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The Printed Page

J.M. Syken

Course Outline

Through the viewing of several archival/documentary films produced in the 1930s/40s/50s/60s/70s, we will examine the history and development of the printing industry in the United States.

We will examine the materials, methods and systems used to publish books and newspapers. This includes the harvesting and processing of trees to produce wood pulp to make paper, manual and automated typesetting techniques, photo-engraving, printing processes etc.

This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.

Learning Objective

At the conclusion of this course, the student will:

Intended Audience

This course is intended for architects, engineers and other design professionals.

Benefit to Attendees

The attendee/s will gain an intimate knowledge and insight into the background, history, development, innovations, technologies etc. of the printing industry.

Course Introduction

The course incorporates the viewing of several archival/documentary films broken down as follows;

Part 1 examines the printing industry from the perspective of publishing books and from an overview of the industry. Part 2 examines the infrastructure needed to produce paper (newsprint) for a large daily newspaper. Part 3 examines both hand typesetting and mechanical typesetting via the Linotype typesetter with a detailed explanation of how the latter operates. Part 4 examines the photo-engraving process. Part 5 examines the production processes of a daily newspaper from the early to later part of the 20th Century.

Course Content

Part 1 – Industry Overview;
TITLE: Making Books (1947)
TITLE: Printing (1947)
Part 2 – Paper for the Presses;
TITLE: Trees to Tribune (1937)
Part 3 – Typesetting;
TITLE: Learning to Set Type (1959)
TITLE: Typesetting: Linotype – Part 1(ca.1960)
TITLE: Typesetting: Linotype – Part 2(ca.1960)
Part 4 - Engraving
TITLE: Heights and Depths (1938)
Part 5 – The Fourth Estate;
TITLE: Making a Newspaper (ca.1930)
TITLE: Newspaper: Behind the Scenes (1970)

Course Summary

Like so many things in our modern world, we take for granted the ease at which words and thoughts are translated into newspapers, books, journals, magazines etc. The printed page has always been; since ancient times, a repository for the history, philosophy, art, science etc. of mankind. One of the greatest calamities of the ancient world was the destruction by fire of the great library in Alexandria, Egypt. That event is remembered with regret even today because humanity lost all those things the printed page allows human beings to express, recall, record etc. for generations not yet born. On the surface, printing is a simple act, but in that simple act is enshrined for posterity our existence – for better or worse, on planet earth.

Related Links

For additional technical information related to this subject, please visit the following websites:
(Film: The Machine That Made Us - 58:56)


Once you finish studying the above course content, you need to take a quiz to obtain the PDH credits.

DISCLAIMER: The materials contained in the online course are not intended as a representation or warranty on the part of PDH Center or any other person/organization named herein. The materials are for general information only. They are not a substitute for competent professional advice. Application of this information to a specific project should be reviewed by a registered architect and/or professional engineer/surveyor. Anyone making use of the information set forth herein does so at their own risk and assumes any and all resulting liability arising therefrom.