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William F. Wheatley papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: CSC-0170

Content Description

10 document boxes of publications and correspondence related to phototypesetting and digital font technologies. One folder of typesetting realia.


  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1930 - 2014


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to researchers.

Biographical / Historical

William F. Wheatley (1933 – 2015) was an important industry figure in the transition from Mono and Linotype to phototypesetting and eventual adoption of desktop typesetting. Wheatley worked at a number of major typesetting companies including: Varityper Corporation, Addressograph-Multigraph Corporation (AM), Digital Type Systems Ltd (DTS), Compugraphic Corporation, and Itek Corporation.

"Bill" Wheatley (1933–2015), born in Arlington Massachusetts, and graduated with an associates degree from the RIT School of Printing in 1956. He began his career in typesetting at Varityper Addressograph-Multigraph Corporation around 1964, predominantly within the Veritype division. Wheatley worked on the development, promotion, and licensing of typefaces and machines. After the closure of Varityper's European office and shortly before AM’s declaration of bankruptcy in 1982, Wheatley began working for Compugraphic around 1981, still in Europe. Wheatley worked closely with British, German, French, and American designers, often reinventing existing types for new languages and machines. In the 1980s Wheatley worked for Itek Corporation, which had a division in Rochester, New York. In 1986, Wheatley returned to America and began consulting work. In his later life, he settled in Spartansburg, South Carolina, remaining active with the letterpress community via the West Main Artists Co-op.

Wheatley published a number of books on the development and history of typesetting including Types Best Remembered/Types Best Forgotten with Robert Norton. Wheatley’s career required a coordination of machinery, chemistry, and design across international boundaries; it spanned across traditional type foundries to the digital typesetting in Adobe. Wheatley worked on the development of several global scripts including a Japanese telephone directory, U.S. military propaganda in Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Laotian, a commercial typeface in Greek, all for Varityper. He also worked on Arabic typefaces, including working for Al Aharam, an Egyptian newspaper. At Itek,

Wheatley worked on type development in Lebanon, Germany, France, and Scandinavia. This collection includes correspondence, character sheets, and character encoding from the production of global scripts.

Wheatley founded Digital Type Systems Ltd (DTS) in 1986 with Robert Norton, a British publisher and Microsoft employee. DTS operated in the United States, England, and Switzerland. DTS is apparent throughout this collection as a letterhead for much of Wheatley’s correspondence.


6 Linear Feet (10 document boxes)




The William F. Wheatley papers contain correspondence, business reports, and technical information about photo and digital typesetting machine systems from companies in Europe and the United States. It also holds type specimen books for Latin and global scripts. There is a limited assemblage of ephemera from the collector's travels, as well as examples of typographic machine matrices in the realia series.


This collection is arranged in three series.

Series I, Business Associates; Series II, Personal Papers; Series III, Typesetting Realia.

Physical Location

Cary Annex, Row 14

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by William F. Wheatley, circa 2000. Personal emails given by Amelia Hugill-Fontanel, 2023.

Related Materials


Kaup, Melissa K., "William Wheatley: A Retrospective" (1999). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed April 6, 2023, on
“William Wheatley Obituary,” Spartanburg Herald-Journal, November 24, 2015. Accessed April 6, 2023, on
Messenger, Robert, “Varityper’s Century of Typesetting,” Canberra, Australia: OzTypewriter, January 19, 2015. Accessed April 6, 2023 on


William F. Wheatley papers
Arianna McQuillen, Amelia Hugill-Fontanel
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Cary Graphic Arts Collection Repository

Rochester NY 14623 US
(585) 475-2408