J. Arthur Graham &
The New Century
Master Printer
Brigham Young High School,
Class of 1918

J. Arthur Graham, BYH Class of 1918
J. Arthur Graham, BYH Class of 1918
Arthur Graham, Master Printer
Arthur Graham, Master Printer

~ By Kent Graham Jarvis, BYH Class of 1960

People watchers in Provo, Utah, read the following announcement in the Utah County Democrat (later to become the Daily Herald), on December 28, 1898:
“Miss Annie Strong and John C. Graham Jr. united [on December 27th] at the home of the bride's mother. The ceremony united, in one bond, two of Provo’s most popular young society people. The bride was lovely, gowned in white china silk, daintily trimmed in lace and satin ribbons, and wearing as an only ornament, a beautiful spray of bride’s roses. White kid gloves and slippers completed the outfit. The groom wore the regulation black dress suit.”
John and Annie Graham launched a business which they called New Century Printing Company. The name came from the fact that the business was launched in 1900. Within a few years they had two children: John Arthur Graham and Marian Graham.

J. Arthur Graham (Arthur or "Art" to his friends), was born in 1899 and attended Brigham Young High School in Provo during his secondary school years. He graduated from the BYH Business Department on May 27, 1918.

J. Arthur Graham, BYH Class of 1918
J. Arthur Graham, circa 1918

Marian Graham Jarvis, mother of Kent Graham Jarvis
Marian Graham, circa 1918

Arthur entered military service right after graduation, and became a veteran of the first World War. While in the armed services he played the bugle, waking the troops with Reveille, signaling vital actions during the day, then sending them to bed in the evenings with Taps.

In those times the bugle was essential to all military communication. The primary bugler was assigned to the headquarters staff, and was kept close to the commander at the front. All soldiers were quick to learn the calls of the bugle, and on a routine day Arthur made at least four, and as many as ten, bugle calls.

After his military service ended, Arthur decided to learn the art of printing and typesetting. He certainly had printing ink in his veins, because his grandfather and father were printers, along with several other members of his family.

Arthur traveled around the country to learn the latest printing techniques. In 1923 he was a student at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.

Arthur wrote an article titled “What is a Steel Plant Like?” His article was published in Provo's Daily Herald on March 16, 1923. It was read with great interest because he wrote it to inform the residents of Provo and Orem about the steel making process, in advance of the new Geneva Steel Plant coming to the area.

Arthur’s grandfather, John C. Graham, Sr., had written and printed sections of the Millennial Star newspaper of the LDS Church while in England. When he came to Utah he became a popular theater actor in Salt Lake City and Provo. But John Sr. was best known as the publisher of four newspapers in early Utah.

For about three decades, a portrait of John C. Graham, Sr. was displayed in the entry of the Print Shop Café at Arrow Press Square in Salt Lake City, until the Café closed its doors in the 1980s. His biography can be found in the volume, 100 Years of Printing in Utah published by BYU in 1970.

Arthur’s aunt, Eliza Graham, was the first lady to be admitted to the Typesetters Union. She worked as a typesetter at Arrow Press in Salt Lake City in the 1920s.

The New Century Printing Company in Provo was owned and operated by John C. Graham Jr., the father of Arthur and Marian, and the groom mentioned in the wedding story quoted earlier. New Century was a well respected printing shop. It consistently provided fine quality printing for the next 92 years.

Graham Family in New Century Printing Company

Interior of Provo's New Century Printing Company in about 1941. Three of the men in the photo, left to right, are James K. Jarvis, father John C. Graham, Jr., and near right, son, J. Arthur Graham. The fourth man, far right, is an unidentified employee.

The large roller in the front left is a proof press. It was used to roll paper onto inked type, to produce a proof, to check for spelling and other corrections before a job is printed. The machine with a keyboard is a Linotype Machine. The machine on the far right is a paper cutter, with a motor and belt. It could trim up to 500 sheets at a time. The table in the back center is the make-up table, where type is assembled into lines and paragraphs, prior to proofing and printing. (Touch photo with cursor, click for enlargement.)

