Coming up for Air

Tempus Fugit. Here we are at the end of 2022. Seems like yesterday that we were learning about the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the beginnings of another nasty, hate-filled, toxic election year was in its infancy. As I sit here now, attempting to maintain continuity with regards to the last post I made (many months ago), I realize how time we invest in the many projects that stack up in our lives and, inevitably, force up to come up for air and face the morbid reality that, time, does in fact, fly by quickly. 

Coming Up For AirBecause I am enamored with everything “early modern England” (I have been engaged in researching sources for two writing projects that have taken me into many rabbit holes…hence the whole “come for air” metaphor I used in the paragraph above), I am taken back to that time when the Holiday season meant a more culturally in terms of religious significance (as opposed or materialistic obsessions of current times). In England, during the 16th and 17th centuries (as well as centuries past), the preparation of season required much reading (individually and communally) along with constant prayer. Such a cultural manifestation required, of course, printed matter in the form of books (prayer books, psalms, and leaflets) for the literate commoner to read and for the head of household to recite. 

Imagine the women of the household—with all their prescribed duties—busily prepping for the season, maintaining their families, employed within their chores, and, not having the time to “come up for air.” Especially, however, are the women who also worked as the wives of printers and publishers. As we discussed in the last entry, the life of Jaqueline du Thuit Vautrollier Field, she was responsible for the printing of Greek verse and some of Martin Luther’s works. 

Coming up for air

As I mentioned before, in the early modern England patriarchal culture, women were oppressed and secondary. However, as historians have uncovered (and the modern reader certainly could infer), women were vital to the family and to their husband’s work. As with the printers and publishers of this time, It is behind the scenes that these women guided, advised, counseled, and—in many cases—assisted in the production and manufacturing processes of printed matter. They composed and set type, proofed printed sheets, assisted in collation, and most assuredly aided in the decision-making process of what titles to print and publish. 

One such London women printer and publisher to prominently emerge in the late 16th century was Alice Bailey Charlewood Roberts. Ms. Bailey married the printer and bookseller Mr. John Charlewood in 1589. Unfortunately, upon his death in 1593, she was left in charge of his/their business. As a widow during this time, it was imperative to have a strong financial purse in which to invest in future and prospective publishing opportunities (as well as in new type matrices and fonts), she soon, thereafter, remarried to James Roberts, a bookseller from London. It is interesting to note that upon the death of the owner of a printing business, the widow inherits the exclusive rights to reprint any previously publication from their “house” with their name imprinted as the official printer. Thus, many widows at the time ultimately remarried other printers or bookseller in which to maintain these rights and continue operations. It is suggested, through historical research, that she was a very gifted printer in that she was able to produce output much more efficiently than her previous husband or her competitors due to her ability reconfigure composition arrangements and maximize the image area of the sheet thus minimizing waste and reducing size. Because of this, she was commissioned by other prominent publisher of the time to print larger, more significant works pertaining to religious content. 

One notable book she printed was Thomas Nashe’s Christ’s Tears over Jerusalem (1592), a book previously printed by her deceased husband, but a title that remained legally in her repository. A third edition, it was a popular and successful publication for her and received great accolades within the community and her peers. Alice was distinguished as a master printer and clever publisher. Along with her new husband, James Roberts, also a successful publisher, the two contributed to the publication and printing of several important theological and popular works which proved to be quite successful. 

Which brings me to the first point I made regarding the preparations for the holiday season. Alice Bailey Charlewood Roberts had ten children with her first husband Mr. Charlewood. James Roberts, marrying Mrs. Charlewood, entered a relationship that was new, unique, and challenging. I would be remiss to not mention how strong and independent Alice most assuredly was. To maintain—and grow–her deceased husband’s business, bring in a new “partner,” and, raise ten children in such times is quite remarkable. I can envision her preparing breakfast on a cold wintery English morning, scuffling her children off to school with a copy of a freshly printed leaf that had come off the press that morning. Breaking to chop some wood for the fire and preparing to wash the laundry from the days before, she opens her psalms for that day’s prayer and marks the pages in her children’s books for evening vespers. And that is just the morning tasks in her long and industrious day. I wonder if Alice Bailey Charlewood Roberts ever “came up for air.” I am sure she did, and her coming up for air was through the printed page. There is where she found refuge and sanctity. To all of you women out there today, frantically prepping for the Holidays, I hope you find sanctity too through whatever means amenable. 

