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The Beginning

Gibbs M. Smith always wanted to be a history professor. While in pursuit of a master’s degree, however, he wrote a dissertation on Joe Hill, the American labor martyr, proletarian folk hero, and songwriter, that profoundly changed his life. After the book was published and made into a movie, Gibbs began entertaining the idea of starting a publishing company. In 1969, Gibbs and his wife, Catherine, established the company known today as Gibbs Smith. With $12,000, the company published four initial books, which would be used as supplementary texts in college history classes. The first few years were tough as Gibbs and Cathy ran the company out of their studio apartment in Santa Barbara.

The Barn

In 1973, the company relocated to Utah, where the Smiths poured their profits back into the business and lived on savings. They spent that first summer converting an old barn (built in 1916) on the family farm into offices. It was a race against time, as the barn had no roof and winter was rapidly approaching. During that summer they managed to publish their first state history textbook,Utah’s Heritage. This proved to be a very wise decision, as this and other state history textbooks provided financial stability during the early years.

Gibbs will never forget sharing the barn with cows those first few years. "You could hear them mooing through the walls," he says with a smile. "People could hear them over the phone, too." When he would explain the ruckus, the response on the other end of the line was always the same: "You do what…from where?"


Today, Gibbs maintains his offices at the barn, but the Education Company works out of a 20,000 square foot building just a mile down the road. The company employs more than 80 full time employees and publishes Social Studies textbook programs for 26 states. With a goal to “Leave No State Behind,” Gibbs Smith Education creates new programs for three or four new states each year while continuously updating and revising those published in previous years.

Award-Winning Social Studies Crafted to Your State Standards

True to the eclectic style and sensibility of the company (and unlike behemoth educational publishers with household names), Gibbs Smith Education never takes a cookie cutter approach to publishing instructional materials. No two states have the same story, nor do they have the same teaching standards, so no two Gibbs Smith programs are alike. Every program begins with an outline crafted from the latest state-specific standards and curriculum requirements. Add Pulitzer Prize-nominated authors, award-winning images and design, meticulous attention to grade level-appropriate content and readability, and research-based best practice teaching methods, and you have the finest Social Studies programs available today.

At Gibbs Smith, we rarely receive complaints, but we have heard that educators have a hard time prying our books from their students’ hands. As the Association of Educational Publishers said about its 2005 Golden Lamp Award Winner, Massachusetts, Our Home,

"In an age where kids are watching TV while surfing the internet with their iPod in one ear and their cell phone pressed against the other, one is led to wonder what it takes to get a student to pick up a book. How about a visually stunning layout? How about content that sets new textual information standards for textbooks? How about activities that get students to think about what they've read outside of the classroom?"

"This year's Golden Lamp winner for Books impressed judges so much that several asked to take it home with them. One went so far as to say that if schools had more textbooks like this one, the achievement gap would practically be a thing of the past. If you're looking for a Social Studies book that can hold the interest of even the most high-tech student, look no further."

So, welcome to Gibbs Smith Education. We love sharing the story of our home and feel privileged to publish the story of yours.

2005  Winner, AEP Golden Lamp Award Massachusetts, Our Home
2005  Winner, TAA Texty Award The Nebraska Adventure
2006  Finalist, AEP Beacon Award Missouri Our Home
2007  Finalist, AEP Beacon Award The Louisiana Journey
2008  Winner, AEP Beacon Award North Carolina Journeys
2008  Finalist, AEP Golden Lamp Award Tennessee Through Time
2008  Nominee, TLA 2009 History Book of the Year Tennessee