Created by Congress in June 1860, the U.S. Government Publishing Office (formerly the U.S. Government Printing Office) began operation with 350 employees on March 4, 1861. Since opening, GPO has occupied the corner of North Capitol and H Streets, printing and disseminating U.S. Government documents.

GPO History

GPO During the Civil War

150th Anniversary History Exhibit

For most of its history, GPO was the largest printing operation in the world, and has been at the forefront of technological change. Our history program documents over 150 years of Keeping America Informed through publications, exhibits, public programs, and research. From its inception, GPO has continually adopted the most efficient and cost-effective production methods of delivering authentic and secure government documents and products to the American public.

Known for most of its history as the Government Printing Office, on December 17, 2014 we were redesignated the Government Publishing Office, in recognition of our transformation from a print-only operation to an integrated publishing organization. In testimony before the Committee on House Administration in December 2014, Director Davita Vance-Cooks, the first African American and woman to hold this position said, “It’s time for our name to catch up with who we are and what we do. It’s time for a new name for the digital age.” 

In 2017, the American Printing History Association honored GPO with its Institutional Award, recognizing a “distinguished contribution to study, recording, preservation or dissemination of printing history.” The award citation honors GPO’s “services in advancing the understanding of the history of printing and its allied arts.”


Published Histories


Keeping America Informed: The U.S. Government Printing Office 1861–2011: 150 Years of Service to the Nation, is our permanent exhibit that features information on GPO's dissemination activities and work with digital technology. Exhibit galleries—adjacent to the GPO Visitor Center, near the main entrance at 732 North Capitol Street NW—are open to the public Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Special tours and night openings are scheduled occasionally.

Special Exhibits

Online Photo Gallery

GPO's historic photo collection consists of images and drawings of GPO dating to 1861, photographs of printing presses, equipment, employees, and now-historic documents in addition to portraits of past public printers from 1861 to 2012.