October 18, 2011 (Tuesday)
Co-Sponsored by the Bibliographical Society of America
Astor Curator and Department Head, The Morgan Library and Museum
Papermaking in America: A Progress Report
The lecture will summarize the findings in Bidwell’s forthcoming book, American Paper Mills, 1690-1832, to be published by the American Antiquarian Society and the University Press of New England, 2012. In that book Bidwell identifies and describes more than five hundred paper mills, a large body of evidence providing the means to trace the growth of the paper trade and its close connections with printing and publishing ventures in America. Bidwell will present an overview of a typical paper mill of the period, its personnel, products, and manufacturing facilities. The statistical sample is large enough that changes can be detected in the capitalization, configuration, and productivity of mills during the colonial period, the early national period, and the beginnings of the industrial era. Bidwell’s talk will also trace the careers of noteworthy papermakers in an attempt to show how they got into the business, where they obtained working capital, how they expected to sell their goods, and why many of them failed. The lecture will conclude with an account of the first papermaking machines.