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Re: Need historical information

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  • checkscher
    A few years ago I printed a little vignette about type rubbers -- a term applied to a small, but important class of female operatives . It s from New York in
    Message 1 of 17 , Jan 31, 2010
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      A few years ago I printed a little vignette about type rubbers -- a term "applied to a small, but important class of female operatives". It's from New York in the 1850s, but I suppose conditions would have been similar in the situation you write about. You can access a scan at www.heckscher.us/Transfer/The Type Rubber.pdf (capitalization important)

      Charles Heckscher


      --- In PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com, "Anita" <anitamaedraper@...> wrote:
      >
      > I'm a historical romance writer and I'm hoping someone here can help me...
      > My novel is set in 1879 St. Louis, MO. My heroine gets a job working at the city's newspaper.
      > I can't seem to find any info on the type of printing equipment a large newspaper like that would have used at that time.
      > Specifically, I need to find my heroine a menial job where she'll get very inky through the course of her daily job.
      > Can someone please point me in the right direction?
      > Thank you.
      >
      > Anita Mae Draper.
      >
      > www.anitamaedraper.blogspot.com
      >
    • author50401
      One job which has not been discussed in any detail here, is that of the proofreader. I imagine that the proofreader (alas, no longer a part of the newspaper
      Message 2 of 17 , Feb 1, 2010
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        One job which has not been discussed in any detail here, is that of the proofreader. I imagine that the proofreader (alas, no longer a part of the newspaper industry) would get the printed galleys striaght from the press, and the proofing presses were inked with very oilyt, non-drying ink so that they did not need frequent cleaning and could be left inked for day on end. Those printed galleys just had to get ink on the fingers which could transfer tot he face, hair, etc. as previously mentioned.

        Proofreading was one area of the shop which would often find a woman in place.



        --- In PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com, Anita Draper <anitamaedraper@...> wrote:
        >
        > Wow! You certainly are a great bunch of people to get to know. Thank you to everyone who offered suggestions and gave me info. I now have a lot of places to check out and websites to research.
        >  
        > To answer Graham's question - the reason I wanted my heroine 'inky' is because:
        >  
        > The last time she saw the Hero, an Outlaw, he was running from the law with a bullet in his shoulder. She doesn't know if he's dead or alive. He's not on good terms with his father who owns the newspaper, The St Louis Clarion (yes, I made it up). The heroine waits months at home but can't stand not knowing. So she goes to St Louis and takes the first job available at the Clarion. She's a cook with no newspaper experience. I could have her apply for a job in the food section of the paper, but that's so ... boring. I need to put her in a position where she'll do anything just to be near the Hero's family in case they hear word about the Hero. I want to show my heroine working long, messy hours just for a scrap of information on the man she loves.  
        > Because the hero is heir to a publishing empire, the Hero's father has to find the heroine in this grimy, menial position. Because then he knows she's not just a gold digger but truly loves his only son.
        >  
        > And Graham - the readers would have laughed at me if I'd finished my ms without this research because what I have now is just my imagination:
        >  
        > - she's working in the basement/pressroom and her job is cleaning the ink off pieces of equipment that's held the letters - I can't remember what they're called - so they can be re-used.
        >  
        > Now that's funny, right? I have no basis for that - just an image in my mind.
        >  
        > So I need to turn that image into fact.
        >  
        > I suppose you're all nodding off now, eh?  If you're still reading, let me add this...
        >  
        > I'm not telling you how this story ends but.... I also need info on the type of press needed by a one-man weekly newspaper operation in a small western town in Wyoming a few months later.
        >  
        > Thanks again.
        >  
        > Anita Mae.
        >
        > www.anitamaedraper.blogspot.com
        > www.prairiechickswriteromance.blogspot.com
        > www.twitter.com/anitamaedraper
        > www.inkwellinspirations.blogspot.com
        >
        > --- On Sun, 1/31/10, Graham Moss <books.inclinepress@...> wrote:
        >
        >
        > From: Graham Moss <books.inclinepress@...>
        > Subject: Re: [PPLetterpress] Need historical information
        > To: PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com
        > Received: Sunday, January 31, 2010, 4:04 PM
        >
        >
        >  
        >
        >
        >
        > Thanks for that Rich. I taught the history of industrialization for quite a
        > few years, and was pleased to be able to directly address the enquiry in
        > the terms that the enquirer set. Pre-civil war illustrations don¹t really
        > cut it when it come to St Louis in the 1870s, by which time sensibilities
        > had changed quite a lot, to be changed drastically again around the First
        > World War of course. The problem with the current enquiry is how the woman
        > might have got inky on the job. The life of a romantic novelist must be
        > quite difficult, unless they don¹t mind being laughed at of course. At
        > present I¹m working on doing the fact correcting for a short story for
        > another writer, set in the 1950s and 60s. Fortunately trade magazines help a
        > lot.
        >
        > Graham Moss
        > Incline Press
        > 36 Bow Street
        > Oldham OL1 1SJ England
        >
        > http://www.inclinep ress.com
        >
        > I can't speak for the UK, but in the US many lower and some middle class
        > women had to work, especially before they were married, during the 19th
        > century as well as before and after that time. Clothing factories, textile
        > mills, and printing houses are but three examples. The post on my blog to
        > which I referred in my previous email shows a pre-Civil War illustration
        > of women working in a large printing house feeding cylinder presses, among
        > other things. Even when a woman was married and had to stay home with the
        > children she often did piece work with the children helping. Then as now
        > people did what was necessary to support themselves and their families and
        > then as now there were jobs available.
        >
        > There is a long history of women in all types of craft and industry,
        > including printing, from this country's first settlements to the present
        > day. The vast majority of these women did not live in Park Ave.-type homes
        > and have afternoon tea before shopping at Macy's, as is so often portrayed
        > in books, on television and in the movies. Life for them and their male
        > partners often consisted of long hours of mere drudgery whether in a
        > factory, home workshop, or on a farm. Getting dirty and working hard were
        > the common denominators.
        >
        > Rich
        >
        > --
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
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      • Eric
        ... Actually, news ink was also non-drying by today s expectations, just as much as proofing ink. It was in a mineral oil vehicle, rather than linseed oil
        Message 3 of 17 , Feb 1, 2010
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          --- In PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com, "author50401" <JohnH@...> wrote:
          >
          > One job which has not been discussed in any detail here, is that of the proofreader. I imagine that the proofreader (alas, no longer a part of the newspaper industry) would get the printed galleys striaght from the press, and the proofing presses were inked with very oilyt, non-drying ink so that they did not need frequent cleaning and could be left inked for day on end.

