Women's Printing Society


The Women’s Printing Society, founded in 1876 by Emma Paterson, holds significant relevance in the history of modern printing and women in graphic design. At a time when women’s employment opportunities were severely limited and often relegated to domestic or low-paying jobs, the Women’s Printing Society emerged as a pioneering force, challenging gender norms and providing women with a platform to work in the printing trade.

  1. Empowerment through Employment: The Women’s Printing Society played a crucial role in empowering women by offering them employment in the printing industry. By entering a field traditionally dominated by men, the women involved in the society gained access to skilled employment, allowing them to earn higher wages and achieve financial independence. This initiative was part of a broader movement advocating for women’s rights and economic empowerment.
  2. Co-operative Structure: The society’s co-operative structure, where shareholders and workers shared profits, was progressive for its time. This model not only encouraged a sense of ownership and pride among the women involved but also contributed to a more equitable distribution of resources. The co-operative nature of the Women’s Printing Society foreshadowed similar models in the modern printing industry, emphasizing collaboration and fair compensation for all contributors.
  3. Advancing Women’s Interests: The society’s publications, including the Woman’s Herald, material for Women’s Suffrage Societies, and Women’s Liberal Associations, were aligned with women’s interests and concerns of the day. By producing content related to women’s rights, suffrage, and liberal ideals, the Women’s Printing Society actively contributed to social and political movements. Through graphic design, they communicated powerful messages, shaping public opinion and advocating for change.
  4. Legacy in Graphic Design: The Women’s Printing Society’s work paved the way for women to establish their presence in the graphic design industry. While the roles might have initially been limited to printing, typesetting, and layout, these experiences provided valuable foundations for women interested in pursuing careers in graphic design. The society’s publications served as early examples of design work driven by social and political causes, a tradition that continues to inspire modern graphic designers engaged in advocacy and activism.

The Women’s Printing Society was not merely a historical footnote but a trailblazing initiative that challenged societal norms, provided employment opportunities, and contributed significantly to the history of modern printing and graphic design. Through their co-operative approach, focus on women’s interests, and pioneering spirit, the Women’s Printing Society became a beacon of progress, leaving a lasting legacy for future generations of women in the printing and graphic design fields. Their story stands as a testament to the resilience and creativity of women in overcoming barriers and shaping the trajectory of graphic design history.

Womens printing society:  Woman’s Herald
Source: www.bl.uk
Womens printing society: Woman’s Herald