Katz had obtained the funds to establish the company by selling a series of paintings by Eakins that his father had purchased secretly and placed in locations scattered around Baltimore. Katz discovered his father's secret in the 1950s, and sold the paintings to art collector Joseph Hirshhorn.
The publishing firm debuted in September 1966 with the release of four books, part of what Katz described would be seven to 10 books issued annually. The initial releases were The Animal Hotel, a novella by poet Jean Garrigue; A replica of the original 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass, the collection of twelve poems written by Walt Whitman that he had published himself; Message From the Interior a collection of photographs by Walker Evans, who was best known for his work for the Farm Security Administration that captured the effects of the Great Depression; and Ready for the Ha Ha & Other Satires a volume of poems and plays written by his wife, Jane Mayhall.
In the three decades before his death, Eakins Press published 56 books that were described by The New York Times as being "notable for their meticulous, elegant design", including works of photography, poetry, sculpture and the New York City Ballet.
In addition to Ready for the Ha Ha & Other Satires, Eakins Press also published other works by his wife, including the two-volume collection of poetry Givers and Takers printed in 1968 and 1973.
A January 1993 show at the Zabriskie Gallery in New York City featured selections of 14 works published by the Eakins Press, along with samples of the art produced by the artists highlighted in the books.
- Dunning, Jennifer. "Leslie George Katz, 78, Founder of Eakins Press", The New York Times, May 4, 1997. Accessed March 22, 2009.
- Staff. Books-Authors: New Publisher to Bow", The New York Times, September 8, 1966. Accessed March 25, 2009.
- About the Press, Eakins Press Foundation. Accessed March 22, 2009.
- Fox, Margalit. "Jane Mayhall, Poet Who Gained Prominence Late in Life, Is Dead at 90", The New York Times, March 19, 2009. Accessed March 19, 2009.
- Hagen, Charles. "Art in Review", The New York Times, January 8, 1993. Accessed March 22, 2009.