A Valley News Publication
The sports section is assembled in the composing room. IMAGE: LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

The sports section is assembled in the composing room.

Take a step back in time to see how the New York Times was produced in 1942. This photo series, shot by photographer Marjory Collins on Sept. 9, 1942, and published on Mashable, is a captivating peek behind the curtain into how the daily miracle came together. Collins’ photographs detail every step of the process in exquisite black and white. You can almost hear the phones ringing, smell the cigars, feel the newsprint.

Some observations:

  • The paper’s copy is being composed using Linotype and pages are being cast via zinc plates, a method that is totally unheard of in today’s more modern presses, almost all of which rely on offset printing techniques. Pages still are cast as plates, but the process is almost entirely digitized. Even we at the Valley News got rid of our old plate-making system, which required an employee shoot a film negative of every page, about a year ago in favor of a system that automates the process.
  • I print letterpress, so I was fascinated by the images of the men hand-setting the metal type. Linotype — which is exactly what it sounds like, a line of type — likely helped to speed up the process from the days of printing with lead type, where every single letter had to be individually set by hand, but it still couldn’t have been a total time saver. I was amused to see I actually have, and use, some of the same tools that the men are using in the photographs.
  • Speaking of men, I know it was the ’40s, but it was striking to see zero women in the workplace. I figured we’d see at least one or two working as secretaries, but nope. It also was jarring to see the complete lack of diversity among the Times staffers.

See the photographs here.