Printing Office

Date: Machine shop in the Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.
Image: Between 1909 and 1932
Source: Work is Public Domain; image from Library of Congress

The delegates’ visit to the U.S Printing Office in Washington D.C struck a chord – the whole group was attracted by the calm and calculated atmosphere of the working environment. They witnessed synchronicity in action during a tour of the composing room on the top floor. From above, the delegates watched as mechanical typesetting, stereotyping, and printing services worked in tandem using steam power. While men and women worked side-by-side in the office, the group observed that roles requiring greater precision, such as typesetting, were dominated by women. Kunitake Kume made a note that because of the newfound technological progress in machinery, which had turned printing into a relatively inexpensive process, a door had opened for the mass production of books. Similarly, in Japan during the Edo Period (1603-1867) accessibility to cheap printing had drastically improved the spread of knowledge and information.


Kume, Kunitake. “A Record of Washington, D.C., 2.” Japan Rising: The Iwakura Embassy to the USA and Europe, edited by Chushichi Tsuzuki and R. Jules Young, 64-67. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

久米邦武. “第十二巻 華盛頓府ノ記 中” [Chapter. 12 A Record of Washington, D.C., 2]. In “特命全権大使米欧回覧実記 第1編” [The Records of Iwakura Mission’s trip in Europe and America].