteen series: Series I. Biographical materials, Series II. Correspondence, Series III. Exhibits, Series IV. Miscellaneous, Series V. Newspaper and Journal Clippings, Series VI. Photographs and Slides, Series VII. Projects, Series VIII. Posters and Proofs, Series IX. Publications, Series X. Scrapbook, Series XI. Sketches, Series XII. Subject files, and Series XIII. Writings by Martin.

Physical Location

Archives and Rare Books Library

Finding aid for the Noel Martin papers, 1948-2008
Edited Full Draft
Finding aid prepared by Lee Ann McNabb
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Archives and Rare Books Library Repository

8th Floor Blegen Library
2602 University Circle
P.O. Box 210113
Cincinnati Ohio 45221-0113