The U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) has been part of American life for 150 years. GPO was established by a congressional joint resolution in 1860 and began work on the same day President Lincoln was inaugurated, March 4, 1861, on the very same corner of North Capitol Street and H Street, NW in Washington, DC that it still occupies today. A special exhibit was produced for the 150th anniversary year which examines the role GPO plays in the work of the Government and the everyday life of the public.
The process of creating Government publications is highlighted, with a particular focus on the many generations of information technology that have been in regular use throughout GPO's history. The centerpiece of the exhibit is an original first printing of the September 1862 Emancipation Proclamation, issued by President Abraham Lincoln as a General Order of the War Department. The proclamation was printed by GPO and shows proofreader's marks that marked revisions made to the final proclamation issued in January of 1863. It is on loan from the Rare Books and Special Collections Division of the Library of Congress. This historic document is juxtaposed with a large collection of humbler documents, ranging from tax forms to consumer brochures, which the public has in their homes, offices, and wallets without any knowledge that they came from GPO.
Earlier this year, as GPO was planning the exhibit, it asked depository libraries around the country if it would be possible to borrow from their collections specific items that they wished to feature. The Wyoming State Law Library is a depository library and received a copy of the request. We found we owned one of volumes requested and offered to lend it to GPO for the exhibit. On display is the Wyoming State Law Library’s copy of Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression (volume 1) which was issued by the Office of United States Chief of Counsel for Prosecution of Axis Criminality in 1946.
For those who may be visiting Washington, the exhibit is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at 732 North Capitol Street NW. The exhibit will remain open through the end of 2011.