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Empire State School of Printing collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: RITArc-0053

Scope and Contents

The Empire State School of Printing collection consists of documents related to New York State's first printing school. Most of the collection is made up of general background information on the institution. This includes correspondence regarding research on the school, typed summaries, and handwritten notes. There are also a few miscellaneous items, such as a photocopy of Cornell University's alumni file on Ross William Kellogg.

The collection also includes several copies of course schedules from the school's final year (1937) and lists of graduating seniors. The lists from 1935-1937 are accompanied by headshots of the students. Additionally, there is an original diploma awarded to Charles Edward Kennedy in 1925 and two photocopies of Stanley R. Rinehart's diploma. Commencement invitations (1923-1927) and programs (1923-1937) are also in the collection. There are several copies of the school's official publication, The Student Printer, and a clippings file.

Added to the collection is one 8.5 x 12.5" photograph of the 1929 graduating class of the Empire State School of Printing.


  • Creation: 1922-1938

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to researchers.

Biographical / Historical

The Empire State School of Printing was founded in Ithaca, NY in 1922. The fourth institution of its kind, the school was created to train both men and women in the printing industry. Up until that time, most printers trained through a five-year apprenticeship program. After completing the program, the new printers expected to be hired at union wages. Many local newspapers could not afford these rates, thus an alternative training program was created. Additionally, the new program helped to ensure that printers in New York State could keep up with the changing technology of the field.

The school was established by the New York State Publishers Association (NYSPA). The association had formed an education committee in 1921 to address the needs of the industry. Chaired by John W. Baker of the Ithaca News, the committee decided that NYSPA would support the school for three years. In February 1922, Frank E. Gannett, President of NYSPA, announced that the school would be opened that spring.

On May 1, 1922, the Empire State School of Printing opened its doors to its first three students under the direction of Ross William Kellogg. Curriculum at the time included English, history of printing, elementary composition, management, and advertising typography. The program was six months and focused on composition rather than presswork. Although it never expanded its class size to more than about 20 per year, the school did increase its offerings, adding a linotype and intertype operations program and an engraving section.

Enrollment at the school began to decline, especially during the Depression. In 1937, Gannett reached an agreement with the Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute (now the Rochester Institute of Technology) whereby the Institute would absorb the printing school. Under the direction of Dr. Mark Ellingson, the Institute's president, the School of Printing was transferred to RAMI with its first class starting in the Fall of 1937. The program was changed to a two year format and the Institute was given complete administrative control. This merger was one of several acquisitions by the Institute over the next few decades; some of the other being the School for American Craftsmen in 1950, the McKechnie-Lunger School of Commerce in 1952, and Eisenhower College in 1979.


1 Linear Feet (2 document boxes)




Materials related to the Empire State School of Printing, an early predecessor of the Rochester Institute of Technology's School of Print Media. The collection includes general information on the school, as well as ephemera, copies of diplomas, course schedules, lists of graduates, and clippings.


Materials are divided between five folders. The first folder contains general information on the school, the second contains commencement invitations and programs, and the third holds diplomas, course schedules, and lists of graduating students. Copies of the school's publication, The Student Printer, are housed in the fourth folder, followed by a folder of clippings.

Physical Location

C.S. South, Shelf 742

Related Materials

RIT Scrapbook: 08 July 1937 (source: 3x5 card file)

RIT School of Printing records

Processing Information

Finding aid created by Lara Nicosia in January 2011.

Empire State School of Printing collection
RIT Archives
Lara Nicosia
12 January 2011
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the RIT Archives Repository

Rochester NY 14623 USA