A reference book for your shelves…

March 30, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

There are very few reference books which are exclusive to newspapers, so some of the better ones are about printing in general, peppered with historical accounts of newspaper publishing as well.

One of my favorites is such a book, titled “Printing In The Americas” by John Clyde Oswald. Done by the Gregg Publishing Company in 1937 it unfortunately is out of print, however copies can be found on book dealer shelves across the country. With the broad scope of internet sites abebooks.com and alibris.com I suspect it would not be difficult to find a copy.

There are 91 chapters totaling over 560 pages but it can essentially be considered to have three parts. first: a general history of printing in colonial America which includes much on early newspapers; second: a state by state review of the their first printing efforts, most of which were newspapers rather than books or pamphlets; and third: printing history in other countries of the Western hemisphere including Canada, Central America, South America and the West Indies, typically not dealt with in most printing history efforts.

I find the Midwest and Western states to have the most intriguing histories, filled with stories of tragedy & hardship in trying to operate a printing establishment in the wilds of America. There were far more failures than successes. Early printers must certainly have come from hearty and optimistic stock.

This is a title I would suggest you pursue. Given its format it doesn’t have to be read cover to cover, but rather chapters of interest stand alone as little histories in just a few pages.