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Tour: Iowa Historical Printing

Conference attendees in the composing room of the Grinnell Herald-Register composing room. (Tad Boehmer)

Wednesday, October 24. Led by Gary Frost and Rich Dana


As part of the pre-conference historical printing tour on Wednesday, 18 visitors got an exclusive preview of the Grinnell Herald-Register Renovation and Restoration project. Like many small-town papers, the Herald-Register closed their in-house printing operation decades ago, but unlike many others, the owners mothballed the letterpress shop rather than scrapping it. Conference-goers were the first outside group to inspect the local team’s progress in bringing the “back shop” back to life, peruse the extensive collection of standing job type, and talk one-on-one with the Martha Pinder and Peggy (Pinder) Elliot, third-generation owner/publishers of the beloved twice-weekly newspaper. 

University of Iowa Center for the Book/School of Library and Information Science  MFA/MA candidate Rich Dana was granted a year-long graduate assistantship to help launch the project, funded by the UI Office of Outreach and Engagement. Dana was on hand to discuss efforts to refurbish the Vandercook 320G, 1926 Intertype linecaster, Chandler and Price Platen press and Heidelberg “Redball.” 

Visitors toured the Herald building, a two-story Federal-style structure that was purpose-built in 1916 to house a state-of-the-art printing facility, which is now on the National Historic Register. They celebrated the printing of the first event poster of the fledgling Promised Land Press (the first print job since 1993) discussed the plans to create a regional destination for research into local history and a hands-on educational center for letterpress printing.

New specimens of wood type at the Grinnell Herald-Register composing room. (Tad Boehmer)

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