Kingsport Press Collection
c.1922-1993 and undated
KC Manuscript Collection 204

Archives of the City of Kingsport
400 Broad Street
Kingsport, Tennessee 37660

Title: Kingsport Press Collection, c.1922-1993 and undated

Collection Number: Kingsport Community Manuscript Collection (KCMC) 204

Physical Description: 21 boxes and 8 framed photographs

Creator: various

Repository: Archives of the City of Kingsport

Provenance: The Kingsport Press Collection was obtained for the Archives by George Hutchins from Dick Ryder in April 2007.  Dick Ryder was a Director of Human Resources at Quebecor (Kingsport Press).  Additions to the collection were made in September 2010.

Access/Restrictions: There are no restrictions on use of this collection for research purposes. The researcher assumes full responsibility for observing all copyright, property, and libel laws as they apply.

Processed by: Kate Lukach, archival assistant, did the initial processing in May-June 2008, and created the finding aid in June 2008.

This collection should be cited as:

Kingsport Press Collection, c.1922-1993 and undated. KC Manuscript Collection 204, Archives of the City of Kingsport, Tennessee.

From the Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture (

“Kingsport Press was a powerful Tennessee presence in the publishing world for fifty years. The press was initially established in 1922 by Blair and Company, the New York bankers who financed the Clinchfield Railway and the Kingsport town site, with John B. Dennis as chairman of the board of Kingsport Press, Incorporated. As an integral component in fulfilling the interlocking concept of industry upon which Kingsport’s founders created the planned industrial community, Kingsport Press served as a catalyst for the development and expansion of related industries such as Mead Paper Company.

The company began in four unused concrete structures acquired from Grant Leather Company. The initial company president was Louis Adams, who secured the company’s first contract with the Woolworth chain for the mass production of a miniature clothbound series of the classics. When Colonel Elbridge Woodman Palmer (1886-1953), former president of the bindery of J. F. Tapley Company, was recruited as president in 1925, he systematically restructured Kingsport Press by remodeling the plant, retraining and increasing the labor force, and creating a sales department. Walter F. Smith, a subsequent company president, observed that Palmer understood that books needed to be made, but also needed to be marketed, and needed to reach their intended audience for the press to be successful. Palmer diversified the press’s fields of publications to include textbooks and encyclopedias, increased company floor space from a few hundred square feet to 12.5 acres, and added additional shifts, making the press operational twenty-four hours a day.

Palmer served as president for twenty-nine years and quickly became a nationally and internationally known industrialist and civic leader. Serving as president of the Tennessee Society of Crippled Children and Adults for eighteen years, he also was president, trustee, and treasurer of the national Society for Crippled Children and Adults. Locally, Palmer was founder of the Kingsport Building and Loan Association, an original incorporator of the Holston Valley Community Hospital, and a supporter of the Kingsport Public Library.

During World War II Palmer was deputy director of the War Production Board’s Printing and Publishing Division, which produced such materials as Bibles and equipment instruction manuals for U.S. troops. In 1943 he received the honorary rank of colonel for his work in the Adjutant General’s Department, where he served until 1945. After the war, he received the Legion of Merit for his distinguished service.

Chemist Walter F. Smith succeeded Palmer as president in 1953, and in his first year as president Smith developed new methods of cloth manufacture and gold stamping. Under his direction the company enjoyed continued growth, with 1961 marking a major expansion of the company’s facilities. Elected chairman of the board in 1961, Edward J. Triebe was the fourth company president. He guided the press through a period of rapid technological change as well as another expansion that included the construction and start-up of a second plant–a highly automated operation in Hawkins County twelve miles from Kingsport. Triebe also oversaw a major transition in printing emphasis from letterpress to offset lithography. Kingsport Press during his tenure had 2,500 employees.

One of the nation’s longest strikes occurred at Kingsport Press from March 11, 1963, continuing into the spring of 1967. National union officials and federal labor mediators were unable to resolve the situation, and as negotiations broke down, picket lines went up, accompanied by vandalism and violence. In 1964 over five thousand people applied for press jobs, and by April 28, 1967, both new and returning company employees rejected the unions.

In 1969 Kingsport Press merged with Arcata National Corporation, becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of the graphics, communication, and information services company. When Triebe was elected chairman of the board of Kingsport Press in 1969, G. Robert Evans left U.S. Gypsum to become the fifth company president. Two years after the merger of Kingsport Press and Arcata National, Evans was selected to direct the newly created Arcata Graphic Services Group. In 1971 Hugh F. Swaney came to Kingsport from the Mexican operations of U.S. Gypsum to serve as the press’s president.

Today, Quebecor World, a company that began in Montreal, Canada, in 1954, owns the former Kingsport Press, having acquired it when it purchased Arcata Graphics in the 1990s. In 1999 Quebecor Printing merged with World Color Press, creating Quebecor World. It ranks as one of the largest bookmaking companies in the world. The company’s customers include the leading international publishers, and it produces all types of hardbound and softcover books. Products of this graphic communications industry include elementary, high school, and college textbooks and workbooks; reference sets; book club selections; Bibles and hymnals; blank books and specialty binders; juvenile books; university press books; dictionaries; and school yearbook covers.

