Towner Fellows’ Lounge
The 1947–49 Chicago Printer’s Strike and the History of Typography, J. Dakota Brown
Drawing on the Newberry Library’s collection of Chicago Typographical Union records, this paper revisits a salient but neglected moment in the labor history of typography. During the 1947–49 printer’s strike, the form of the Chicago Tribune changed drastically. Its monospaced font and awkwardly justified columns were traces of the new “justifying typewriters” on which the paper’s clerical staff typeset articles while union Linotype operators picketed outside. Strike-breaking tactics thus produced an early experiment in the paper paste-up, photoreproduction, and offset printing processes that would later revolutionize the fields of graphic design and typography. This paper will close with an argument for an expanded historiography of design that critically engages histories of labor, technology, and capitalism.
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