Printing, A Desirable Career

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Printing, A Desirable Career published by the Los Angeles Trade-Tech Junior College in the mid-1950’s is this week’s focus in the Cataloging Department. The Clark Library holds an extensive (yet little used) collection of mid-20th century printing and graphic arts manuals, reference works, type and paper specimens, promotional literature, yearbooks, and archives of Los Angeles based printers, designers, and typographers. The Library received a couple of significant bequests that added to these holdings, those of Ward Ritchie just after he died in 1996, and the 2004 gift from Marian Harvey in memory of Joel Harvey. These materials are an invaluable source of printing history, especially since so much was ephemeral. From items in these collections we can trace the highs and lows of the commercial industry, print culture and capitalism, the beauty of commercial graphic designs, and advances in information technology.

This promotional booklet with a description of the skills and career potential for printers and bookbinders is a nostalgic look back at an industry that was changing at the moment this publication hit press. Numerous photographs of printers, compositors, binders, and graphic artists at work are included to tempt those looking for an educational opportunity that would promise a secure future. Statistics of industry growth prove the stability of the field and if the thought of inky fingers from the printing press wasn’t appealing, “the course in printing management at Trade-Tech is an invitation to Executive positions.”

After explicating the many exciting options of the ancient arts, the booklet features one-page profiles of successful printers that could call LATTC their alma mater. Kenneth H. Jann, Robert P. Crossley, Ward Ritchie, and Dale S. Chambers are the four fellows that found fame and fortune after graduation. This copy comes to us through the Ward Ritchie bequest. At Ward’s page is a simple inscription from his friend, Joe: “You made it.”

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This booklet was published the same year as that of the founding of NASA and DARPA. It was only a matter of time before space age technology reached the printing industry. Letterpress was already becoming commercially unviable, a phototypeset and offset printed book was published the year before, Xerox debuted in 1959 and by the mid-1960s most newspapers had adopted digital production processes. Letterpress printing collapsed almost overnight. How Los Angeles Trade-Tech College reorganized their departments and shifted their curriculum to focus on new methods of information distribution would be an interesting topic of further research. Suffice it to say, we hope our friend with the Pendleton plaid shirt and pompadour was able to enjoy a successful career as a printer!

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Printing, A Desirable Career. Los Angeles Trade-Tech Jr. College [Los Angeles: Los Angeles Trade Technical College, ca. 1958] [40] p.; ill., ports.; 23 x 30 cm.
Call no.: f Z243 .L87

From Head Cataloger Nina Schneider

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