Martha Avaleen Egan, Kingsport Public Library and Archives/ King College”

Since the publication of this article, Quebecor World has closed and the land has been donated to the city of Kingsport.

The Kingsport Press Collection contains materials created by and pertaining to the Kingsport Press.  There is an extensive collection of photographs, as well as newsletters, memorabilia, and other documents pertaining to the history of the Kingsport Press.  The collection is divided into four series: subject files, books, photographs and negatives, and framed photographs.


  • Kingsport Press
  • Palmer, Colonel E. W.

Series I, Subject Files, 1922-1993 and undated, box 1-2.
This series contains newsletters and other documents pertaining to the Kingsport Press.  The newsletters and arranged chronologically and the remaining documents are arranged alphabetically.

Series II, Books, c.1920s-1940, box 3-4.
This series contains memorabilia in book form.  The series is arranged by size.

Series III, Photographs and Negatives, undated, box 5-21.
This series contains photographs, negatives, and slides.  The photographs and negatives are arranged by size and alphabetically by name or subject.

Series IV, Framed Photographs, undated, frame 1-8.
This series contains framed photographs.  The photographs are displayed on walls throughout the archives.
Series I, Subject Files, 1922-1993 and undated, box 1-2.
Box 1
1. Press Piper, October 1934 – December 1938
2. Press Piper, January 1939 – December 1942
3. Press Piper, January 1943 – December 1947
4. Press Piper, January 1948 – December 1951
5. Press Piper, January 1952 – December 1955
6. Press Piper, January 1956 – December 1959
7. News Piper, January 1967 – December 1968
8. News Piper, January 1969 – December 1970
9. News Piper, 1971
10. News Piper, 1975
11. News Piper, 1976
12. News Piper, January – September 1978
13. News Piper, 1979
14. News Piper, 1980

Box 2
1. News Piper, 1981
2. News Piper, 1982
3. News Piper, 1983
4. News Piper, 1984
5. News Piper, 1985
6. News Piper, 10 January 1986 – 15 May 1986
7. Impressions, February 1975 – November 1976
8. News and Views, August 1979 – August 1983
9. KP Exchange and The Leader, February 1984 – April 1986
10. Our Business Directions, June 1986 – December 1989
11. Arcata Graphics News, May 1987- 1992
12. Arcata News and Views, Fall 1989 – February 1993
13. Annual Reports, 1958, 1961, 1963, 1965, 1966, 1967, and 1968
14. Annual Reports, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, and 1979
15. Arcata Book Group Advertisements, undated
16. Bookbuilders West Book Show, 1979
17. Building Plans, 1938 and 1945
18. Close up: Kingsport Press, 1971
19. Division Name Change Program, October 7, 1985
20. Employee Guide, 1985
21. Information about materials used in binding a book, undated
22. J. W. Clement Company, San Jose Division, c.1969
23. Kingsport Press – Half a Century of Craftsmanship, January 1973
24. “Kingsport is to Have Huge Printing Plant,” Kingsport Times, October 24, 1922
25. Kingsport Press Inc. – A leader in the manufacture of books and printed products, c.1968
26. List of employees who died in World War II, undated
27. Maps of Kingsport, undated
28. Newsletters, 1946, 1948, 1965, 1977, and 1988
29. Newspaper articles, 1945-1983 and undated
30. Second Annual Awards Banquet Program, October 18, 1975
31. Sixth Annual Awards Banquet Program, November 3, 1979
32. A Systems Approach to Book Manufacturing, c.1970s
33. Third Annual Awards Banquet Program, January 7, 1961
34. A Tour of Kingsport Press, undated

Series II, Books, c.1920s-1940, box 3-4.
Box 3
1. guest register, 1924-1940
2. photo album, c.1920s

Box 4
1. Book Manufacturing Illustrated, 1939

Series III, Photographs and Negatives, undated, box 5-21.
Box 5
1. 8×10 photographs

Box 6
1. 8×10 photographs

Box 7
1. 8×10 photographs

Box 8
1. 8×10 photographs

Box 9
1. 5×7 photographs

Box 10
1. 5×7 photographs

Box 11
1. 4×6 photographs

Box 12
1. 2×3 photographs
2. negatives
3. slides

Box 13
1. 4×6 negatives

Box 14
1. miscellaneous photos and negatives

Box 15
1. Slides

Box 16
1. Slides

Box 17
1. Press Piper, January 31, 1964
2. Miscellaneous photographs
3. Photo Album

Box 18
1. Slides

Box 19
1. Slides

Box 20
1. Slides

Box 21
1. Slides

Series IV, Framed Photographs, undated, frame 1-8.
Frame 1
Frame 2
Frame 3
Frame 4
Frame 5
Frame 6
Frame 7
Frame 8

Kingsport Press Bowling Team

Image of the Kingsport Press Bowling Team.

Kingsport Press Basketball Team

Image of the Kingsport Press Basketball Team.

Kingsport Press

Image of a nurse from the Kingsport Press.

Kingsport Press

Image from the Kingsport Press.

Kingsport Press

Image from the Kingsport Press.

Kingsport Press

Image from the Kingsport Press.

Kingsport Press

Image from the Kingsport Press.

Kingsport Press

Image from the Kingsport Press.

Kingsport Press

Image from the Kingsport Press.

Kingsport Press

Image from the Kingsport Press.