Skip to Main Content
Ask Us!Toggle Chat Widget

printing for the people: Home

Walker Library / Special Collections / Printing for the People


Press and print in everyday life


From the time Gutenberg printed and published his Bible in 1455 , printing and the availability of printed texts exerted an increasingly significant force in human communication and the dissemination of knowledge.

Print reached and shaped countless aspects of everyday life. The production and increased distribution of religious books, treatises, and texts, for instance, empowered individuals to engage with their faith independently, promoting religious literacy and diversifying theological perspectives. In government and civic life, print democratized the circulation of legal documents and official decrees, making laws accessible to a wider population and ensuring a more informed citizenry. This transparency fostered the development of modern legal and political systems, as people became better informed about their rights and responsibilities.

The printing press also facilitated the dissemination of news and information through newspapers and periodicals. It connected individuals across vast distances, enabling the sharing of ideas and opinions that contributed to public discourse. Print’s impact on education was no less significant as printed textbooks and educational materials became widely available to a broader segment of society, laying the foundation for modern education systems and the transmission of academic knowledge. And print contributed to commerce and economies. A capacity to quickly produce identical printed materials allowed for the standardization of information and branding. Businesses could use the resources of print to create eye-catching advertisements, distribute them widely, and target specific demographics. This laid the foundation for the growth of consumer culture and the power of branding. Last, but not least, the availability of print fed a growing demand for entertainment—plays, games, paper toys—and worked its way into every sector of domestic life.

Today, we are the heirs of nearly 600 years of print. Even though the technology of printing has changed, we remain enveloped in print in our daily lives. Indeed, we are so accustomed to printed materials, and they are so inescapable, that we can hardly comprehend a time when print was scarce.


Exhibit curated by:

Alan Boehm, Head of Special Collections
Susan Hanson, Curator
Susan Martin, Special Collections Librarian


Website design by:

Shabnam Hosseinzadeh, Senior Specialist – Web Developer