1. Herman Melville, “Bartleby,” in Billy Budd and the Piazza Tales (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday and Co., 1961), pp. 116–21. “Bartleby” was published as one of the Piazza Tales in 1856. The lawyer soon added a fourth member to his staff, Bartleby.
2. In 1800 only 322,371 people were classified by the census as urban; there were only 6 cities with a population of more than 10,000, and the single largest city was in the 50,000 to 100,000 range. By contrast, there were 4,986,112 people classified as rural, over fifteen times as many. By 1860 the number of cities had increased: there were 95 cities with a population of more than 10,000 and 9 whose population exceeded 100,000. The 25,226,803 people classified as rural were now only four times the urban population, which stood at 6,216,518. Another index of the agrarian nature of the United States prior to the Civil War is that in 1820 roughly 75 percent of all those gainfully employed worked on farms. Source: Bureau of the Census, U.S. Department of Commerce, Historical Statistics of the United States: Colonial Times to 1957 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1960), Series A181-194 “Number of Places in Urban and Rural Territory, by Size of Place: 1790–1950,” Series A195-209 “Population in Urban and Rural Territory, by Size of Place: 1790–1950,” and Series D36-45 “Gainful Workers, by Age, Sex, and Farm-Nonfarm Occupations: 1820 to 1930.”
3. Douglass C. North, The Economic Growth of the United States, 1790–1860 (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1961), p. 50.
4. See Gerald C. Fischer, American Banking Structure (New York: Columbia University Press, 1968), pp. 9–18; and Harry D. Hutchinson, Money, Banking, and the United States Economy (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1975), pp. 59–61.
5. There is an extensive literature about early New England textile manufacture, particularly about the mills in Lowell, Massachusetts. Two books that focus on the development of the factory system, and on the capitalists who controlled it, are Caroline Ware, The Early New England Cotton Manufacture: A Study in Industrial Beginnings (New York: Russell and Russell, 1966 ) and Hannah Josephson, The Golden Threads: New England’s Mill Girls and Magnates (New York: Duell, Sloane and Pearce, 1949).
6. Melville, “Bartleby,” p. 123.
7. William T. Baxter, The House of Hancock: Business in Boston, 1724–1775 (New York: Russell and Russell, 1965), pp. 195–96.
8. Ibid., p. 197.
9. Stuart Weems Bruchey, Robert Oliver, Merchant of Baltimore, 1783–1819 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1956), p. 131.
10. Baxter, The House of Hancock, p. 146.
11. An extremely detailed history of accounting may be found in Richard Brown, A History of Accounting and Accountants (Edinburgh: T. C. and E. C. Jack, 1905). Those interested in accounting in Britain might consult David Murray, Chapters in the History of Bookkeeping, Accountancy and Commercial Arithmetic (Glasgow: Jackson, Wylie and Co., 1930), and Nicholas A. H. Stacey, English Accountancy: A Study in Social and Economic History, 1800–1954 (London: Gee and Co., 1954). Also see Sidney Pollard, The Genesis of Modern Management: A Study of the Industrial Revolution in Great Britain (Middlesex, Eng. and Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1965).
12. Baxter, The House of Hancock, pp. 17–21 and 35–38.
13. Matthew Josephson, The Robber Barons: The Great American Capitalists, 1861–1901 (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1934), p. 71.
14. Ibid., p. 18.
15. Henrietta M. Larson, Jay Cooke, Private Banker (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1936), p. 14.
16. Theodore Dreiser, The Financier (New York: Harper and Bros., 1912), pp. 48–49.
17. Larson, Jay Cooke, Private Banker, p. 19.
18. Ibid., p. 36.
19. “Familiar Scenes in the Life of a Clerk,” Part 2, Hunt’s Merchants’ Magazine 6 (1842): 58.
20. William Earl Dodge, “A Great Merchants’ Recollections of Old New York, 1818–1880,” Valentine’s Manual of Old New York, no. 5. n.s. (1921): 151. Before the Civil War, the term “clerk” referred to clerks in stores as well as clerks in offices unconnected to stores. Store clerks no doubt waited on customers, but they were also probably expected to do a certain amount of office work.
