RIT to Recognize Printing Pioneer Isaiah Thomas

University honoring American Antiquarian Society with Isaiah Thomas Award




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Isaiah Thomas

Isaiah Thomas was an American patriot who dedicated his life to printing and publishing, and the American Antiquarian Society has made its mission preserving his life’s work along with the accomplishments of other patriot printers.

The Isaiah Thomas Award in Publishing is coming full circle as Rochester Institute of Technology honors the American Antiquarian Society, a national research library of American history, literature and culture founded by Thomas, with the award during a reception on Sept. 20 at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Mass. The event “Celebrating the Life of a Patriot Printer: A Tribute to Isaiah Thomas” will also include a panel discussion.

“This year marks the 28th year of this award celebration and the 75th anniversary of the School of Print Media. These factors, combined with the bicentennial celebration of the American Antiquarian Society, made presenting the organization founded by Thomas with an award in his honor very fitting,” says Twyla Cummings, associate dean at RIT’s College of Imaging Arts and Sciences and the Paul and Louise Miller Distinguished Professor in the School of Print Media. “I feel that it is essential for our students to understand the rich history of the newspaper publishing industry and the importance of preserving it for future generations.”

The school will also pay homage to Thomas, who spent his life dedicated to publishing and printing, with a panel discussion titled “Preserving the History of News in a Digital Age.”

David Pankow, director of RIT Cary Graphics Art Press, will moderate the panel that includes Vincent Golden, curator of newspapers and periodicals at the American Antiquarian Society; Frank Romano, president of Museum of Printing and professor emeritus at RIT; Tracey Leger-Hornby, dean of library services at the Gordon Library at Worcester Polytechnic Institute; Bruce Gaultney, publisher of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette; and Alex Rogala, editor of RIT’s Reporter magazine.

The panel will discuss the history and future of print media as well as Thomas’ legacy.

Thomas was an American newspaper publisher and author and founder of the American Antiquarian Society. He performed the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence in Worcester, Mass., and reported the first account of the Battles of Lexington and Concord.

The Isaiah Thomas Award in Publishing recognizes outstanding contributions made to the publishing industry.

The American Antiquarian Society is an independent research library founded in 1812. The library’s collections document the life of America’s people from the colonial era through the Civil War and Reconstruction, including Thomas’ printing legacy.

RIT’s School of Print Media established the Isaiah Thomas Award in 1979 to honor leaders in the newspaper industry. The award is named in tribute to Thomas, an early leader of the American printing industry. In 1770, Thomas created The Massachusetts Spy at a print shop known as the “sedition factory” by the British colonial government. Additionally, in 1810, Thomas wrote The History of Printing in America, which was regarded as the basic source of information on early American printing and publishing.

The Paul and Louise Miller professorship is an endowed chair at RIT that was established in 1976 by the Trustees of the Gannett Foundation in honor of Paul and Louise Miller. Paul Miller rose to a position of international influence in both the Gannett Corp. and The Associated Press, becoming president of Gannett Corp. in 1957 and elected president of The Associated Press in 1963. One of the professorship’s goals is to bring greater recognition to the newspaper industry.

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Isaiah Thomas