Know Your History and Represent!

Last weekend while visiting a friend who lives in Naperville, IL, I, along with my whole family, made a visit to the Historic Naper Settlement. This place is a huge outdoor museum and features preserved and historic Civil War era buildings, among them, a print shop. I have to admit I was pretty surprised at how puffed up with pride I felt when I walked in that building, and immediately felt a sense of kinship with those folks who put ink on paper hundreds of years ago.

I also learned a few things about our fantastic industry that I never knew. For one, did you know that the phrase “upper case” and “lower case” is a reference to the individual letters being stored in tall cases, and the ones in the upper case were, you guessed it, the capital letters and the ones in the lower case were the small guys. Huh. Twenty years in the industry and I never knew that. But now that I do, this is just one little anecdotal nugget that I will store away for just the occasion that might call for such a tidbit. And it got me thinking…

If this print shop exists here in Illinois, where else can people go to get a little dose of history?

And the answer?


So here you go, folks, my early Independence Day gift to you—A whole SLEW of places in this country and around the world that you can visit to get your print history on.

Please enjoy my suggestions below, and let me know if you’ve been to any of them, what you thought, and if there are any missing.

Now working as a consultant, Kelly sold digital printing for 15 years so she understands the challenges, frustrations and pitfalls of building a successful sales practice. Her mission is to help printers of all sizes sell more stuff. Kelly's areas of focus include client recovery, retention and acquisition, and marketing communications projects.
Kelly graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Political Science and, among other notable accomplishments, co-founded the Windy City Rollers, a professional women's roller derby league.

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  • zookeeper

    Try this one, Located in Rockville, Indiana.

  • Allan Swanson

    Colonial Williamsburg, in VA has a great printing building and another one for finishing. I was totally blown away.

  • Old Typesetter

    Amana Colonies in Iowa has a working offset press and Linotype in their blacksmith museum. They let me run the Linotype and set a slug when I told them I was in the industry.

  • Jim Russell

    Another interesting fact is that the expression “watch your p’s and q’s came from letterset typography and referred to carefully selecting the correct letter, p or q which look similar but appear backwards on the type block. The p looks like a q and the q looks like a p. :)

  • Melissa Sienicki

    As someone who firmly believes that what we learn from our history directly impacts our present and out future, I really appreciate you sharing this information. Thank you, Kelly!