21. Larson, Jay Cooke, Private Banker, p. 38.
22. Alfred Chandler, whose concern is more with managers than with clerical workers, has described the managerial structures of this period. Even in the largest firms, the managerial systems were very rudimentary and direct. A “general superintendent” might be in charge of supervising the workforce, while the president or treasurer would arrange for financing and take care of other financial transactions. “Merchants, manufacturers or railroad officers spent nearly all their time carrying on functional activities. . . . Only occasionally were they obliged to consider long-term plans such as the adoption of new machinery, taking on another line of merchandise, or the finding of a new partner or agent.” Alfred D. Chandler, Jr., Strategy and Structure: Chapters in the History of the Industrial Enterprise (Cambridge, Mass.: M.I.T. Press, 1962), p. 19.
23. “At length the hour of shutting up the counting-house arrived [on Christmas Eve]. With an ill-will Scrooge dismounted from his stool, and tacitly admitted the fact to the expectant clerk in the Tank, who instantly snuffed his candle out, and put on his hat.
‘“You’ll want all day to-morrow, I suppose?’ said Scrooge.
“‘If quite convenient, sir.’
“‘It’s not convenient,’ said Scrooge, ‘and it’s not fair. If I was to stop half-a-crown for it, you’d think yourself ill used, I’ll be bound?’
“The clerk smiled faintly.
“And yet,’ said Scrooge, ‘you don’t think me ill used, when I pay a day’s wages for no work.’
“The clerk observed that it was only once a year.
“‘A poor excuse for picking a man’s pocket every twenty-fifth of December!’ said Scrooge, buttoning his great-coat to the chin. ‘But I suppose you must have the whole day. Be here all the earlier the next morning!’”
24. “Familiar Scenes in the Life of a Clerk,” Hunt’s Merchants’ Magazine 5 (1841): 536.
25. Josephson, The Robber Barons, p. 38. The moral of this story is not clear. Crime does or does not pay, depending on how you look at it.
26. “Familiar Scenes in the Life of a Clerk,” Part 2, p. 56.
27. William T. Baxter, Daniel Henchman: A Colonial Bookseller (Salem, Mass.: Essex Institute, 1934), p. 2.
28. Baxter, The House of Hancock, pp. 147–48.
29. Ibid., p. 199.
30. “Familiar Scenes in the Life of a Clerk,” p. 536.
31. Charles Booth, “Population Classified by Trades,” Life and Labour of the People in London, vol. 7 (1896), pp. 278–79. Cited in David Lockwood, The Blackcoated Worker: A Study in Class Consciousness (London: Unwin University Books, 1958), p. 32.
32. Baxter, The House of Hancock, pp. 146–47.
33. “Familiar Scenes in the Life of a Clerk,” p. 540.
34. David Lockwood describes a similar situation in English countinghouses, where relatively high-born men worked as clerks to learn the business alongside more lowly born clerks who had little chance of advancement. The clerks who were in fact apprentice merchants even worked for reduced wages in return for the opportunity of learning the trade, a situation that did the wages of the men who would always be clerks no good.
“‘There is a wide distinction,’ says one commentator, ‘between the clerk by profession and the clerk in statu pupillari. The merchant, the banker, the solicitor, and the novice in almost any trade or profession, begins to learn his duty as a clerk—it is the only way in which he is initiated; in his case it is only a state of preparation, not even of probation; his station in life, his actual capital, or his influential connections, give him a locus standi before he is qualified to fill it; to enable him to fill it with credit and advantage, he must learn the elements of business; and therefore he is placed as a clerk at the desk, but only temporarily, till he can undertake the management of the same business in its higher departments (The Clerk: A Sketch in Outline of His Duties and Discipline, Houlston’s Industrial Library No. 7 [London: 1878], p. 49). . . . ‘
“Out of a total of 1,370 clerks employed by some 350 firms, only 420 were salaried clerks, while no less than 950 were apprentices, that is to say, ‘usually lads of good family, and well supplied with pocket money, to whom, by virtue of their scanty pay, special facilities for learning the business are extended to the exclusion and disadvantage of the smaller body.’” Lockwood, The Blackcoated Worker, pp. 25–26.
35. Baxter, The House of Hancock, p. 421.
36. Dodge, “A Great Merchant’s Recollections of Old New York, 1818–1880,” p. 173.
37. Larson, Jay Cooke, Private Banker, p. 56.
38. Stephan Thernstrom, Poverty and Progress: Social Mobility in a Nineteenth Century City (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1964), p. 145.
39. Oscar Handlin, Boston’s Immigrants, 1790–1880 (New York: Atheneum, 1970 ), pp. 67–68.
40. Harry Braverman, Labor and Monopoly Capital: The Degradation of Work in the Twentieth Century (New York and London: Monthly Review Press, 1974), p. 293.
