Stuart Teacher collection of Running Press material
Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Stuart "Buz" Teacher (1947-) and Lawrence "Larry" Teacher (1941-2014) were born in Philadelphia (with the last name "Lesnick," which they later changed) and grew up in Washington, D.C. with their mother and stepfather, Zelda and David Shuwall. Stuart Teacher did not particularly enjoy school (he enrolled at the Woodward School after being asked to leave the public school system of Bethesda, MD), but he and his brother both received an informal yet effective education in bookselling from their stepfather, who owned an independent bookstore. Teacher began his undergraduate career at the University of Miami before transferring to the University of Pennsylvania where he studied psychology and submatriculated into a masters program under Dr. Marvin Wolfgang at the Center for Study in Criminology and Criminal Law. To pay for graduate school, Teacher worked in the record bootlegging business under the name "Uncle Wiggley" and in conjunction with Sky Forest Enterprises, a small record and concert company based in Los Angeles. Also around this time, Stuart Teacher was employed at the Discount Encyclopedia Center, a business his brother Larry had established at 38 South 19th Street in Philadelphia.
In 1972, Larry and Stuart Teacher founded Running Press, which, in its early years, operated out of the building of the Discount Encyclopedia Center. Running Press began by publishing books in the public domain, particularly those which appealed to interests in environmentalism and craftsmanship present in the early 1970s. As Larry Teacher described it, the criteria for Running Press' first books were that they could "tell a person how to do something, be something or make something." Although Stuart Teacher had been invited by Dr. Wolfgang to participate in a PhD program at the University of Pennsylvania, he gave up his graduate studies around 1973 as Running Press became an increasingly promising (and time consuming) business venture. With an emphasis on a strong backlist, Running Press grew to be one of the most successful independent publishers in the nation by the mid 1980s, a position that was strengthened in 1989 with the company's release of The Miniature Editions, a very popular series of palm-sized books. In 1980, Larry and Stuart Teacher purchased a townhouse (commissioned by John Christian Bullitt in 1889) at 125 South 22nd Street to serve as the new headquarters of Running Press and began what would be a lengthy restoration of the building.
In 1994, Larry retired from Running Press and sold his shares of the company to his brother. That same year, Running Press released Sisters, a book of photo essays authored by Carol Saline and Larry Teacher's wife, Sharon Wohlmuth (Saline and Wohlmuth had signed with Running Press in 1993). According to a Philadelphia Magazine article ("Brothers") written by Benjamin Wallace in 2000, Sisters was an unexpected financial success but caused an "estrangement" between Stuart and Larry Teacher. First, Wohlmuth and Saline signed with Doubleday instead of Running Press to produce Mothers & Daughters, a sequel to Sisters. A month before Mothers & Daughters was scheduled to go on sale, Running Press released Daughters and Mothers, at a significantly lower price. This competition soured the relationship first between Stuart Teacher and Sharon Wohlmuth, and then between the Teacher brothers, culminating in a bitter fight in 1997, after which the brothers did not speak for several years.
In 2002, Stuart Teacher (by then the sole CEO of Running Press) entered negotiations with the Perseus Book Group, a New York City based company, to sell Running Press. Running Press became one of the eight imprints owned by Perseus Books, but continues to operate in Philadelphia. Teacher maintained a management position at Running Press and served on Perseus Books' board of directors for one year before resigning from both positions in 2003. Larry Teacher passed away in 2014 and as of 2016, Stuart Teacher is the CEO of the Burgess Lea Press, a cookbook publishing company.
Blooston, George. "Running Running Press." Reprinted from Publisher's Weekly, December 12, 1986.
Wallace, Benjamin. "Brothers." Philadelphia Magazine, volume 91, number 4 (2000): 66-69, 160-165.
Collection notes composed by Stuart Teacher, circa 2015.
This collection contains published works, personal papers, business records and ephemera assembled by Stuart "Buz" Teacher, the publisher and CEO of Running Press from 1972 to 2003. The first series in the collection (circa 1948-2001) contains Teacher's personal papers, largely relating to his education and employment prior to founding Running Press. The second series, spanning the years from 1972 to 2007, includes papers related to Running Press such as news coverage, documentation of business trips and files regarding the sale of Running Press to the Perseus Books Group in 2002. The third series in the collection (1969-1994) contains works that served as inspiration for Running Press, such as the Whole Earth Catalog and similar publications. The final series in the collection (circa 1866-2013) contains materials related to the history of the Bullitt building at 125 South 22nd street in Philadelphia, which served for a time as the headquarters of Running Press and was restored by Stuart Teacher in the 1980s and 1990s.
