The steel bible: A case study of 20th century technical communication

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The "steel bible" emerged in 1919 and went through 11 editions in 80 years. In its evolution we can see the shift from individual to group authorship, an increasing use of visual elements, and a physical change from a small, hand-held volume to a weighty desktop reference. In a textual analysis, we can see that it was essentially static, changing only by additions and deletions, as the industry evolved. The eventual closing of hundreds of plants and the migration of the industry to other countries can be seen in the change of publisher, the sudden absence of photography, and the international references. Originally, the steel bible came from the factory floor and the words of the plant managers, but by the 1990s, it was a highly-abstracted representation of knowledge. In the steel bible, we can see the history of the industry and the maturing of technical communication in the 20th century.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages23
Specialist publicationJournal of Technical Writing and Communication
StatePublished - Aug 1 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Communication


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