Upon discovering the establishment of the Providence Typographical Union (#33) in 1857, the Boston Typographical Union proclaimed: “‘Little Rhody’ is awake!” Unions had become a vital part of the lives of typographers (and craftspeople in general) and the establishment of the Providence Local of the larger International Typographical Union was lauded by its neighbor.
This certificate of membership, written out to T. E. Curran in 1888, was one of many given by the Providence Typographical Union. The purpose of the Union was both social and professional. In addition to gathering printers to talk about their work, the Union set standards for typographical work, including hourly wages and length of work days. Members in the Union typeset for the Telegram, The Phenix, the Dispatch and the Journal.
A very thorough history of the Providence Typographical Union and the profession of printing in Providence at large, Printers and Printing in Providence, 1762-1907 is available in PPL’s Rhode Island Collection.