41. Lockwood, The Blackcoated Worker, p. 33.
1. Harry Braverman, Labor and Monopoly Capital: The Degradation of Work in the Twentieth Century (New York and London: Monthly Review Press, 1974), pp. 302–3.
2. It is difficult to find precise information about exactly what changes were made in office organization as the number of clerical workers grew from five, say, to forty-five. In general, the writers of business histories have been much more interested in issues such as how a company amassed the capital to open a new plant or buy out a competitor than in questions of the organization of clerical work, a subject that is sometimes referred to as a “reorganization of the staff” without further elaboration.
One point, however, can be made with relative certainty: the development of office organization during this period was extremely uneven, varying a great deal from firm to firm. First of all, despite the rapid expansion and consolidation of capitalist firms at the end of the nineteenth century, petit capitalist businesses by no means entirely disappeared. So while the large corporations might be forced into a “reorganization of the staff” because of their rapid growth, other firms that somehow managed to survive without growing all that much could continue office procedures that dated back to before the Civil War. Even among the large corporations, there was great variation in the extent and form of office reorganizations. For example, it was in the 1850s that Daniel C. McCallum made some of the first innovations in administrative restructuring for the Erie Railroad. And, according to Alfred Chandler, by the end of World War I, “most large industrial companies whose executives paid any attention to organizational matters were administered through much the same type of organization—the centralized, functionally departmentalized structure: (Alfred D. Chandler, Jr., Strategy and Structure: Chapters in the History of the Industrial Enterprise [Cambridge, Mass.: M.I.T. Press, 1962], p. 40). However, there were some large corporations that were very late to reorganize the administrative part of their operations. The most notorious example was Henry Ford, who refused to remove his finger from any of the auto company’s numerous pies and insisted on having a large majority of decisions about everything from the acquisition of raw materials to the sale of the automobiles go across his desk. Ford hung onto these anachronistic management practices into the 1930s and 1940s; bankruptcy was narrowly averted only by the advent of Henry Ford II, who introduced “modern management” practices.
3. Chandler, Strategy and Structure, p. 2.
4. Ibid., pp. 21–22.
5. There was an earlier method for copying letters and documents in which a sheet of damp tissue paper was pressed against the original, rendering a legible copy. Carbon paper was in limited use in the early nineteenth century, but it was only after the introduction of the typewriter with its hard-hitting keys that its use became widespread. By the 1880s stencil duplicating machines were in use, but it was not until the early 1900s that a rotary duplicating machine capable of making many copies relatively quickly was perfected. As early as 1853, William Burroughs had invented an adding machine, but it was not mass-produced and widely distributed until around 1900. And in 1889 Herman Hollerith took out a patent on the machine that is widely regarded as the first practical computer. Hollerith had worked on the U.S. Census of 1880: the laborious tabulation by hand of so many numbers made the usefulness of a mechanical method for tabulation self-evident. Hollerith’s computer was used in the 1890 census, and Hollerith himself went on to start the company that became International Business Machines (IBM) in 1924. A myriad of other office machines, such as the postal meter and the automatic envelope-addressing machine, were invented and put into use in the last years of the nineteenth and the first years of the twentieth centuries.
For more information on the history of office machines, see the chapter entitled “Abacus to Pocket Calculator” in Alan Delgado, The Enormous File: A Social History of the Office (London: John Murray, 1979); W. B. Proudfoot, The Origin of Stencil Duplicating (London: Hutchinson, 1972); Herman H. Goldstine, The Computer from Pascal to von Neumann (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1972); and Alfred D. Chandler, Jr., The Visible Hand: The Managerial Revolution in American Business (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1977).
6. My account of the development of the typewriter is based primarily on two sources: Richard N. Current, The Typewriter and the Men Who Made It (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1954); and Bruce Bliven, Jr., The Wonderful Writing Machine (New York: Random House, 1954).
