“Graphic Design”: more on the terminology of a profession
Alex Jay, an old friend and author of the excellent Tenth Letter of the Alphabet blog, has sent me a detailed addendum to my post on the terminology of graphic design. “I don’t know if you searched Chronicling America [I did not] but it’s a good source for old newspapers,” he writes. Through it Alex found a reference to “graphic design” as early as 1842 in the New-York Daily Tribune where it refers speciﬁcally to engraving. Similar references appear in the Sunbury American in 1856, the New-York Tribune in 1888 and The Wichita Daily Eagle in 1896.
Alex also followed up on the Google snippet about “graphic design” being used by the California Teachers Association as early as 1921. He rightly points out that Google Books often renames scanned periodicals to reflect later changes in name and that the California Teachers Association Journal was apparently The Sierra Educational News in 1921. In its June 1921 (vol. XVII, no. 6) issue, p. 337 there is a notice for the summer session of the California School of Arts and Crafts in Berkeley which includes “commercial design” among its subjects. This is a term that I did not research. A 1922 advertisement in The Western Journal of Education for the school’s summer session includes “Graphic Design and Lettering” as one of the “Short Courses in the Arts and Crafts” (see below). Alex found various other advertisements for CSA&C in the same journal. One said that the school prepared “students for life work in Design, Advertising and Poster Art….”
Finally, Alex extracted this information from a Google snippet of the California Teachers Association Journal [The Sierra Educational News] August 1921 (vol. XVII, no. 8), p. 535: “The New Year’s card reproduced in color on the back cover page of this Issue is typical of the work done by students in the Graphic Design Class of the California School of Arts and Crafts, Berkeley.” And there is a related reference on p. 552.