Martha Scotford

Born in Manhattan; grew up in the Bronx and Westchester until 13. At age four helped (really!) parents build a modern house in southern Vermont for skiing; this became year round vacation place for family. Two younger sisters added. We drove from New York to Vermont almost every weekend‚ then my father got his dream job at Dartmouth, his alma mater, and we moved to Hanover, NH. Beautiful small town and children free to roam. Began love affair with college towns (and have lived in one ever since); Dartmouth then all male; learned to rock climb with mountaineering club because my father was advisor (and climber). Short athletic career in field hockey.

Less enchanted with single sex education by the time I was choosing; went to Oberlin College in Ohio (and missed the mountains). Art History major; studio courses; back stage theater work; low level 60s agitation. Whatever I know about music I absorbed at Oberlin through amazing concerts (I have seen Stravinsky conduct). Lived in a co-op (co-ed cooking, women in residence). Met future husband (government major and one year behind me) in the co-op. Art History jobs were limited and not cool in the late 60s; I realized my parents' jobs in design were interesting. Rejected by Yale (only master's program then for non-art majors). Told to go build a better portfolio; spent next year at art school in west of England, hitchhiked around Europe as far as Greece on the holidays. Got into Yale on second try. Husband-to-be attended MIT and commuted in cute green MGB. Married after one year of grad school.

Sailed to Italy a semester short at Yale and finished thesis in Rome. Husband's PhD research on Italian Communist Party gave us 18 months in Rome and Milan. Missed major American political events in spring of 1970, but joined anti-American/anti-war marches in Italy.

Back in US, lived in Cambridge, MA; became book designer for Houghton Mifflin textbook division in Boston. Part-time designer after two children born in mid-70s; then free-lance designer. Came to Durham, NC in 1981 for two one-year teaching jobs (Duke/NCSU with promises) and it panned out; have taught graphic design at the College of Design, NC State University since. Divorced early 90s.

Teaching design, rather than the “job from hell” that I thought it would be, turned out to be the only place to talk about design, and fun (most of the time); five years in administration too. Study Abroad involvement has taken me to England, India, Prague CZ and Ghana. Five months in India in 2001 as a Fulbright lecturer at four institutions; plus experience of Gujarat earthquake.

Became a graphic design historian as the field invented itself in the 80s. Combining feminist studies with design history led me into main research area: women in design. Supported by two NEA grants before Jesse Helms paid attention. Discovered I love poking around archives; spent five years researching, writing and designing a monograph on the first independent female art director in America; published Cipe Pineles: a life of design (WW Norton, 1999). Also involved in avant garde Russian poetry and design: Verbal and Visual Translation of Mayakovsky's and Lissitzky's ‘For Reading Out Loud' (British Library, 2000). Other writings about Italian design, avant garde typography, and teaching design.

Daughter Alexandra Lange, architectural historian and critic, lives in Brooklyn with Mark Dixon, an architect, and two children. Son Jeremy Lange, photographer (currently for Indy Weekly, stringer for NY Times), lives in Durham with Alicia, photographer and design teacher, and two children.

Beginning three years of half-time teaching in fall 2010 (phased retirement in the UNC system) I intend to spend more time with grandchildren; to take on design and sewing projects (I have missed using my hands); to increase volunteer work (currently on Friends of Durham Library board, and do art projects with children at Duke Eye Clinic). Also on my long list: travel, more time in Vermont, writing, raising goats.