PRINTING AND PUBLISHING IN CLEVELAND - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History
PRINTING AND PUBLISHING IN CLEVELAND developed slowly and modestly, and it was not until the 1940s and the flowering of the WORLD PUBLISHING CO. that Cleveland could boast a first-class trade publisher. Although Cleveland was discovered and settled in 1796, as late as 1820 there were only 606 people. The completion of the OHIO AND ERIE CANAL in 1833 proved a stimulus to Cleveland's growth, and by 1840 the population stood at 6,071. The press had arrived in 1818 to print the village's first newspaper, and Cleveland's first locally produced book, advertised in the newspaper that allegedly printed it as Catherine Brown, the Converted Cherokee, appeared in 1820. But except for newspapers, publishing in Cleveland did not really begin until 1837, when Sanford & Lott issued the first business directory. That same year they obtained a license to print 10,000 copies of Webster's Spelling Book. The following year their press issued an anonymous work entitled Yorick and Other Poems, described by one scholar as "the first volume of poems published in northern Ohio." In 1838 MOSES. C. YOUNGLOVE†, a bookseller, acquired a press and issued the Western Reserve Almanac and Webster's Spelling Book. Thus, by the end of the 1830s, Cleveland had 2 publishers.
The centers of American publishing, as might be expected, were in the old Colonial cities. Philadelphia was an early leader, harboring a total of 225 publishers of various kinds from 1742-1820. Later, as a result of its phenomenal growth as a commercial center, New York would outstrip Philadelphia to become America's publishing capital. Closer to home, Cincinnati was developing into America's 4th-largest publishing center, after New York, Philadelphia, and Boston, with 12 major publishing houses employing 700 people, to serve a population of 116,000 in 1850. By contrast, the U.S. Census of 1850 reported a population of 17,034 in Cleveland, which was served by a total of 5 printer-publisher-booksellers. Cleveland had by this time become the center of a network of roads, stage lines, and, increasingly, railroads, however, and the city's population would double with each census over the next several decades.
Because printing and publishing were mostly commercial and local government-oriented, they tended to locate in close proximity to those functions, in Cleveland's old commercial core area, now called the WAREHOUSE DISTRICT, located north of Superior Ave. between the CUYAHOGA RIVER and PUBLIC SQUARE. In 1857, of 10 printers, 9 were located in this area; in 1885, 60% of Cleveland's 54 printers were still to be found in the area. By 1905, as Cleveland's commercial core spread southward and eastward, only 22% of the city's 129 printers were still in the area. Numerically that amounts to 28 firms, not far removed from the 32 of 1885, which indicates that, printing was a locationally stable industry and an intensive user of commercial space. The 1905 figures also show that of those firms located downtown, 12% were in the CAXTON BUILDING, which was specifically designed to accommodate the printing trades.
The improvement of east-west transportation due to the RAILROADS was probably a factor in the opening of Jewett, Proctor & Worthington in Cleveland in 1851. The firm, billing itself as "publishers, booksellers and stationers," was an affiliate of the John P. Jewett Co. of Boston, the firm that agreed to issue Uncle Tom's Cabin after Mrs. Stowe's usual publisher, afraid of southern reaction, refused. It was because of this connection that both "Cleveland: Jewett, Proctor and Worthington" and "Boston: John P. Jewett and Co." appear on the title page of Uncle Tom's Cabin. There was little else of note in antebellum and immediate post-Civil War book publishing in Cleveland, save for a succession of city directories. In 1857 the Jewett firm and its Boston parent published Mount Vernon and Other Poems by HARVEY RICE†, a Cleveland educator and man of letters. In the 1860s, Fairbanks, Benedict & Co. published Chas. Whittlesey's Early History of Cleveland, Ohio (1867) and Maurice Joblin's Cleveland, Past and Present (1869). These were Cleveland's first local histories, locally published, and they began a trend that has continued, sporadically, to the present day (see HISTORIES OF CLEVELAND).
The 1880s were a watershed decade in the growth of Cleveland publishing. The city's educational and cultural institutions were being formed, and as if in response to an atmosphere of increasing sophistication, 4 new book publishing houses came into being: Burrows Bros., the Imperial Press, Wm. W. Williams, and the American Publishing Co. Cleveland's most successful publishing house during the last two decades of the 19th century was BURROWS Bros. At first their list consisted of educational or self-help works, e.g., shorthand texts. Then in 1889 they published a "fine" edition of R. D. Blackmore's Lorna Doone. The book was acclaimed for its paper, binding, and typography, and especially for its several hundred illustrations, executed by a number of well-known artists of the time. Burrows's most successful imprint was The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents, a translation of the writings of Jesuit missionaries who came with the early French explorers of the Ohio Valley-Great Lakes region. The finished work ran to 73 volumes and, like Lorna Doone, was praised for its physical beauty as much as for its content. Chas. Burrows and his printer, the Imperial Press, may possibly be credited with starting a minor trend toward the production of bibliophile treasures. About this time (1892), the ROWFANT CLUB was founded, and as Cleveland's bibliophile society,, one of its activities has been the publication of fine editions of literary works. One of the club's early members was Burrows, whose love of fine books may have contributed to his eventual abandonment of the book trade. In collaboration with his friend ELROY M. AVERY†, Burrows spent lavishly in trying to produce a monumental history of the U.S. The first volume of A History of the U.S. and Its People appeared in 1904; in all, 7 of a projected 12 volumes were published. Burrows never fully recouped his expenses, and in 1912 he sold the company to a local partnership. Meanwhile, in 1902 Arthur H. Clark, a former partner of Burrows, started his own company and began publishing works on American history. Between 1902-29, Clark published 68 titles in Cleveland and achieved national renown as a publisher of western Americana. In 1930 he relocated to Glendale, CA, where the company remains in business.
