The Newspaper and Printing Museum preserves the equipment and methods of letterpress and linotype printing. The museum also holds an extensive collection of early newspapers from throughout Whitman County and has rotating exhibitions featuring artifacts and photographs from the region. While all of the equipment used by early-day printers is still operational, it is obsolete or unsuited to modern printing practices. This equipment and the extensive collection of county newspapers provide a unique opportunity for research in letter-press printing technology and in local history.
Roy M. Chatters was a retired nuclear engineer from Washington State University. There was a printing background in his family however, and when he retired, he began a quest to collect antique printing equipment with the dream of setting up a working museum. Much of this equipment would simply have ended up in the scrap metal heap, as printers began turning to safer, more efficient methods of printing. Dr. Chatters loved tinkering with his machines, and sharing them with others.
Through the years, he also acquired a vast collection of newspapers from around the country, and especially Whitman County. There is a near-complete collection of Whitman County newspapers here in the museum, covering Endicott, LaCrosse, Garfield, Tekoa, Rosalia, St. John and of course, Palouse, dating back to the 1880s. These papers are available for research, with donations requested for this service. Colfax and Pullman newspapers maintain their own archives.
The museum was open for 20 years, until the flood of 1996 caused extensive damage to the wooden floor, and it was closed for safety reasons. We are proud to present it to you once again, new and refurbished, with the same spirit of paying tribute to the printers and newspaper editors who worked so hard to bring the only news available to their readers. It’s appropriate that the Roy M. Chatters Newspaper and Printing Museum re-opened on Palouse Day, as it was Palouse Day 1976 when it was first dedicated to J. B. and Olga West, who donated the building for use as a museum.