Stephen Day (printer)

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Stephen Day (c. 1610-1668) was the first working printer in the American colonies. He operated a press associated with Harvard College from 1639 until 1649.


Stephen Day was born in London sometime around 1610.[1] The fledgling Harvard College was presented with a set of lead type by one of its patrons and others contributed funds for the purchase of a printing press.[1] In 1638 Day was hired in London by this patron, the Rev. Jesse Glover, to relocate to Cambridge, Massachusetts, to take over the new printing house established there.[1]

While Glover died during the return voyage to the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Day arrived safely and began work in January 1639.[1] Glover began his career with the publication of a pamphlet called The Freeman's Oath, before producing an almanac.[1] He followed this with the first book published in the American colonies, The Psalms in Meter (also known as The Bay Psalm Book)—a 300 page work.[1]

Historian Benson J. Lossing characterized Day as "an unskilful printer," but noted that as the first printer in the colonies of the New World he was nevertheless much esteemed and granted 300 acres of land in 1641.[1] Day continued at his task until 1649, when he passed the printing business along to a young man named Samuel Greene, who has been called by some the first American printer.[1]

Stephen Day died in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on December 22, 1668, at the age of about 58.[1]


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