Cleveland's most successful and best-known publisher was the World Publishing Co. Formed in 1929 when the Commercial Bookbinding Co. bought the World Syndicate Co., a reprint house that specialized in Bibles and dictionaries, the firm began to prosper in the late 1930s under the direction of BEN ZEVIN†. While retaining the Bible and dictionary lines, Zevin turned World into a trade publisher, with such titles as MacKinlay Kantor's Andersonville, Simone de Beauvoir's The Mandarins, and Harry Golden's Only in America. World was sold to the Times Mirror Co. of Los Angeles in 1962. It continued as a publishing concern until 1974, when the Bible and dictionary lines were sold to Wm. Collins of Great Britain (the trade list having been sold to T. Y. Crowell the year before).
Scholarly publishing on a more or less regular basis began in Cleveland in 1870, when the WESTERN RESERVE HISTORICAL SOCIETY began its Tract Series. The series ceased publication in 1929, with Tract No. 110. After a 13-year hiatus, the society started its Publication Series in 1943, producing such notable works as ELBERT JAY BENTON†'s Cultural Story of an American City: Cleveland (1943), and EDMUND H. CHAPMAN†'s Cleveland: Village to Metropolis (1964). The Western Reserve Historical Society pursues a policy of scholarly publishing, often issuing as many as 4 titles a year. Cleveland's other major scholarly publisher was the press of CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY Founded in 1938 as the Press of Western Reserve Univ., it produced only 1 or 2 titles a year until the university merged with Case Institute of Technology in 1967, providing the stimulus toward creating a high-quality university press. During the period 1965-70 its sales increased tenfold, and it was renowned for its translations series, literary criticism, and medical publishing. But when hard times struck higher education in the 1970s, scholarly presses suffered, including the, press of CWRU. Citing an unmanageable deficit, the university Board of Trustees voted on 9 Feb. 1973 to close the press. Although CLEVELAND STATE UNIVERSITY does not have a press as such, it has issued scholarly works such as the Ethnic Communities in Cleveland series under the university imprint.
Throughout the 19th century, periodical publishing thrived in Cleveland. From 1818 until 1900, over 800 periodicals--newspapers and magazines--were published. Some magazines were of a practical bent, such as House & Garden, or domestic, such as the MOTHERS' AND YOUNG LADIES' GUIDE. Others sought a more learned readership, such as the Magazine of Western History, which contained authoritative and well-documented articles, as well as book reviews and "historical notes." A noteworthy journal of the arts was Brainard's Musical World, established in 1864 as the Western Musical World. Published by S. BRAINARD'S SONS, local sheet-music publishers, the magazine was devoted to the cause of "music and fine arts in the Great West." By 1871 they were issuing 25,000 copies, each issue carrying several pieces of music along with articles and news items. As transportation continued to improve, it became more difficult for local publishers to compete with the products of eastern periodical publishers in the areas of cultural and general-interest magazines. But Cleveland has done well in business, technical, and industrial publishing. By the 1880s there were 39 titles covering such various fields as farming, engineering, and railroading. There were labor magazines, too, e.g., Labor Chronicle, Independent Labor Press, and Bakers' Union.
One of the most successful of 20th-century Cleveland publishers was the Penton Press. Founded in 1901, it prospered over the years, issuing such titles as Industry Week, Foundry, and Machine Design. In 1976 Penton merged with the Industrial Publishing Co. (est. 1930) to form PENTON, INC. The new company publishes 27 titles, including Progressive Architecture, Air Transport World, and Modern Office Technology. The arts have not been neglected by 20th-century Cleveland publishers, either. Some interesting literary or "little" magazines have appeared over the years, beginning with American Weave, which published from 1936-71. Its first editors were Loring and Alice Crane Williams (HART CRANE†'s aunt). At first an outlet for northern Ohio poets, American Weave became a national magazine in the 1960s, publishing many poets whose reputations were to grow, including the controversial D. A. LEVY†, who along with writing turned to publishing several magazines in the sixties, the best-known being the Buddhist Third Class Junkmail Oracle (see UNDERGROUND PRESS). Free Lance first appeared in 1950, an outgrowth of, the Free Lance Poets & Prose Workshop. By 1955 it was receiving national attention and submissions from such poets as Robt. Creeley and Marianne Moore. Financial difficulties caused its eventual demise in 1980.
Small-press publishing in Cleveland has been an integral part of the little-magazine movement. For instance, the editors of American Weave produced an anthology series, America Singing, as well as full-length collections of the works of individual poets. Under the imprint of the Renegade Press, d.a. levy turned out 2 chapbooks of his own work in the 1960s, along with the collected works of some of his friends. Cleveland's most active small-press publisher of recent years was the Poetry Center at Cleveland State Univ. (see CLEVELAND STATE UNIVERSITY POETRY CENTER), which has produced anthologies of national and regional poets, including Poetry: Cleveland (1971). The center also published The Gamut, a literary and general-interest magazine until its demise in a budget pinch in the 1990s. Another active press was Bits, presided over by Robt. Wallace of the faculty of Case Western Reserve Univ., which produced a chapbook series, a magazine called Bits, and an annual of light verse. Although few extended beyond commercial or local patronage, there were more than 20 book publishers and nearly 100 periodical publishers active in Cleveland in 1994.
Last Modified: 22 Jul 1997 10:47:15 AM
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