History of the U.S. Government Printing Office

History of the U.S. Government Printing Office

on March 4th 1861 there were two inaugurations in Washington DC Abraham Lincoln was sworn in as the 16th President of the United States and the US Government Printing Office opened for business GPO set up shop in a printing plant originally built by Cornelius Wendell a longtime contract printer for Congress Congress purchased the building at the corner of North Capitol and H streets for 135 thousand dollars it was the largest printing plant in Washington and one of the largest in the United States the first head of GPO was John deed to freeze an Illinois newspaper publisher politician and friend President Lincoln as the nation plunged into civil war GPO grew rapidly to keep pace with printing needs military and civilian alight in 1864 GPO employees participated more directly in the war when Company F of the Interior Department regiment composed of GPO printers and press men marched into Northwest Washington to help repel Confederate forces under General Jubal Early at the climax of his raid on the capital after the war GPO continued to expand along with the nation in 1866 GPO purchased a bullock press an example of the cutting-edge printing technology of its day installation of the Bullock was GPIOs first step in a series of technological changes that vastly expanded the volume and quality of its printing work in 1876 the head of GPO became by law the public printer the law also specified that the public printer be a practical printer and versed in the art of book binding another major milestone in GPO history was the printing Act of 1895 which made GPO responsible for the printing of all three branches of the federal government and for the dissemination of government publications for sale and for deposit in congressionally designated libraries nationwide as the 20th century dawned GPO began to take on its present-day appearance with the construction of building one which opened for business in 1903 in 1904 machine typesetting revolutionized government printing with the arrival of Linotype and monotype at GPO these two amazing machines shifted the formula for typesetting from minutes per line to lines per minute GPO typesetters became among the most skillful in the world a spelling revolution hit GPO in 1906 when President Theodore Roosevelt instructed public printer Charles Stillings to adopt simplified spelling for 300 common English words as recommended by a distinguished panel of language experts commissioned by Andrew Carnegie the spelling of th ru for through and s ixt for fixed immediately drew the wrath and ridicule of citizens and newspapers across the country and Congress terminated the experiment by the end of the year a more widely accepted change occurred in 1910 when horse-drawn wagons were replaced by horseless carriages for deliveries to Capitol Hill in 1917 America entered the first world war with imported printing supplies falling victim to German u-boats and British blockades GPO began making its own pink and marbled paper and expanded its recycling of type metal the first years of the 20th century were all about expansion the GPO as the government's demand for printing grew so did production and the number of GPO employees this large dedicated workforce gained the ability to bargain as a result of the keys' Act of 1924 the beginning of a unique and ongoing partnership with GPO management under public printer George Carter and increased focus on employees and their need for additional space brought about a new employee managed cafeteria recreational activities including a duckpin bowling alley a shuffleboard court and a modern auditorium named for President Warren G Hardin known as the printer president because of his background in newspaper work an employee orchestra serenaded during lunch hours with popular hits of the day and many sports teams and clubs flourished providing a break from the often arduous schedule of the big shop the Great Depression hit America and GPO hard but an enormous volume of printing for FDR's new deal soon had the presses honey GPIOs apprentice training program really came into its own providing employment for printing apprentices men and women alike in 1935 Congress authorized two new buildings building three replacing the original GPO building at North Capitol and eight streets and building for a paper warehouse adjacent to Union Station for deliveries of paper and other supplies by rail when building three opened in 1940 GPO assumed the physical appearance it retains today from 1941 to 1945 GPO joined the worldwide crusade against the axis driving its production of printing to new heights and keeping employee morale high with Saturday dances in Hardin Hall and other recreational activities in post-war America GPO accelerated its use of commercial contracting no single plant even one as huge as GPO to keep pace with the tremendous growth of government programs at the onset of the Cold War in 1967 GPO began the transition from Linotype to lie no Tron it was gpo's first venture into computer typesetting although the change to photo composition caused labor strife in other printing enterprises GPO management and employees work together to ensure a smooth transition by 1983 the era of machine typesetting a GPO was at an end the stage was set for a new era resulting in tremendous savings – GPO customers and dramatically cutting the cost of congressional printing since the early 1990s GPOs award-winning website one of the few government sites authorized by law has been one of the government's largest and most heavily used serving all three branches of government and the public it has also expanded free public access through GPIOs federal depository library program GPIOs printing procurement program continues to be one of the government's longest-running partnerships with the private sector saving millions of taxpayer dollars per year and creating jobs and tax revenues in states and localities nationwide today the presses continue to run even as the US Government Printing Office continues to transform itself with the latest developments in information technology as we move beyond ink and paper

One thought on “History of the U.S. Government Printing Office

  1. Yankees are a wonderfully blessed people. Americans have done somethings right and have done them very well. The government printing office is great resource from which to obtain knowledge which empowers. It pays to know. If you are an American you have to love this country. It's all free of cost to you as a citizen. What a country!

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