          Actually, news ink was also non-drying by today's expectations, just as much as proofing ink. It was in a mineral oil vehicle, rather than linseed oil varnish, and dried entirely by absorption into the stock (or the fingers or the clothes). When I was working with the stuff on a handfed cylinder, we only cleaned the press once year, before vacation.
          Women certainly had other positions than proofreader, but this is something that could have varied from region to region and would have been affected by unionization. Women were accepted into the Typographical Union well before other trade unions, but women were also used as low-wage workers (and occasionally strikebreakers) where unions were being resisted, and press feeder was just such a low-wage position. This was a divisive issue, especially in the 1870s when there was disagreement in the union over the existance of the Women's Typographical Union No. 1, a local union chartered from 1869 to 1878, alongside the existing local 6 in New York. (See "History of Typographical Union No. 6," 1912.)
          --Eric Holub, SF
        • David Goodrich
          Intrigued by the discussion, I looked over old issues of Printing History and found in Volume 1 Number 1 a review of a book titled Notes on Woman Printers in
          Message 4 of 17 , Feb 1, 2010
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            Intrigued by the discussion, I looked over old issues of Printing History
            and found in Volume 1 Number 1 a review of a book titled "Notes on Woman
            Printers in colonial America and the United States 1639-1975" by Marjorie
            Dana Barlow (Charlottesville (Virginia), 1976). According to the review,
            the book is organized by state and identifies 228 woman printers of whom 150
            were in the 20th century. The review also refers to an earlier book, "Women
            as Printers" by Lois Rather (1970). You could check these books for more
            information.

            Perhaps more to the point would be an article in Printing History 35 (Volume
            XVIII, Number 1) titled "Strategies of Shopfloor Inclusion: The Gender
            Politics of Augusta Lewis and Women's Typographical Union No. 1, 1868-1872."
            Lewis was working as a typesetter at the New York World in 1868. Apparently
            women working in newspaper printing was common enough for them to form a
            union. The World began hiring women typesetters in 1865 and by 1868 had
            hired 100.

            There doesn't seem to be any reason your heroine could not have found
            employment in a newspaper print shop in 1879.

            You should also know that cleaning type was performed in a large tray where
            the type was washed down with a solution called "ley" which is actually
            mainly lie.

            David Goodrich


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          • bielerpr
            Hi David I think the recent spelling is lye. And still the best solution for making that metal type shine like new. A bit nasty though, eats flesh, and not
            Message 5 of 17 , Feb 1, 2010
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              Hi David

              I think the recent spelling is lye. And still the best solution for making that metal type shine like new. A bit nasty though, eats flesh, and not aluminum friendly either (literally explosive in an aluminum pan). Those color crystals in Drano are aluminum (mixed with lye); the bubbling reaction is to make the consumer think the stuff is actually working. Household Lye (without the aluminum mini-bombs) is available in many grocery stores. It is also useful for ridding type of oxidation (but, unfortunately, not the corrosive effects of).

              Gerald


              >
              > You should also know that cleaning type was performed in a large tray where
              > the type was washed down with a solution called "ley" which is actually
              > mainly lie.
              >
              > David Goodrich
              >
            • David Goodrich
              Gerald, I agree that lye is the modern name but ley is the historic term that would have been used in 1879. See MacKellar s The American Printer , pgs
              Message 6 of 17 , Feb 2, 2010
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                Gerald,
                I agree that lye is the modern name but "ley" is the historic term that
                would have been used in 1879. See MacKellar's "The American Printer", pgs
                264-5. According to this, the pressman was responsible for washing the form
                after printing so our heroine would not have had a special position for this
                duty. But distributing the type afterwards sounds like a perfect job for a
                novice.
                David


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