Eugene B. Power (1905-1993) was a pioneering entrepreneur in the use of microfilm for the reproduction of scholarly publications.
During World War II, Power directed the microfilming of thousands of rare books and other printed materials in British libraries. Power paid the library a minimal fee per exposure and then took the film to the United States where he sold copies to American libraries. The idea was both a clever business arrangement and a benefit to American scholars, who lacked access to European library collections. It was also an inventive form of preservation in light of wartime threats to libraries. Queen Elizabeth knighted Power in the 1970s for this preservation work.
In 1938, Power founded University Microfilms International, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, which is widely credited with having invented "micropublishing." Later, the company would merge microfilm with xerography, helping to make out-of-print books available for circulation again. The company also pioneered a business model for publishing limited-interest doctoral dissertations, becoming the publisher of record for all U.S. dissertations in 1951.
In 1967 Mr. Power created the Power Foundation for philanthropy. He gave the Power Center for the Performing Arts to his alma mater, the University of Michigan, endowed a scholarship program at the university (affiliated for many years with Magdalene College at Cambridge University) and helped to buy the site of the Battle of Hastings in England to preserve it from real estate speculation. In 2018, his son and daughter-in-law, Philip and Kathy Power, donated their family's significant collection of Inuit art to the University of Michigan Museum of Art. It numbered more than 200 stone sculptures and prints and valued at more than $2.5 million, as well as a $2 million gift to initiate and endow the Power Family Program in perpetuity.
He died of Parkinson's disease in 1993.