Adapted from: A Century of Democratic Unionism,
the San Francisco Typographical Union Centennial book
celebrating the 100th birthday of San Francisco #21 and the
1972 International Typographical Union Convention, held in San Francisco.


California was the magnet that drew wanderers from all over the world, in search of gold and excitement. Miners, prospectors, shopkeepers, and adventurers of all descriptions diverged on the mining camps, but not without first stopping off at San Francisco for their supplies. Many stayed and never reached the gold placers. Those were the days of excitement and adventure. With the shortage of help -- newcomers headed off for the mines and their sure fortunes -- workers were quick to organize unions. It's no surprise that printers were among the first to arrive, and most of them were members of typographic societies. And printers led the labor movement.
When the news of gold in California reached the eastern part of the country, the floodgates opened. A flood of mankind of every sort and condition inundated San Francisco, once word got around that there was gold in those nearby hills. The near-barren sandhills of the sleepy little village on the Bay sprouted rows of tents, canvas houses, ramshackle frame build-ings. Hundreds of ships emptied their loads of gold-hungry passengers, then were abandoned themselves by equally hungry crews. The de-serted ships were converted into hotels, offices, warehouses, stores-one into a jail. Hundreds more were buried in the Bay, beneath tons of sand from the surrounding hills, obliterating the tiny cove and gravel beach where the first traders had come ashore only a few years before. Construction sounds played a raucous obligato to a bustling, brawling, jostling throng. Among them, the historian Bancroft counted editors, ministers, "the trader . . . the toiling farmer, whose mortgages loomed above the growing family, the brief less lawyer, the starv-ing student, the quack, the idler, the harlot, the gambler, the hen-pecked husband, the dis-graced, with many earnest, enterprising, honest men and devoted women." Among them, too, were union men. And, inevitably, printers.


printing history San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle in the 1870's. Gary Sampson was chairman.