As the new year approaches, I raise a glass to the women printers and publishers of past who have brought refuge and sanctity to many through their unspoken, uncelebrated, and undocumented contributions to the human condition. 

It is time to come up for some air. 

Happy Holidays.

Cheers!

k

PGSF Announces Newly Endowed Scholarship for Bernie Eckert

November 18, 2022 (Pittsburgh, PA)  The Print and Graphics Scholarship Foundation (PGSF), is pleased to announce the establishment of the Bernie Eckert Endowed Scholarship. The scholarship has initial funding of over $28,000.  

Bernie EckertBernie has worked tirelessly for over 20 years managing the scholarship process for thousands of students who are working on furthering their education in the Graphic Arts. She will be greatly missed by her team at PGSF as well as by the students, faculty, and the PGSF board as she retires at the end of this year.   “Since the beginning of my involvement on the Board of Directors of PGSF, I have been very impressed with Bernie’s passion and energy for PGSF and the need to attract talent to the industry. Many careers have been kicked off as a result of Bernie’s untiring efforts to evaluate and recommend scholarships from thousands of applications in her PGSF career.  I wish Bernie a well-deserved retirement and all the best in this next phase in her life.”, said Dr. Niels Winther, Chairman and Owner of Think Patented of Ohio.

Over 70 educators, students, friends, and industry leaders contributed to this scholarship which will be awarded each year to a deserving student studying the Graphic Arts at an accredited two or four-year institution.  “Bernie has been the ‘Wonder Woman’ of PGSF. Her energy and dedication have shaped PGSF into what it is today. She was there every step of the way, and I am thankful for her continued support of my education and career. Congratulations on your retirement, Bernie!”, said Jessica Kastello, scholarship recipient and currently with Lakeside Book Company.

If you would like to contribute to Bernie’s endowment or make a general contribution to help fund students in the industry, please visit our website at www.pgsf.org.

About PGSF

The Print and Graphics Scholarship Foundation is a not-for-profit, private, industry-directed organization that dispenses assistance to talented youth interested in graphic communications careers and pursuing education at technical colleges and universities. The mission of PGSF is to promote the graphics industry as a career choice for young people and support them through their education process. Each year the foundation grants over $500,000 in scholarships.

 

Contact:
Jeffrey White, Director of Development
Jeff.white@pgsf.org

PGSF grant supports Women’s Press Collective to train activists in print and publishing

The Print and Graphics Scholarship Foundation recently awarded a $5,000 grant to Women’s Press Collective in Brooklyn, New York. WPC is an all-volunteer association whose members include press operators and other press professionals, as well as students, professors, business owners, and more. Members work together to help organize community-based press and train people in all aspects of creating and disseminating news at a grassroots level.

The organization dates back to 1982 and has always been a mission-oriented collection of volunteers focused on community organizing through print.

Womens Press CollectiveThe nonprofit aids community-based organizations to print and publish their own newsletters, leaflets, posters, and other printed materials that they need for organizing around issues affecting communities such as low wages, lack of affordable housing, and lack of access to health care. Projects span the New York City metropolis and beyond.


The Women’s Press Collective is using the PGSF grant in support of their press room and press training sessions. The free-of-charge, member-run training sessions teach press operation, binding, finishing, prepress, graphic design, writing, and journalism to organizations and individuals who want to leverage the power of independent press for activism.

“We want to share our respect and support for innovative programs that bring communities together—especially those with barriers to entry into the amazing world of print and graphic communications,” said PGSF Board Chair Jules Van Sant. “The Women’s Press Collective in Brooklyn, NY, serves the women in the local population by offering training, access to press and bindery equipment, and the ability to produce print materials for local organizations that are within the mission and values the WPC represents.”

