Melanie Lee


The evolution of women from working mainly in the household to the work place began out of an economic need on the United States' part. With the westward expansion of the country and the Civil War during the nineteenth century, there was a shortage of male labor and women were hired as unskilled workers, at first, to keep the economic growth pace of the country in line with its physical expansion. Women became the predominant labor force in industries such as tobacco, textiles and bookbinding. As book manufacturing grew to provide books for the mass population, women were the manual labor force of the bindery. The bindery is the most labor intense area of the Graphic Arts Industry- Today, one can enter any large printing plant or any small commercial printer and find the majority of the bindery labor force to still be women. What impact did these women have on the bindery? Did these women have an influence or contribute to bindery inventions that occurred during the nineteenth century and the Industrial Revolution? Do women have an impact on the technical developments that are occurring today? The objective of this study was to establish an hypothesis, or hypotheses, on the impact of women, or a woman, on the technical inventions, developments and advancements that have occurred in the bindery. The methodology of this study was to conduct historical research and to conduct interviews for the current perspective. Historical research was included to give a more complete perspective as to when women first began working in binderies, who these women were and the attitude of society which told women what they could and could not do in the bindery. It is from this history that the theoretical basis for this study was developed. The type of interview conducted was an ethnographic interview. An ethnography is a research method used by anthropologists to describe a culture from the perspective of those persons who are a part of that culture or the native point of view. For this study, the bindery is the culture and women who work in binderies are the natives of that culture. In conclusion of the historical research conducted for this study and as a result of the interviews conducted for this study, no woman, or women, were found to have invented, technically developed or technically advanced any bindery equipment or to have an impact there of. From the interviews conducted these results are not shown to be conclusive. An impact which was theorized that women may have had on the bindery is that women are more concerned with the quality of their work and that men are more concerned with the productivity level of their work. It may theoretically be more efficient for a bindery to have both men and women employed within, each at certain tasks. There are recommendations for further study as a result of this study. In general, the area of women in the bindery requires more research both historically and currently. For women who currently work in binderies, their contributions and activities need to be documented. The hypotheses stated should be tested. Testing the hypotheses will verify if women are indeed more quality oriented than men and further investigation will need to be done as to why this is so, if they indeed are. A full ethnography of women, perhaps just in one bindery, should be done. The initial objective of investigating the impact of women on the bindery equipment and technology is recommended for further study and the methodology recommended is by an anthropological method called anthropomorphical .

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Bookbinding industry--United States; Women bookbinders--United States; Printing industry--United States

Publication Date


Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

School of Print Media (CIAS)


Rebsamen, Werner


Note: imported from RIT’s Digital Media Library running on DSpace to RIT Scholar Works. Physical copy available through RIT's The Wallace Library at: HD8039.B65 L43 1992


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