Greetings From the Underground

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The Composing Room, Inc., in New York City, was the most ambitious and progressive of all the type houses operating during the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s. Much of the credit goes to Dr. Robert Leslie and his staff. Smart printed material was issued regularly, and one example is a collection of front pages produced by “selfless patriots in the occupied countries who have risked death and worse a hundred times a day to write, to print, to deliver The Underground Press.” This is not the Sixties “sex, drugs and rock and roll” underground, or the alternative political press, but the real deal from the resistance in France, Eastern Europe, Holland, China, and Greece.

The sacrifices of World War II should never be forgotten. The Composing Room’s Ruth Pearse wrote the text and designer (Pvt.) Rudy Bass designed the booklet. Take a moment to read the words and ponder the front pages. Happy holidays to all.


For more Steven Heller, check out Citizen Designer: Perspectives on Design Responsibility—one of the many Heller titles available at

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About Steven Heller

Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.View all posts by Steven Heller →