When Did the US Get Its First Printing Press?

The first printing press in what is now the United States was established well before the nation was founded. The Rev. Joseph Glover arranged to ship a printing press to Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1638. Glover died during the passage to North America, but his widow and Stephen Daye, one of the reverend’s assistants, continued the project. The press went into operation in 1639, with the first completed print job being a copy of the Freeman’s Oath. In later years, the widow Glover married Henry Dunster, then president of Harvard College. The press continued operations as part of the college, which in turn helped to legitimize the printed matter in the minds of the general public.

More facts about printing in the US:

  • Many nations established printing presses well before there was one in the American colonies. Mexico had established a printing press as early as 1534, more than a hundred years before the Cambridge operation. In Germany, the Gutenberg Bible was printed using a press during the 1452-1454 period. Major European population centers, such as Rome, Paris and London, all had printing presses during the 15th century.

  • The first American newspaper was printed in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1690. Entitled Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick, the publication was soon suspended because it was issued without the benefit of a royal license.

  • Paperback books first appeared in the mid-1840s as supplements to newspapers but were soon sold separately. By 1980, almost 70 percent of all books sold in the US each year were paperbacks.

More Info: Smithsonian Magazine

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