The Evolution of the Written Word

Samuel J. Armstrong. Treasure Room, Doheny memorial Library, USC. Details.


The murals on the south wall depict the antiquity group: 

• prehistoric man (picture writing)

• Chaldean scribes (cuneiform writing on clay tablets)

• writing in Egypt (invention of papyrus, carving, and hieroglyphics)

• Phoenician development of the alphabet

• Graeco-Roman use of the codex and the reed pen (the calamus).


The mural on the west wall shows the contribution to writing and printing by the Orient: 

• left group - invention of paper in China by Ts'ai Lun

• center group - Empress Shotoku and the Japanese art of block printing

• right group - the first printed book in China by Wang Chieh, and the invention of movable type by Pi Sheng.


The north wall depicts the European group:

• unification of script under Charlemagne

• Gutenberg's invention of typography

• William Caxton at his press and Aldus Manutius working on a Greek classical work.


The American group graces the east wall: 

• on the left is Stephen Daye, first printer in the Colonies

• in the center is the first American magazine being published by Benjamin Franklin

• to the right are Charles Thurber, inventor of the typewriter, and Ottmar Merganthaler, inventor of the linotype.


The mural details below are not in any particular order. They were photographed in April 2016, during the exhibition titled True Crime. One of the images below also shows themarble bust

of Edward Doheny, Jr (by Joseph Mario Korbel) in its spatial context:




To Doheny Memorial Library