Paper: Paging Through History

By Mark Kurlansky
Hosted by Caltech Archivist Peter Sachs Collopy

From the New York Times best-selling author of Cod and Salt, Paper is a definitive history of paper and the astonishing ways it has shaped today’s world.

Paper is one of the simplest and most essential pieces of human technology. For the past two millennia, the ability to produce it in ever more efficient ways has supported the proliferation of literacy, media, religion, education, commerce, and art; it has formed the foundation of civilizations, promoting revolutions and restoring stability. By tracing paper’s evolution from antiquity to the present, with an emphasis on the contributions made in Asia and the Middle East, Mark Kurlansky challenges common assumptions about technology’s influence, affirming that paper is here to stay. Paper will be the commodity history that guides us forward in the twenty-first century and illuminates our times.


About Our Host


Peter Sachs Collopy is a historian, archivist, and curator of science, technology, and media. As Caltech’s University Archivist, Peter leads a team that organizes and preserves the historical record of research at Caltech to facilitate understanding of the Institute’s role in the history of science and technology. He recently curated the Caltech Archives exhibit “The Mind’s Eye: Richard Feynman in Word and Image.” Peter also researches the history of the networks of people and institutions—from engineers to artists to psychotherapists—that emerged around the new technologies of portable video recording and video synthesis in the 1960s and early 1970s.