A recent deep dive into the organization’s culture, history, and projects on What They Think noted that WPC also would like to augment its pressroom with a computer-to-plate unit and a small-format digital press. Those with expertise, equipment, or other resources to offer may contact the Women’s Press Collective at 718-543-5100 or by e-mail at womenspresscollective@yahoo.com

“Stand Up and Be Recognized”

Ken Macro Blog

In my last blog, I confessed about my sadness in failing to recognize my older sister throughout my life. Born four years before me, she lived on this earth for only one week. Unfortunately, I never knew her, and consequently, I think of how my life would have been enhanced were she have grown up as my older sister. All retrospect now. But it got me thinking about identifying “the forgotten” or “the unrecognized.” Given the significant movements over the past ten years to recognize people and members of marginalized groups—and to honor their histories and the sacrifice of those in past times which have become “forgotten”—it dawned on me that, as with my sister, and, through attrition, she—as with many—were not “forgotten” but rather, “unrecognized.”

I know there were a lot of commas in that last sentence, but it is a thought stream that I wish to continue. Especially concerning the printing and packaging industry, book trades, and literary circles. Because men, generally speaking, were the predominant “recognized” source for proprietors, purveyors, and provocateurs of the printed media movement that began so prevalently in early modern Europe. However, until most recently, new revelations have been made aware pertaining to the “unrecognized” women of print from the past. 

In my last post, I mentioned a book entitled Women’s Labour and The History of the Book in Early Modern England (edited by Valerie Wayne, The Arden Shakespeare, 2022). In it, Wayne (2022) writes of the many women employed within the printing and book trades in early modern Europe. She writes, “The women who engaged in that work [printing and making books] range from those who raked rags from rubbish piles and begged door-to-door to receive pittance for them to those who ran printing houses and financed the production of books, sold them, wrote them, edited, owned, read and shared them” (2). According to Wayne, at least fifty-one widow publishers in London between 1540-1640 worked their businesses in some form or fashion. As it was in those days, the publishing house’s name most assuredly was identified by the husband or man of the family, even though the women (wives, daughters, sisters) could have very well actually been running the business, conducting production, and overseeing actual sales. Additionally, when the men associated with the printing and publishing business died, the widow would inherit the “shop” and—to earn wages for a living—would continue the operation in the name of their deceased husbands or newly acquired husbands.

One such “unrecognized” women publisher was Jacqueline du Thuit Vautrollier Field. She was the wife of a French Hugeonot who fled France for London in the 1560s. Mr. Vautrollier was a gifted and prominent printer in London at the time. He allegedly produced over 150 titles (books) over a twenty-year span. Upon his death in 1587, his wife, Jaqueline, was prohibited from printing any books under the auspices of his business name. As such, and with much persuasion to the Stationer’s Court (in London) from Mrs. Vautrollier, she was given permission to print a leaf (one page) of the Greek New Testament (which would have been an extremely challenging and difficult project). She was also granted permission to print a book based on Luther’s work on Galatians, which was apparently 600 pages in length. Later, and because of the quality of her work, she was able to obtain further publishing opportunities, printing pamphlets for members of the Royal Court of Queen Elizabeth that were in both French and English. Strategically, she decided to take on a new husband, Mr. Richard Field. In doing so, Mr. Field, a printer himself, acquired Mr. Vautrollier’s business and operated it under his name whilst providing Mrs. Vautrollier-Field with a newly recognized status within the printing/publishing community. Mr. Field was William Shakespeare’s contemporary and the first to print Shakespeare’s work. Richard and Jacqueline went on to establish a highly respected printing and publishing operation located at “The Blackfriars by Ludgate” (formerly the Vautrolliers’ Printing House) in central London well into the late 1500s. Jaqueline du Thuit Vautrollier Field, like many other “unrecognized” women of the time, was never recorded within official logs, records from controllers, or city registers. Her identity was unknown until she was courted by Mr. Field. Able to recognize her talents, he began to imprint her name on the title page (along with his own) as the official printers of applicable works.

In this series, I hope to “recognize” the names of a few of the hard-working women who have contributed expeditiously and painstakingly to building a foundation for spreading knowledge through the printing and publishing process of times past. “Research on women in book history has moved well beyond assumptions of their invisibility to imagine equally plausible alternatives for them” (10). 

Therefore, as I read this book and the many others I have acquired over the summer, it is my hope that women today, reading this blog, can appreciate the uncovering of those forgotten and invisible and—at the same time—perpetuate a continual process for bringing them forward to be affectionally and appropriately “recognized.”

Ken Macro
Professor of Graphic Communication
Cal Poly