Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Media, Art, and Text

First Advisor

Eric Garberson


The significant role of the female printer in the American home-based print shops during the colonial and early republic periods has been documented in print history, socioeconomic, labor, and women studies, yet with the industrialization of the printing trade, women’s presence is thought to have disappeared. Contrary to the belief that industrialization of the print shop eradicated women’s involvement in skilled employments such as typesetting, the creation of the Women’s Cooperative Printing Union in California and the creation and chartering of the Women’s Typographical Union in New York, both in the late 1860s, clearly indicate that women continued to work in printing. The assumption that industrialization brought with it the unionization of the trade denies the possibility of non-union shops, as well as the continuation of home-based businesses across the ever-expanding nation as it moved westward.

This research has sought to uncover and restore to history women who have been involved in the trade from the early transition of the home shop at the beginning of the 1800s to the signing of the WTU charter in 1869 by union employed compositors, as well as to identify establishments that hired female compositors. Digital newspaper databases have been used as a means of locating both women and opportunities available to them in the American printing trade between 1800 to 1869. Several women significant to this history, both those who have been found to be employed as compositors/typesetters and those who created opportunities for the employment of trained women compositors/typesetters, are discussed.


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