September 16, 2002 New Text on American Book History to be Featured at Symposium at the Library of Congress on Monday, October 21

Press Contact: Craig D’Ooge (202) 707-9189
Public Contact: (202) 707-5221

Editors and contributors to a major new text for courses in American book history and print culture will discuss their book, as well as American book history as a field of study, at a symposium at the Library of Congress from 9 a.m. to 12 noon on Monday, Oct. 21, in the Mumford Room, sixth floor, James Madison Memorial Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., in Washington, D.C. Sponsored by the Center for the Book in cooperation with the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Mass., the symposium is free and open to the public. No tickets or reservations are required.

The new book, “Perspectives on American Book History: Artifacts and Commentary,” a 461-page collection of primary source materials and original essays accompanied by image archives on CD-ROM, was published by the University of Massachusetts Press in association with the Center for the Book and the American Antiquarian Society. The editors are Scott E. Casper, University of Nevada, Reno; Joanne D. Chaison, American Antiquarian Society; and Jeffrey D. Groves, Harvey Mudd College. Each will participate in the symposium, along with Robert A. Gross, professor of history and American studies at the College of William and Mary and former chair of the program in the history of the book at the American Antiquarian Society. Gross also wrote the book’s introductory essay. Other contributors to the volume taking part in the meeting include: Nancy Cook, University of Rhode Island; Patricia Crain, University of Minnesota; Ann Fabian, Rutgers University; and Glenn Wallach, Horace Mann School, New York City.

The program also is being presented in cooperation with the Washington Area Group for Print Culture Studies, which meets monthly at the Library of Congress in cooperation with the Library’s Office of Scholarly Programs and the Center for the Book.

“Encouraging the study of the history of books and print culture is a principal aim of the Center for the Book,” said John Y. Cole, the center’s director. “It’s gratifying to support the publication of the first text designed for the growing number of courses in American print culture that are being taught in colleges and universities across our country.”

The volume is part of the University of Massachusetts Press series, “Studies in Print Culture and the History of the Book.” Paul M. Wright, editor, University of Massachusetts Press, and John B. Hench of the American Antiquarian Society will also participate in the symposium.

The fourteen principal chapters in “Perspectives on American Book History” trace topics in American print culture from Puritan New England to the future of newspapers in a digital age. The artifacts and documents, most of which have never before appeared in an anthology, include excerpts from readers’ diaries, accounts of the printing and publishing trades, materials from the alternative press, commentaries on authorship and reading, and visual images. The essays place these primary source materials in their historical, literary, and political contexts and model the ways that students might approach them. The volume concludes with “Resources for Studying American Book History: A Selective, Annotated Bibliography,” by Joanne D. Chaison. The CD- ROM image archive includes nearly 200 digital images, captioned and keyed to different chapters.

The essays and their authors are: “Texts for the Times: An Introduction to Book History,” by Robert A. Gross; “Literacy and Reading in Puritan New England,” by Jill Lepore; “Print and Everyday Life in the Eighteenth Century,” by Patricia Crain; “Publishing the American Revolution,” by Russell L. Martin; “The Book Trade Transformed,” by Jeffrey D. Groves; “Antebellum Reading Prescribed and Described,” by Scott E. Casper; “Publishing an Emergent ‘American’ Literature,” by Susan S. Williams; “Northern and Southern Worlds of Print,” by Alice Fahs; “Reshaping Publishing and Authorship in the Gilded Age,” by Nancy Cook; “Print Cultures in the American West,” by Jen A. Huntley-Smith; “Laboring Classes, New Readers, and Print Cultures,” by Ann Fabian; “The Industrialization and Nationalization of American Periodical Publishing,” by Charles Johanningsmeier; “Print and the Creation of Middlebrow Culture,” by Trysh Travis; “Out of the Mainstream and into the Streets: Small Press Magazines, the Underground Press, Zines, and Artists’ Books,” by Ellen Gruber Garvey; “Newspapers Since 1945” by Glenn Wallach; and “The Once and Future Book,” by the three editors.

The paperbound edition of “Perspectives on American Book History: Artifacts and Commentary” (ISBN 1-55849-317-4) is available for $24.95 from the University of Massachusetts Press (; the library cloth edition (ISBN 1-55849-316-6) is available for $70.00. Both editions also are available from the Library of Congress Sales Shop (888) 682-3557.

The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress was established by Congress in 1977 to use the resources and prestige of the Library of Congress to stimulate public interest in books, reading, literacy, and libraries. For information about the center’s program and publications and the activities of its affiliates across the nation, see its Web site:


PR 02-129
ISSN 0731-3527