A large childhood photograph (circa 1948) of Stuart Teacher and his brother and business partner, Lawrence ("Larry") is in series one, along with Stuart Teacher's high school yearbook (1964), diploma (1965), and a folder containing his tenth grade report card, University of Pennsylvania student ID, curriculum vitae and a letter from the dean of students at the University of Miami (circa 1963-1970). This series also contains "Feedback and "Washout" Effects in the Prisoner's Dilemma Game," a scholarly article written by Teacher and two others and published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (1968), and "Differential Association: A Theory of Criminal Behavior," Teacher's masters thesis (circa 1970). Other documents in this series include a photocopy of the 1968 legal certification of Teacher's name change (he was born Stuart Lesnick), a letter regarding visa application from the Embassy of Jamaica (1971), a custom-made designer kit presented to Teacher as a gift in 1974 and a telephone and address book that Teacher maintained in the early 1970s. According to Teacher, this book includes "all of my relationships in the early period" of Running Press, and it has another University ID taped to its back cover. Stuart Teacher's correspondence dates from 1973 to 2001; many of these letters and cards relate quite closely to Running Press business or Teacher's professional life, and exemplify the personal ties he maintained with his co-workers. Papers and objects that relate to Teacher's pre- Running Press employment at his brother's encyclopedia store and in the record bootlegging business are also included in this series.
The second series in the collection pertains to Running Press' early years in the 1970s and its development through 2007. It contains miscellaneous papers and correspondence that were enclosed in a folder "from the original short-lived Running Press location at 38 South 19th Street" as well as a photocopy of the company's first advertisement and the only published work of Running Press in this collection, Solar Energy: A Better Understanding by Harold R. Hay, which was reprinted in 1975. Also included is a "concept proposal" for a graphic novel, which has the intended cover for the book bound around the text of another work, to simulate the look of the final product. Three composition books from around 1972 and 1973 are filled with handwritten notes on Running Press business such as pricing calculations, telephone contacts, and sales and printing information. Another folder contains a list of expenses charged to Running Press in 1978. Running Press' income tax returns from 1980 and 1985 are included, as is a 1987 settlement agreement with William Morrow & Co. regarding a libel suit filed by Running Press over defamatory information in the book Saturday Night: A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live published by Morrow & Co. Professional recognition of Running Press, namely publishing awards (1981-1986) and a copy of Philadelphia Publishers and Printers: an Informal History by R. Kenneth Bussy (1976) are included in this series. News coverage of the company consisits of three issues of Publisher's Weekly (1991, 1994, 1998), and one reprinted article from that magazine (1986), two articles regarding a falling-out between Stuart and Larry Teacher published in Philadelphia Magazine (2000) and The Philadelphia Inquirer (1996), a copy of an article published in Philadelphia Magazine in 1981 and two articles about Perseus Books and Time Warner's book division, which were previously enclosed with the information on the sale of Running Press to Perseus Books.
Teacher travelled extensively on Running Press business, mainly to the Frankfurt Book Fair, London Book Fair, Bologna Children's Book Fair, BookExpo America (BEA), American Booksellers Association (ABA) and Advanced Marketing Services (AMS) fair, though he also took trips to Hong Kong and Australia, and to the B. Dalton and Walden book fairs. Documents pertaining to travel are included in series two, such as passports issued to Stuart Teacher in 1979, 1984, 1994 and 2004, twenty notebooks with corresponding itineraries that outline Teacher's schedule and meetings, a 1982 floor pass to the Frankfurt Book Fair and photographs from several Running Press business trips.
Additional files in this series contain documents (mostly correspondence from 2006 and 2007) regarding Teacher's professional collaboration with Lawrence Kirshbaum, a 2005 consulting proposal Teacher presented to White Heat book packaging company and business communications including a letter from Adele Herman of Como Sales (1996), a letter from Dr. Emanuel Bronner authorizing Running Press to use copyrighted material (1974), and a telex from Stuart Teacher to Larry Teacher related to a Hong Kong business trip (1985). The series also includes three invitations to Running Press staff parties (1996, undated), a custom-printed Running Press notebook, notecards and letterhead (undated), ephemera related to Running Press employees, an original piece of artwork (for a book cover) and promotional merchandise. A Running Press directory of employees and business contacts (2000-2003) and a 1998 employee census are also included in series two.
