The Printing Press Project at Middle Tennessee State University
Students and staff at MTSU "pull the bar" on Constitution Day in 2008.
One of only a handful of operational, reproduction 18th century printing presses in the U.S., the Printing Press Project provides experiential learning opportunities on the MTSU campus, and in the K-12 school system.
Constructed in 2004 the press is based upon the English Common Press used by Benjamin Franklin when he worked as a journeyman printer in London in the 1720s. It was constructed of hand-hewn chestnut and white oak nearly 100 years old by two craftsmen on campus.
Since that time it has been used in school and community demonstrations and workshops to illustrate the tremendous impact the press had on the development of our nation and the importance of care in designing and producing documents.
After learning about the press, students understand a little bit better what it feels like to be an eighteenth century printer.
The press project currently operates out of a room on the fourth floor of the library where classes receive instruction, visiting artists experience the rare opportunity to use an reproduction 18th century press, and school children can see history come alive.
The press project offers students and the community a dramatic and unforgettable experience through activities that integrate history, writing and letterpress printing. Activities include lectures to university and school students about historical printing, a visiting artist each semester, community print nights, and printing demonstrations for community groups.
The construction of the press was made possible with grant money awarded to Walker Library faculty members Dr. Alan Boehm, Director of Special Collections, and William Black, Administrative Services Librarian, and Janet Higgins, Department of Art.