New Century was a "job printing" shop. It produced letterheads, envelopes, wedding invitations, flyers, boxing cards, statements, all of the primary and general election ballots for Utah County, and scores of other items. In addition, it published a number of books, including Marinus J. Jensen's History of Provo, Utah, 1924.

Arthur, the BYH graduate, bugler, World War veteran, and newly trained printer, returned to Provo and began to work with his father at the New Century Printing Company.

Arthur’s younger sister, Marian Graham, attended Provo schools, including Provo High. She graduated from BYU in 1927 with an emphasis in English. She married James Keith Jarvis, also a printer, on January 9, 1941, and they had one son, Kent Graham Jarvis (later BYH Class of 1960).

The printing shop consisted of a front office, behind that was the typesetting area, and behind that were the printing presses. Near the back were the bindery and the paper storage areas.

Marian answered the phone, took the printing orders, made the job tickets, and took them back to be typeset and printed. She proofread every job to be sure it was right, before the printing run was made. She was a very busy lady.

In the 1930s and 1940s, the printing shop operated ten printing presses, and had twelve employees, including four pressmen.

Prior to 1963, all printing was done on letterpresses. That is, type was either set by hand, one letter at a time, or cast in hot lead on a Linotype machine. Marian would set hand type for delicate jobs like wedding invitations, etc. For most jobs, however, Arthur would set type on the Linotype machine.

Arthur and Marian experienced a shock in May of 1942, just a few months after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Their father, John C. Graham Jr. was sitting in a chair in the office of his printing shop, when his chair suddenly tipped backward. John Jr. struck his head on the top of a steam radiator. The resulting wound developed an infection, and he passed away a few days later.

After the sudden death of their father, Arthur and Marian formed a legal partnership, and took over operation of the highly successful printing shop.

New NCPC building came in mid-1940s.

Printing operations continued. Major repeating customers included Provo City, Utah County, Brigham Young High School, Brigham Young University, Central Bank, Walker Bank, W.W. Clyde & Sons, and most of the smaller business in the Provo and Orem areas. There was always a line of customers in the office, and consistently a two-week backlog of jobs to print. Customer loyalty was unwavering.

The marriage of Marian and James Jarvis ended in divorce in January 1946. Kent stayed with his mother, and enrolled at Brigham Young High School, following in the footsteps of his Uncle Arthur.

The printing shop prospered through the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. However, in the 1960s several small "Quick Printing" shops appeared. They used offset printing, which could produce quality printing faster and easier than letterpress printing. Offset printers began to take business away from the New Century Printing Company.

Marian’s son, Kent, graduated from B.Y. High School in 1960, married, and found a job repairing radio and television sets at Steve’s Trading Post in Provo. Steve closed the store about 1965. Needing a way to support his family, Kent began to work at his family's New Century Printing Company.

Arthur was skeptical that there was enough work for an additional printer, especially at a time where business was being lost to the "Quick Printing" shops.

Kent, however, figured out how to solve the dilemma. He knew from experience that he could talk his Mom, Marian, into almost anything, and that in turn, Marian could talk her brother, Arthur, into almost anything.

Kent proposed that the shop purchase two new offset printing presses and a process camera, so that the shop could do offset printing. Soon Marian found the right time to discuss the proposition with Arthur. Over the noise from the running letterpresses, Kent overheard their rather loud discussion in the office. Soon Arthur saw the advantages of offset printing.

However, he warned Kent, “If this doesn’t work out, you get to work free for the next five years to pay for the new equipment.”

Fortunately the risk paid off. With the new presses, Kent had plenty of work, and the job provided his young family with a modest living while he studied for his college degrees. The shop prospered on the deal because it could now accept much more work, and continue to produce high-quality printing.

Over the decades, the New Century Printing Company received numerous Utah State blue ribbon awards for outstanding printing quality. Marian was honored in 1975 when she was selected as the Business and Professional Women's Club (BPW) Woman of the Year.

