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Ralph Douglass Papers

Identifier: UNMA-173

Scope and Content Note

The Ralph Douglass papers contain materials related to Douglass’ work to create and gain NCAA approval for a new numerical font, Modern Gothic, to be used on football jerseys as a more legible alternative to the block font. Douglass argued his font could be more easily spotted and read by fans, journalists, people watching games on television, and especially in blurred photographs. The collection contains correspondence, news clippings, stencils, copyright information, advertisements, and an interview transcript. Also included are photographs of Modern Gothic used on football jerseys during games as well as a side by side comparison of fonts.


  • 1954-1964


Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication of print and photographic material is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for compliance with all copyright, privacy, and libel laws. Permission is required for publication or distribution.

Biographical Note

Ralph Waddell Douglass, professor and commercial artist, was born December 29, 1895 in St. Louis, Missouri. He graduated from Monmouth College in 1920 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He then continued his studies at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Academie Julian in Paris, and the Art Students League in New York. Douglass served as a staff artist and cartoonist with the Chicago Daily News from 1923-1929 before moving to Albuquerque to accept a teaching position in calligraphy and painting at the University of New Mexico. Douglass was chairman of the Department of Art from 1936 to 1945 and retired from the university in 1961. Douglass’ paintings were widely exhibited around the country and he was known in the art world for his ability to use calligraphy as an art form. He was author of the book, Calligraphic Lettering, published in 1948. He also co-authored many children’s books with Lloyd Tireman, including the Mesaland series. He died after a long illness in Albuquerque on May 5, 1971.


0.5 Cubic Feet (1 Box)


This is a small collection of papers of Ralph Douglass, a professor of Fine Arts at the University of New Mexico from 1929 through 1961. The papers cover the stencil work and design he created to increase readability for numbers on athletic jerseys.
Finding Aid of the Ralph Douglass Papers, 1954-1964
© 2013, 2016
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.

Repository Details

Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131