Research Output

Scotland’s regional print economy in the nineteenth century

  Printing has been one of Scotland's most significant industries since it was introduced over 500 years ago but remained for much of the period, a local industry. The Scottish publishing and printing industries in the nineteenth century left many documentary traces, but most research has concentrated on large urban centres such as Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen, with regional centres of print production all but ignored. In the nineteenth century, these local print economies served the business, administrative, political and leisure needs of an increasingly urbanised Scotland.

My research is focused on the operation of the support structures and networks which developed among operative printers in Scotland's regional print centres from around 1830 to the end of the nineteenth century. As a case study I have selected the Royal Burgh of Dumfries, the most important market town in south-west Scotland, which was also a stop on the route between central Scotland and the industrial centres of Lancashire, and further south to London. A local printing industry developed during the eighteenth century, and by 1830 Dumfries was the home of a range of businesses in the printing and allied trades. The examination of the local print economy investigates the businesses and organisations engaged in print production and distribution in the local area, the technologies which were in use, and the material record of the town. The individual 'print trade lives' are considered in some detail, looking at the range and variety of career patterns in the industry. The options for a larger study of print networks based on trade records are also considered.

Sources for the study include local and regional trade society records, business records, trade journals and other publications, and contemporary (mainly local) newspapers. It also draws on technological manuals and other secondary material in Edinburgh Napier University's Edward Clark Collection.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    28 June 2018

  • Publication Status:


  • Library of Congress:

    Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    686 Printing & related activities

  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Williams, H. S. Scotland’s regional print economy in the nineteenth century. (Thesis). Edinburgh Napier University. Retrieved from



Scotland, printing, publishing, Dumfries

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