The U.S. Government Printing Office, its mission in transition as Congress and the Obama administration look to save money by eliminating the printing of some of its core publications, is looking to its past. The agency opens an exhibit next week on its 150-year history, with the centerpiece an original printed copy of the preliminary version of the Emancipation Proclamation.
In 1862, the Printing Office printed the early version as a “general order” issued by President Lincoln in his role as commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, according to GPO officials. The office printed 15,000 copies for the War Department. These were then distributed to military commanders and their troops and diplomats in foreign countries.
The Printing Office copy on display, on loan from the Library of Congress, contains a printer’s proofing marks and corrections that were made in the final version of the Emancipation Proclamation issued in 1863.
The exhibit opened Wednesday with a ribbon-cutting for Printing Office employees and the media. It opens to the public June 22, at the GPO headquarters at 732 North Capitol St. NW (at the corner of H St..) with hours from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.
The GPO also is issuing a commemorative book with the exhibit: Keeping America Informed: The U.S. Government Printing Office:150 Years of Service to the Nation. It’s a history of the range of documents the Printing Office has used since its birth, and the agency’s role as a source of information by and for government.