The history of the book in Mexico began in pre-Hispanic times: indigenous people drew signs in hide and paper to convey knowledge. Spanish friars benefitted from such practice for the religious texts they wrote, while indigenous scribes imprinted their own culture in the very same texts. The printing press arrived to Mexico in 1539. At first, government and church officials used it for religious and administrative books. Printers also imported books from Europe. A select group of printers formed printing dynasties that dominated the trade throughout the viceroyalty. Women played a key role in the industry, and widows often took over their husband’s companies. In 1551, the University of Mexico was founded; the resulting scholarly community began an increasing demand for books. Over the next centuries, Mexico City became an economic and cultural centre, and printers imported and produced secular books for the education and entertainment of the intellectual community. Some of these books created and reflected the development of a national identity. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, cheaper equipment and resources resulted in a proliferation of printing presses. Neighbourhood printing presses produced political pamphlets and broadsides, which played a major role in the movements and eventually the war for Mexican independence.