Book Reviews -- Printers in Appalachia: The International Printing Pressmen and Assistants' Union of North America, 1907-1967 by Jack Mooney

Article excerpt

Jack Mooney's 193-page book, Printers in Appalachia, is not a treatise on the history of printing in Appalachia, nor even in Tennessee. It is not a "how-to" book on the intricacies of operating large presses. Instead, it is a book that relates what one skilled-crafts printing union was able to accomplish in northeast Tennessee in restoring health to its ill members, in caring for them in their old age, and in preparing better craftsmen for a changing trade.

The union was the International Printing Pressmen and Assistants' Union, and its members (mostly men) were the skilled workers who operated and fed paper into presses largely at commercial printing houses in the United States and Canada. In 1889 this union had split off from the major printing union, the International Typographical Union, partly because type compositors dominated the ITU.

Mooney, who is an associate professor of journalism at East Tennessee State University, uses union records and publications and other sources to trace the course of employment issues and union demands that preceded George L. Berry's election as IPPAU president in 1907, when he was only 24.

Berry manned IPPAU's helm for 41 years. His dreams and drive, plus a series of chance circumstances, led to the union's decision to locate its sanatorium for tubercular members at Haley Springs, Tennessee, a former health resort in a remote mountain valley that became known as Pressman's Home. Long before the days of public-health consciousness, the union instigated a vigorous crusade to eradicate tuberculosis as a scourge among its members.

With the support of the membership, Berry persuaded the union to build the sanatorium in 1911 and the extensive quarters for superannuated (retired) members, to establish its acclaimed technical school there as well, to organize an extensive farming operation to support the needs of a growing community, and to relocate the union's headquarters from urban Cincinnati to rural Tennessee. …