Covers of some editions of Origins (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)
By David Gibson
Origins, the CNS documentary service, recently wrapped up the last edition of its 45th volume, so we thought we’d share a bit of its history, compiled by David Gibson, the founding editor of Origins.
A basic hope for Origins from the outset was that it could get important texts to subscribers quickly at a time when, typically, it took months to get a new document of major importance like an encyclical into people’s hands.
In this, I think it is safe to say that Origins exceeded expectations and surprised many. Today it must sound astonishing to many to hear how long it took just a few decades ago to gain access to these kinds of materials.
It really is difficult in talking about the history of Origins to recall how different things were in the early 1970s. One thing for certain, however, was that there was a huge interest in those years after the Second Vatican Council in pastoral ministries of all kinds, with speeches being given and pastoral letters being published continually on parish and diocesan ministries, and ways to make them more effective.
This was a boon to Origins. We never lacked for materials to publish that we were certain our subscribers would want to see because they wanted to put them to good use. I think, too, that in the early history of Origins many really welcomed the opportunity to see full texts of current speeches, pastoral letters and policy texts for themselves and to be able to view what today we might call the “sound bites” in their fuller context.
Origins started in what in hindsight looks like a completely different era of publishing. Its pages were typed on, yes, typewriters. Within a year or so we began to input texts for Origins onto a “computerized” typewriter of some kind. Naturally, we needed typists for this, and we editors did a lot of typing ourselves. But we usually were aided by a student or two from Catholic University who wanted part-time work.
In those days, too, we employed a graphics technician to do the corrections; if there was a typo, a corrected line was pasted in. It was all amazingly hard work, and we worked amazingly long hours at that time.
Covers of some editions of Origins, along with binders for entire volumes (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)
In Origins’ first year, double-sided individual pages (Read More)