H-60. The History of European & American Papermaking

Timothy D. Barrett John Bidwell

Papermaking from its introduction in Europe through the Industrial Revolution, emphasizing changes in technology and the economics of the trade. Topics include: labor and management, the identification and description of paper in early books and manuscripts, and the revival of hand-papermaking in the twentieth century. The course will include demonstrations of manufacturing techniques, and sessions in which students will date and localize early papers on the basis of watermark and other physical evidence.

This course will examine the historical setting of early papermaking, its aesthetics and technology. The lectures will view (1) changes in technology in the light of documentary evidence; (2) the economics and organization of the paper trade (mostly in England, France, and America); (3) the relationship between the paper trade and the book trade; and (4) paper as bibliographical evidence.

No hands-on experience in printing or papermaking is required, but applicants should have a general acquaintance with the history of books and printing.

Course History

Timothy Barrett and John Bidwell co-teach this course.
This course is not currently being offered. Please do not list on any RBS fellowship or scholarship applications.

Course Resources

  • Advance Reading List
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Related Courses


  • Timothy D. Barrett
  • John Bidwell

Timothy D. Barrett

Timothy D. Barrett is Professor at the University of Iowa School of Library and Information Science and the Center for the Book. Barrett was director of the Center for the Book between 1996 and 2002 and again became director in 2012. His publications include the standard Japanese Papermaking: Traditions, Tools and Techniques (1983) and other books, articles, and videos on the history, technique, and aesthetics of both Asian and Western papermaking. He is a 2009 MacArthur Fellow.

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John Bidwell

John Bidwell is Astor Curator of Printed Books and Bindings at the Morgan Library & Museum, before which he was Curator of Graphic Arts in the Princeton University Library. He has written extensively on the history of papermaking in England and America.

Courses Formerly Offered

  • Microcomputers for Rare Book Libraries (1984)
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