A set of papers (1993-2007, undated) in this series relates to the sale of Running Press to the Perseus Books Group in 2002, and Teacher's resignation from Perseus Running Press in 2003. Some of these files are restricted until 2025 (see container list) per Teacher's request. Teacher's original folder-level arrangement of these papers has largely been preserved, and includes a copy of Running Press' publishing contract after its acquisition by Perseus Books, a list of publishing companies based in the United States, documentation of the sale of Running Press to Perseus Books, documents and correspondence relating to Jack McKeown (CEO of Perseus Books Group from 1997 to 2004), papers and correspondence of the Executive Committee and Board of Directors of Perseus Books, documentation of the sale of "Special Favors" (a process for customizing book jackets) and employee contracts from 1995 to 2002 as well as financial records and documents relating to the termination of Teacher's employment at Perseus Books.
The third series in this collection contains a variety of published materials that inspired Running Press, particularly books and periodicals (like the Whole Earth Catalog) from the late 1960s and 1970s. Also included is a set of five small art books produced by Harenberg publishers in Germany, with whom Teacher collaborated.
The fourth series in this collection contains materials related to the early history of the Bullitt residence at 125 South 22nd Street (different from the now-demolished Bullitt building at 131 South 4th Street) as well as documentation of a restoration that Larry and Stuart Teacher carried out on the building over the course of more than a decade, starting around 1983. Some of the materials in this series were found in the house during the renovation, and are unrelated to the Teachers and Running Press, such as a school notebook belonging to "Ellie Martin" from around 1866, an early twentieth century photograph album of a baby referred to as "Chubby" (along with notes on the history of some castles and a hotel receipt from a 1930 trip to France), another album of Chubby and her sister Margery and a set of papers pertaining to the education of three brothers, Ellison, Eugene and Theodore Lammot dated between 1908 and 1921. Also present in this series are research materials that Teacher collected on the Bullitt family and residence, including a printed article on William Christian Bullitt (originally published in 1933), two obituaries of Ann Moen Bullitt (2007; one printed and one a clipping), a photocopied page from King's Views of Philadelphia showing 125 South 22nd Street, and photocopies of obituaries for John Christian Bullitt (1902) and William Christian Bullitt (1967) along with a small undated album of color photographs of the John C. Bullitt statue at Philadelphia City Hall.
This series contains two copies of an application for the Bullitt residence to be placed on the Nation Register of Historic Places (1985), construction permits (1983), a letter of approval from the Philadelphia Historical Commission (2013) and a letter approving a tax-free loan for the restoration project (1984). Other files in the series contain a budget and outlines of the stages of the restoration, sometimes in the form of correspondence between Teacher and Edwin Bronstein Associates (the architecture firm involved in the restoration), a number of large technical drawings (1980-1984, undated) by Edwin Bronstein Associates and proposals, estimates and invoices from the architects and a number of contractors and vendors. Several folders hold extensive photographic documentation (circa 1985) of the restoration including a small photograph album with images of renovation work and what seems to be a retirement party. Building appraisals (2005-2008) related to Larry Teacher's sale of his partial ownership of the building to Stuart Teacher are present, and so are papers and photographs related, in Teacher's words, "to a crisis caused by architect Dale Frens providing significant misinformation about the building façade at a hearing before the Philadelphia Historic Commission which led to the building being condemned in 2008" (the façade was later repaired). Two more files in this collection contain faxes from Edwin Bronstein Associates (1995) regarding work done on 127 South 22nd Street, also owned by Teacher at that time, and a letter about construction work on an adjacent property along with a relatively recent (but undated) lease advertisement for the Bullitt residence.
Gift of Stuart Teacher, 2015.
- American periodicals
- Authors and publishers
- Publishers and publishing
- Book industries and trade
- University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
- Finding Aid Author
- Rive Cadwallader
- Finding Aid Date
- 2016 May 19
- Access Restrictions
Series one, three, four and files one through twenty-nine of series two (boxes one to four and seven to eleven, along with folders three to five of box six) are open for research use. However, files thirty through forty of series two (box five and folders one and two in box six) are restricted until 2025.
- Use Restrictions
Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.