Friday, August 23, 2013

Secretary becomes collector!

I once was a secretary.  
Perhaps I should say I've been many secretary, medical secretary, 
art studio/advertising agency secretary in the private sector.
I then worked in the public sector, state government human resources offices, and eventually a state psychiatric hospital. Suddenly my title changed, I became an administrative assistant. The term secretary became old-fashioned, seemingly around the same time typewriters and steno pads were ousted by 
Dictaphones and computers.

The secretary as a desk seems to have lived a much longer
  life, and it has a very interesting
more HERE.

This week I took a little time to change some 
of the bits displayed on the secretary's doors. 
When I purchased this antique piece from 
SuzAnna's Antiques several years ago 
it was already painted, all I did was make the 
padded bulletin boards for the doors, attached 
with Velcro they have become quite useful. 

The secretary lives in my guest room. Sometimes I sit 
here with my sleek silver laptop, often reminiscing about 
the old days tapping away on a bulky black typewriter.
I completed a two year advanced secretarial course at an 
English technical college, learning to type on a manual, 
and flipping the lined pages of the steno pad as I 
learned Pitman shorthand. 
Later, working my first job at a British insurance company, 
still used a behemoth manual.....then, 
moving to Washington, D.C., in my first job I learned 
to use what was the amazing IBM Selectric typewriter.
How times have changed......and where on earth have those 
fifty plus years gone.
What equipment did you learn to type on?
I just know some of you are young enough to have never 
actually used a typewriter!


  1. I love old secretaries (the wooden kind, but the human kind are fun, too). Like you, I learned to type, in high school, on a manual typewriter. Electrics were standard by the time I got my first job as receptionist/secretary in a bank. But when I moved to an insurance office and they had an IBM selectric, I thought I'd achieved the pinnacle of technology. HA! Didn't take long for computers to take over.

    Your use of the secretary is great - love the bits and pieces tucked into the doors.

  2. I learned to type in HS typing class on an electric typewriter. I tried taking shorthand in HS too, but really disliked it, so I dropped the course.

    I really love your old secretary.

  3. I too learned to type on an 'old fashioned' typewriter! Did you know that originally secretaries (human) were known as 'Typewriters'?

  4. I learned on a manual typewriter to the sound of the tick tock of the metronome in the background. I can remember my p's and q's being very faint and having to retype those. I have been many titles from secretary, PA, EA, Co-ordinator, but now I have the title of secretary again but in a whole different world, basically meaning management, co-ordinator and second guesser to my boss, the typing is virtually non-existent apart from emails! It's amazing how the title has been recycled along with those gorgeous old machines which are now becoming collectors items.

    Your secretary looks wonderful!

    Chel x

  5. We had the big black Underwood typewriters in high school - clunky they were, and hard on the fingers. I've read that there was a great clamor that went out - from men, that women would become hunch backed old hags with witch fingers, from typing on those old typewriters (yet it was men who hired the women to do the typing that they themselves could not do). We had one IBM Selectric in the classroom and we all got turns practicing on it - wow - what a difference - you'd hear a lot of laughing from that corner as each new person tried out the Selectric. But we were told that it was dream to think that offices would convert to such a strange machine as the Selectric - we would be old and grey before any changes ever came in typewriters - so we were to learn well how to use the Underwood.

    For my high school graduation I got a cute little turquoise portable typewriter and recently I saw on sold for 400.00 on ebay - go figure. I sure don't want to type on one again - even if it was easier than the big black Underwood.

    I love your secretary - so delightfully decorated.

  6. Oh my!! I learned to type on an Underwood manual and when I graduated to a Selectric it was hard. The thing got away from me until I got used to it. People I work with now marvel at the idea that I don't have to look at the keyboard to type. Then again, I can't text with my thumbs. Everything in it's own time.
    I love the little bulletin boards you made for the secretary. That feature makes it really special.

  7. Yes, in high school I learned to type on those big black upright typewriter that you had to pound on. Later when I worked managing a tour business office I talked the owner into buying an IBM Selectric - oh bliss. Love the padded doors on your Secretary. A few years I actually bought an old typewriter that comes out on occasion for art lettering. My mother convinced me I would need to do shorthand also, so took that in high school. I never was fast and really was glad when that had passed and no longer needed.

  8. Wow, all those terms you are throwing around here bring back memories for me too. We had the same profession and went through the same name changes, in my case it was Gregg Shorthand, and manual typewriters were just on the way out when I was learning how to type. Ah yes, the IBM Selectric, I can see it and hear it and feel it this very minute. Love, love, love computer keyboards and instant error correction of these days much better!!

  9. Love this story and your eclectic collection of things. Furniture pieces are special when they come with a story. I never learned to type on a typewriter. In Australia, classes were streamed on whether you were doing academic subjects or vocational subjects. Pitman shorthand is no longer taught in schools here. But I still had fun typing on my sister's little Olivetti typewriter. I guess typewriters have become collectors items, much like furniture.

  10. A beautiful secretary desk Mary, I love the bulletin boards on the doors - clever you!

    I have to admit that I've taught my self to type, after a fashion though not touch typing.
    How things have changed, it seems with computers being used in most jobs, typing skills are a necessity now.

    I loved seeing all your treasured bits on display Mary!
    I noticed your lovely Madonna, I have a penchant for Icons!
    I tried to read the titles of your books - I'm always interested in what others are reading.
    A long time ago you mentioned the Maria Duenas book "The Time in Between". It took me ages to track it down here - for some unknown reason it is also published under the title "The Seamstress" so I have that one. I'm still finishing it - I always seem to have at least two books on the go!

    Enjoy your weekend
    Shane xox

  11. Love your secretary. The way you have it dressed is wonderful! So many interesting objects to delight the eye. I am also a student of Gregg shorthand and our typing classroom was fortunate to have about 2/3 IBM Selectric and 1/3 of the black 'manual' typewriters. We had to rotate using the manual ones. What a difference between the machines, and oh, how we could fly on the IBMs! I think of all the shorthand and typing I did and how useless it is today!

  12. What a great post. I learned some things about you that I didn't know. Your secretary is beautiful. I learned to type on a portable Royal typewriter at home but not with proper hand formation. When I went to Bible school I took a Secretarial course for 1 year where I learned to type properly. {I still do!} After that year I got a job at a large department store in the Collections Department. I had to call people and 'collect' their past due bills!! It was stressful so after 2 years I felt I needed a change and a move. Off to a new city where I got a job as a receptionist at a financial lending company. We used an electric typewriter there but most things were done by hand. The 'new' computer came in 1977. It was connected to the head office only. I'm glad I learned to type properly as it sure is coming in handy with my blogging. I know many people can type just as fast or faster with their own style too. We've come a long way. Hugs, Pam

  13. When I was in college in England I was the only French student there so they fashioned a special program for me to study the English language. They had me take English with the commercial group where I learnt typing and Pitman shorthand on a manual typewriter (the teacher would place a record on so we would type in rhythm), then with the home economics group, then the engineering group, then the art group, etc. It was so much fun to go to such a variety of classes and I had loads of friends. I remember my school year in England as one of my best time ever! This is when I became such an anglophile.


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