In July 1975, Kent accepted an electrical engineering position in Salt Lake City, and finally left his job in the old family printing shop. At about the same time, Harry Hutchinson, a long-time pressman at the shop, passed away. He had been a dependable and highly skilled press operator upholding the finest traditions of printing.

Arthur and Marian continued to run the printing shop at a reduced level until 1990. Arthur was then 91 years old and Marian was 85 years old. Neither of them had missed a whole day of work in all their years with New Century Printing.

One afternoon in September 1990, Kent received a phone call from his Uncle Arthur, saying Marian had not come to work that day, and that he had been unable to reach her by phone. Soon they learned that Marian, capable of working hard the day before, had died in her sleep.

With Marian gone, Arthur would "go to work" at the print shop each day. He would sit in the office or pound away at his Linotype machine all day. Customers were told that the shop was closed, but he still did a little printing. Oh, how he missed Marian! Several years later, Arthur also passed away, on October 1, 1992. He had never married.

The following day, on October 2, 1992, Kent once again drove through the alley to the back door of the New Century Printing Company. He used a key he had saved all those years, to unlock and open the back door that he had gone through so many times. Inside the big old printing shop it was completely dark and silent.

Kent turned the lights on, one by one. Everything was still there. All of the paper supplies, all of the type, all of the printing presses, including the Linotype machine, the offset presses, and the process camera he had carefully used for years.

Arthur’s rain coat and hat were hanging next to the Linotype machine, and his mother's apron was still hanging by the office door. The printing machinery was finally silent for the first time in 92 years. Kent felt very sad and alone standing there in that familiar place where he had worked with his family for many years.

It was the end of a remarkable printing era in Utah County. The long line of Graham family printers had finally come to an end.

But even today, Kent can close his eyes and in his mind see Harry running the printing presses, Arthur sitting at the Linotype machine setting type, his Mom talking to customers, answering the phone, and setting type for wedding announcements.

Kent's beautiful young wife, Jayanne, is perforating ballots for the upcoming presidential election, while their new baby son, Ryan, is lying next to the perforator in a cardboard box, his wide eyes watching it all happen.

Kent can still smell the pungent odor of printing inks and solvents. He can see the printed sheets neatly stacking on the AB Dick 360 offset press he is running. He can see all of the printing jobs lined up, ready to be printed in precise order.

The historic New Century Printing Company lives on. Not in real life, of course, but in the memories of Graham and Strong family descendents, and in the memories of many long-time residents of Provo, Utah.

Both the home on East Center Street where Arthur and Marian grew up, and the New Century Printing Shop, are now on the Provo City register of historic buildings.

The original New Century Printing Company was located about one block east of its second location at 48 West 100 North. This newer place of business was built in the mid-1940s. The building, located about 300 feet from the Court House, was sold in 2005 to several attorneys. [Footnote: What Happened to the New Century Printing Company? ]

John C. Graham Historic Home 1995 - Provo, Utah
John C. Graham Home, 1995

The home is designated The John C. Graham Historic Home. It is large and stately. It has been restored, and is very beautiful. Pictures do not do it justice. It was in its most beautiful form in the 1950s, when Kent stayed there each day after school, with Grandma, while his mother Marian and Uncle Arthur were at work.

The home was surrounded by lots of flowers and green hedges. Kent particularly enjoyed the garage in the back of the lot, which contained a beautiful dark-blue 1941 Ford 2-door coupe. The Graham family always sat on the front porch to watch the Provo Fourth of July parade come down Center Street. Most spectators sat on the lawns to watch the parade, but not Kent. He celebrated Independence Day by running around the lawn in his Hop-A-Long Cassidy cowboy outfit, shooting his noisy cap guns into the summer air.

Kent Graham Jarvis Family

Kent Graham Jarvis, BYH Class of 1960, sitting for a portrait with his family: Ryan, left rear; Jayanne Christsensen Jarvis, standing center; Mark, right rear; and Gregory; right front, circa 1981.

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