This list of female typeface designers is based upon preliminary research. My focus is on designers of alphabetic typefaces that were cast into metal by commercial foundries for use in printing.
This research was conducted through independent scholarship, and as such I have limited access to archival materials. My time and funding are limited as well. This is a very rich field for academic investigation and recovery; I am excited to continue this research as a potential Master’s project, with the hope of compiling a comprehensive catalogue of these women, their lives, and their work.
I’d like to acknowledge the contributions and assistance of: Graham Moss from Incline Press (England), Dan Reynolds (Germany) who shared part of his doctoral dissertation with me, and María Ramos (Spain), who was generously responsive to my inquiries on Anna Schildbach’s Montan.
1900 – 1920
(I am fortunate to own a set of each of these earliest typefaces, which is the best proof of their founding.)
1912: Hildegard Henning designs Belladonna in 1912 for Julius Klinkhardt (Germany). My exploratory research has yet to uncover substantial biographical information for Ms. Henning.
1916: Elizabeth Colwell designs Colwell Handletter and Italic for the American Type Foundry (Chicago).
1920 – 1950
1920’s (exact year not yet known to me): Franziska Baruch (Berlin 1901 – Palestine 1989) designs Stam, a Hebrew typeface, for the Berthold Type Foundry (Germany).
1938: Elizabeth Friedlander (1903-1984, b. Germany) designs Elizabeth Roman for Bauer Type Foundry (Germany). Ms. Friedlander is one of the more well-known of the women type designers and has a complex story, in part due to the fact that she was a Jewish woman born in Berlin. A biography of Ms. Friedlander, New Borders, was published by Incline Press in 1998. An archive of materials related to Ms. Friedlander is held at the University of Cork. There is a brief overview of her life and work on Princeton’s Unseen Hands website.
1950 – 1960
1951: Ilse Schule (Germany, 1903-1997) designs Rhapsodie for Ludwig and Mayer in 1951. [Source]
1951: Gudrun Zapf von Hess (Germany, born 1918) designs Diotima for the Stempel type foundry. Ferdinand Ulrich, who worked with Zapf von Hesse to digitize her typeface in 2018, the year of her 100th birthday, wrote a fantastic biography for FontShop.com