Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

email signup Blog Video Facebook Twitter Instagram
Primary Source Education Modules > Gutenberg Bible > Books Before and After
The Invention  -  Books Before and After  -  Johann Gutenberg  -  Facts about the Book  -  Activities  -  Glossary  -  Teacher Resources


Books Before and After The Gutenberg Bible

For approximately 4,500 years before Gutenberg invented the printing press, books were produced by hand. They were written on surfaces of clay, papyrus, wax, and parchment. Law books, cookbooks, works of philosophy and science, great comedies and tragedies were all painstakingly copied and all too often lost through war and neglect. The invention of movable type and the printing of the Gutenberg Bible, however, completely revolutionized the accessibility of knowledge in the Western World.

The spread of Gutenberg's new technology was rapid, leading to an increase in the availability of books, the standardization of grammar and spelling in languages other than Latin, and the sharing of arts and technology. Through the examination of written materials dating before and contemporary with the Gutenberg Bible, and comparing them to printed sources from 50 to 100 years later, students will begin to learn about the historical and cultural context of the technology of writing and the importance of Johann Gutenberg's invention.

Early Writing
It all started with math

The World Beyond
Books near and far

Books Before Gutenberg
Seeking illumination

Printing Yesterday and Today
Fun facts and modern printing

Gutenberg's Legacy
The revolution takes off