This catalogue is published to accompany the University of Rochester Memorial Art Gallery's exhibition of the same name, the first major assembly of objects produced at the Roycroft community in upstate New York, under the leadership of Elbert Hubbard. A consummate entrpreneur who made a fortune from selling soap, Hubbard successfully married capitalism with the basic tenets of Arts and Crafts ideology. His enterprise was financially stable and provided a platform for broadcasting his position on big business, women's rights, holistic healing and environmental issues, at the same time offering manual training and employment for hundreds of unskilled country people. Although clearly influenced by the work of European designers, (a visit to William Morris's Kelmscott Press in 1894 had been an early and important influence), the Roycrofters sought to personify the best aspects of the American character in their work, which is strong, spare and refined. A sociological overview and the history of the Roycroft shops is examined in essays on the books, furniture, metalwork and leathercraft that they produced.
Other topics include the artists attracted to the community's creative environment, contemporary first-person impressions garnered from entries in the guest registers of the Roycroft Inn, and Hubbard's role in the creationof America's consumer culture through his trademark brand of advertising and promotion. Most of the 200 works in the exhibition are illustrated in colour; and photographs of personalities and places that figure in the Roycroft's history bring the community to life.