My agency, the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO), usually is more concerned with getting information from other Federal agencies digitized, printed, posted, and disseminated than in publishing our own books – that’s been our job in the Federal Government for almost 150 years. When we do publish something of our own, such as our Style Manual, about which I blogged awhile back, it’s worthy of note.
That’s my lead-in to 100 GPO Years, 1861-1961, published to mark GPO’s centennial. I’m sure it didn’t make a particular splash in the world of books back then, but it’s a rare and beloved commodity for those of us who work here, or used to. After a brief history of pre-GPO public printing, replete with scandals and corruption (and that’s why Congress decided to establish GPO), the book chronicles GPO’s activities year by year. The growth of GPO paralleled that of the Federal Government, spurred on by the Civil War, two world wars, the Cold War, the New Deal, the Great Society, and all of the other historical developments that gave rise to America’s present status as a superpower. For all of these momentous chapters in our history, GPO was there, printing the Emancipation proclamation, the declarations of war for both world wars, the UN Charter, and innumerable other documents of our democracy. Remarkably, though, we’re still at the same location as we were in 1861, at the corner of North Capitol and H Streets NW in Washington, DC. Instead of one small building, there are four large ones, as well as facilities nationwide.
On June 23, 2010 – the 150th anniversary of the congressional resolution that established GPO – a reprint of 100 GPO Years was a centerpiece of the kickoff of GPO’s sesquicentennial celebration. It’s a facsimile reprint, but with a new Foreword, an excellent index, and a colophon that describes the typefaces of both printings. On March 4, 2011, 150 years to the day after the inauguration of both GPO and Abraham Lincoln (it was the first day GPO was open for business), GPO will publish a new history. Until then, you can learn a lot about us by reading the straightforward narrative and sampling our unique historic photograph collection in 100 GPO Years. You can read the reprint on our anniversary Web site or purchase a copy here. Soon it will be available in Federal depository libraries nationwide. If you can’t wait, you can find the original printing in some libraries.
Happy birthday to us!