Openings: Title Pages in the History of Printed Books

Curated by the Students of History 441, English 407 and German 449: The Book in History | Fall 2022


Openings: Title Pages in the History of Printed Books explores the creativity and utility of an essential part of practically every modern book, the title page. Such pages signal and inform, incite pleasure and intrigue, as well as conceal and mislead. They are replete with fonts, colors, or images to indicate what makes a particular book special. Titles thus provide clues on the who, what, where, and when, urging readers to explore the why. 

The works shown here from the holdings of the University of Michigan Library illuminate critical moments in the history of books. They range from some of the first title pages in the history of print to twentieth-century title pages designed to camouflage the publication’s contents, spanning genres such as poetry, history, medicine, and politics. 

Open this exhibit as one opens a book to discover what title pages reveal. 

Note: The items selected for this exhibition represent cultural perspectives from a specific place or time. Some of the items contain culturally sensitive or racist material and may be considered offensive or objectionable to some audiences. This content is not provided as an endorsement from the library but offered to allow space for our community to confront challenging histories through scholarship and discussion. Please use your discretion while exploring this site. Individual pages that contain culturally sensitive or racist materials will also be labeled.