The Development of the Howard University Publishing Program

Clifford L. Muse, Jr., Ph.D.

     Howard University’s Industrial Department was established to afford non-professional track students the opportunity to enroll in a manual arts/industrial curriculum. Students participating in the program would learn manual and industrial skills that would enable them to earn a livelihood after graduation.1

     Prior to 1883, the unavailability of faculty, staff and equipment hindered the development of the Industrial Department, even though the University had already designated a vacant brick building formally used by the Normal Department as the site for industrial training.2  In the fall of 1883, a friend of William F. Mitchell agreed to pay his salary as Superintendent of the Industrial Department.3   Mitchell’s generous benefactor and other supporters who were members of the "Denomination of Friends" provided financial resources enabling the University to open the Industrial Department with adequate equipment and supplies.4  Within two years of its activation, Howard’s industrial training program operated out of a refurbished two-story brick building that had been renovated with funds from the United States Congress.5 The building, measuring seventy-five feet by forty feet, was alternately called Industrial Hall, Industrial Spaulding Hall, and Spaulding Hall. It housed a tin and iron shop in its basement, an office and carpenter shop on its first floor, and printing, shoemaking and tailoring rooms on its second floor.6

     The printing office of the University’s Industrial Department became the unofficial University press. The first 1883 publication by the office was entitled The University Reporter.7   By 1888, the printing program of the Industrial Department offered practical training in typesetting, distribution, composition, proof-reading, and press work.8  During the same year, the printing office obtained a "new outfit of newspaper and job type," new printers’ tools, and a Gordon press donated by Messrs. R. Hoe and Company of New York.9  The printing office of the Industrial Department was able to purchase a "half-medium Gordon press" during the academic year March 1890-March1891 with funds from the United States Congress.10  Also by this time, the printing office was publishing The Howard Standard on a monthly basis.11


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February 2000