Origins of Graphic Design in America, 1870-1920

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Origins of Graphic Design in America, 1870-1920
In this book, Ellen Mazur Thomson examines for the first time the early development of the graphic design profession. It has been thought that graphic design emerged as a profession only when European modernism arrived in America in the 1930s, yet Thomson shows that the practice of graphic design began much earlier. Shortly after the Civil War, when the mechanization of printing and reproduction technology transformed mass communication, new design practices emerged. Thomson investigates the development of these practices from 1870 to 1920, a time when designers came to recognize common interests and create for themselves a professional identity. What did the earliest designers do, and how did they learn to do it? What did they call themselves? How did they organize themselves and their work? Drawing on an array of original period documents, the author explores design activities in the printing, typefounding, advertising, and publishing industries. She considers the role of labor unions, advertising agencies, schools of art and design, and professional associations; the writings and ideas of Henry Lewis Johnson and William Addison Dwiggins; and the impact of the values of the Aesthetic Movement and the Arts and Crafts Movement.
Publication Date: 
August 25, 1997