The Government Printing Office 1861

The Government Printing Office 1861

The Government Printing Office 1861
The Government Printing Office typesetting room, c. 1910.

Joint Resolution No. 25, James Buchanan (1791–1868)

The United States Government Printing Office (GPO) was established by Congress in June 1860 and commenced operations on March 4, 1861, with 350 workers. Since its establishment, GPO has occupied the corner of North Capitol and H Streets, and it has continued to use the most efficient and cost-effective manufacturing processes to deliver genuine and secure government papers and goods to the American people.

On June 23, 1860, President James Buchanan signed Joint Resolution No. 25 authorizing the establishment of the GPO. On the same day that President Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated, the agency opened its doors on March 4, 1861.

During the Civil War and during the 19th century, the GPO began carrying government information by horseback. GPO began delivering government information through its collaboration with libraries around the turn of the twentieth century, and it is still going strong today. Using Monotype and Linotype machines, the GPO adopted machine typesetting in the early 1900s. The productivity of typesetting was increased from minutes per line to lines per minute. In addition, the organization used some of the earliest vehicles to make supplies to Congress. The United States passport was first produced by GPO in 1926, and the State Department continues to chose GPO to create passports with the most up-to-date security features.

With the Linotron, GPO joined the computer age in the late 1960s, adjusting processes to automated typesetting. The most significant change in the agency’s history happened towards the close of the twentieth century, when GPO entered the Digital Age by making government information available online. The public may now use govinfo to obtain information on their mobile devices from anywhere. With the arrival of inkjet and eight-color presses, GPO production areas reacted by adopting more efficient press and bindery equipment.

GPO has simplified and changed from a print-only business to an integrated publishing company as digital communication and publishing technology have advanced. Congress renamed the organization the United States Government Publishing Office on December 17, 2014.

Through publications, displays, public engagements, and research, the GPO’s history program chronicles almost 150 years of Keeping America Informed. GPO received the American Printing History Association’s Institutional Award in 2017, which recognizes a “distinguished contribution to the research, documentation, preservation, or dissemination of printing history.” GPO’s “services in expanding the study of the history of printing and its kindred arts” are recognized in the award citation.


Law Reporting and Legal Publishing (1872);

The United States Code (1926);

The Federal Register (1936).


The Government Printing Office 1861

The Law Book: From Hammurabi to the International Criminal Court, 250 Milestones in the History of Law (Sterling Milestones) Hardcover – Illustrated, 22 Oct. 2015, English edition by Michael H. Roffer (Autor)