Tools of the Trade Examines Writing Practice Through the Ages

Learn more about the history of writing practice in our temporary exhibit Tools of the Trade, which opened June 22 in the Roberta Rubin Writer’s Room. This exhibit examines the tools that have made writing possible through the years, including typewriters, inkwells, braille writers and more. Featuring the actual writing implements used by renowned writers such as Sandra Cisneros, Gwendolyn Brooks, Ray Bradbury and more, this is your chance to see the very instruments used by writers to write some of America’s most revered literature.

With more than a dozen typewriters on loan from the impressive collection of Steve Soboroff, these trusty machines represent a broad range of styles, from Ernest Hemingway’s 1926 portable Underwood to Maya Angelou’s electric Adler Meteor from 1980. Also featured are typewriters used by Truman Capote, Mae West, Hugh Hefner, Jerry Siegel, John Lennon, Mildred Benson, Orson Welles, Tennessee Williams, Gore Vidal, and Jack London. You can learn more about each of these writers and their typewriters by reading our Typewriter Tuesday blog series below.

In addition to typewriters, other writing instruments on display include Helen Keller’s braille writer, Frederick Douglass’s inkwell, and Frances Parkinson Keyes’s pens. Exact replicas of some of the typewriters are in our Story of the Day exhibit for visitors to use. Evening programs explore the craft of writing and the authors represented in the exhibit.


Hugh M Hefner foundation sponsor

Irv & Carol



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