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Government Printing Office History Videos

History of the U.S. Government Printing Office - The U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) was created in 1860 by an Act of Congress. GPO opened its doors for business on March 4, 1861, the same day that Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated as President. Through war and peace, boom and bust, GPO has been there, producing and distributing the official publications of our government.

Printers set type by hand under candlelight. Printing presses were driven by steam and deliveries each morning to the Capitol were by horse-drawn cart. Since then, GPO has had to adapt to new technologies and new ways of meeting the information and product needs of Congress, Federal Agencies, and the American people.

U.S. Government Printing Office's 150th Anniversary History Exhibit - The U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) opens an exhibit showcasing work produced by employees since the agency opened for business on March 4, 1861. This video gives viewers a peek at some of the historical items on display.

American Artifacts: Government Printing Office - Open for business in 1861 and located about six blocks from the capitol building, the United States Government Printing Office still prints the Congressional Record each day the House and Senate are in session. Learn the history of GPO and see historic printing jobs, including the "Official Records of the War of the Rebellion," which took 20 years to print, and volume 27 of the "Warren Commission Report on the Assassination of President Kennedy."

Lincoln and His Printers: GPO in the Civil War- From GPO's first veterans to the relationship between President Lincoln and the leader of GPO, John Defrees, this video blends historical documents, photos, and interviews with historians to present new information and understanding of the role of GPO and its employees in the Civil War.

American History TV visited the Baltimore Museum of Industry to see a demonstration of historic printing methods and machines, including the revolutionary Linotype, which was invented in Baltimore by German immigrant Ottmar Mergenthaler.

Linotype: The Film. Learn about the feature-length documentary that tells the story of the invention that sparked an information revolution here at GPO and around the world.


GPO History Talks & Upcoming Events


For queries on GPO history, to request presentations, or to arrange access to GPO exhibits, contact George Barnum, Agency Historian:

  • Email address:
  • ph 202.512.1991
  • Standard mail:
    U.S. Government Publishing Office
    732 North Capitol St. NW
    Washington, DC 20401