George L. Carter, a land purchasing entrepreneur, believed Kingsport, Tennessee could become a "model industrial city" if the Carolina, Clinchfield and Ohio Railway extended its line from Johnson City, Tennessee to Kingsport. Extension of the CC&O rail line from Johnson City north through Kingsport began in 1905 and was completed by 1915. Once the extension of the CC&O line had been completed, John B. Dennis, John Nolan, Col. James Blair, and Joseph Sears envisioned the construction of a book manufacturing plant in Kingsport that was capable of producing inexpensive books, publications that could be "purchased by anyone."
The planning and early construction of the Kingsport Press began in 1919 and was completed sometime during the early 1920s. The principle products of the Kingsport Press were textbooks, reference books, Bibles, religious books and juvenile-adult trade books. During the 1950s, the company became the largest complete book manufacturing firm in the world.
In 1933 three unions were established at the Kingsport Press to protect the rights of its employees; these were the International Printing Press Union, International Stereotypers and Electrotypers Union, and the International Brotherhood of Bookbinders Union. These unions went on strike March 11, 1963 to demand increased wages, a reduced work week, and improved vacation benefits from company management. However, after four years of unsuccessful deliberations between the company's arbitrators and its unions, the strike ended April 28, 1967 with a disbanding of the unions. At the present time the Kingsport Press is owned by Arcata Graphics.
The Kingsport Press Strike Collection contains correspondence, reports, pamphlets, photocopies of articles taken from commercial publications, newspaper clippings, speeches, cassette audiotapes, memorabilia, and broadsides documenting the events surrounding the strike between Kingsport Press and its unions between 1961 and 1967. The correspondence and speeches describe events leading up to the strike, chronicles union activities during the strike, and identifies the problems surrounding the unsuccessful resolution of the labor dispute. The reports document specific union issues that served as the progenitors for the strike. The pamphlets, newspaper clippings, and photocopies of articles define the general issues and describe the activities surrounding the Kingsport Press strike. The two 60-minute audio cassette tapes (dated April 27, 1982) contain an interview with Earl Derrick about the Kingsport Press strike.