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196 pages • 58 images • full color • 2021 • 9 x 6 in.
softcover • ISBN 9781953421074 • 2021 • $25.00
Reams in the Desert is the first book to explore the complete story behind the West’s pioneer attempt at paper production. The unlikely site was a desert valley in northern Utah. Paper had been made commercially in the United States for well over a century by the time that the first paper made west of the Mississippi River emerged from the vat. Complicated by isolation, the story of Utah’s small and short-lived paper industry stands as one of the few success stories of Latter-day Saint-sponsored “home manufacture.” Even so, Utah’s paper “industry” became a casualty of economies of scale that characterize the industrial age. Commitment and make-do provided a basis, but available invest-ment, limited production capacity, and small markets imposed limits on what could be sustained. Drawing on primary sources and a deep study of the product itself, Dr. Saunders explores the personalities, sacrifices, and decisions driving Utah’s four-decade experiment with paper production.
The appendix by paper historian Cathleen A. Baker provides a description of the pulping technologies, as well as hand and machine papermaking methods and equipment in use in the Utah mills.