7. Bliven, The Wonderful Writing Machine, p. 30.
8. Cited in ibid., pp. 30–31.
9. Ibid., p. 42.
10. Cited in Current, The Typewriter, p. 28.
11. Ibid., pp. 48–49.
12. Ibid., p. 64.
13. Cited in Bliven, The Wonderful Writing Machine, p. 61.
15. Ibid., p. 62.
16. Current, The Typewriter, p. 117.
17. Cited in Bliven, The Wonderful Writing Machine, pp. 70–71.
18. Cited in Current, The Typewriter, p. 110.
19. See Richard C. Edwards, “Alienation and Inequality: Capitalist Relations of Production in Bureaucratic Enterprises” (Ph.D. diss., Harvard University, 1972). Edwards also discusses the system of “structural control,” where the very manner in which workers perform their assigned tasks is defined by the capitalist or manager. The corporation, according to Edwards, has imposed “structural control over work activities. The organization, coordination, and assignment of work tasks is embedded in a larger structure of work. The Pace of work, along with specific direction in how the work tasks are to be completed, is determined by this structure. The Structure, being both more comprehensive than the immediate workplace of foremen and workers and having been imposed from a higher level, removes from the foreman’s hands the initiative control over the flow of work. The foreman’s role in the production process is transformed to one of merely enforcing an already pre-structured flow of work activities. Power was thus made invisible in the structure of work, rather than exercised openly by the foreman or supervisor” (pp. 99–100).
This phenomenon will be taken up at length in the chapter on scientific management in the office.
20. This account of N. W. Ayer and Son is based on Ralph M. Hower, The History of an Advertising Agency: N. W. Ayer and Son at Work, 1869–1939 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1939). Even though Hower’s book sheds more light on office procedures than do most other business histories, it still focuses on office managers and owners rather than mere clerical workers, so that some of the information about clerical work at Ayer’s must be found between the lines.
21. It is interesting to note that even though Ayer’s seems to have been rather ahead of itself in bureaucratic organization and reorganization, it still engaged in a rather outmoded practice—the acceptance of goods in kind (books, patent medicine) as payment for services rendered. This practice was not to last long, however. Hower notes that “by 1890 the agency had given up accepting merchandise in settlement of accounts with advertisers.” Ibid., p. 491.
22. Ibid., p. 496.
23. Ibid., pp. 496–97.
24. Ibid., p. 497.
25. Cited in ibid., p. 507. My emphasis.
26. Cited in ibid., p. 521. My emphasis.
27. Ibid., p. 567.
28. Ibid., pp. 540–41. My emphasis.
29. Cited in ibid., pp. 543–44.
30. Ibid., pp. 544–45. Emphasis in the original.
31. Ibid., pp. 561–62.
32. Ibid., p. 532.
33. Cited in ibid., p. 533. Emphasis in the original.
34. And “in 1899 the Ayer management inaugurated a policy of hiring a few college graduates from time to time in order to improve its personnel. The first person so chosen was a Dartmouth man of the class of 1899.” Ibid., p. 534. Gone is the policy of having future executives start out as office boys.
35. Ibid., p. 563. My emphasis.
36. Ibid., p. 536.
1. “Women in Business: I,” Fortune, 12, no. 1 (July 1935): 53.
2. “Female Government Clerks in America,” Chambers’s Journal 65 (14 January 1888): 29.
3. “Women in Business: I,” p. 53.
4. “Female Government Clerks in America,” p. 29.
5. Cindy S. Aron, “‘To Barter Their Souls for Gold’: Female Clerks in Federal Government Offices, 1862–1890,” Journal of American History 67 (March 1981): 843.
6. Helen L. Sumner, History of Women in Industry in the United States, Volume 9 of the Report on Condition of Woman and Child Wage-Earners in the United States, U.S. Senate document no. 645 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1910), pp. 238–40.
7. Ralph M. Hower, The History of an Advertising Agency: N. W. Ayer and Son at Work, 1869–1939 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1939), pp. 535–36.
8. When typewriters were first being marketed, the person who operated one was also called a “typewriter.” This confusion of terminology left the door wide open to a whole series of bad jokes, such as this one retold by Bruce Bliven: “the story about the young businessman who had suffered a sudden reverse and wrote to his wife: ‘Dear Blanche: I have sold off all my office furniture, chairs, desks, etc., etc., and I am writing this letter under difficulties with my typewriter on my lap.’” (Bruce Bliven, Jr., The Wonderful Writing Machine (New York: Random House, 1954), pp. 72–73. I will use the term “typist” throughout to refer to the person who operated a typewriter. This should eliminate any confusion.
9. Bliven, The Wonderful Writing Machine, p. 60.
10. Cited in Richard N. Current, The Typewriter and the Men Who Made It (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1954), p. 86.
11. U.S. Department of Labor, Women’s Bureau, The Effects of Applied Research upon the Employment Opportunities of American Women (Washington: Government Printing Office, n.d.), p. 42. My emphasis.
12. Bliven, The Wonderful Writing Machine, pp. 71–72.
13. For further discussion of this point, see Heidi Hartmann, “The Unhappy Marriage of Marxism and Feminism: Towards a More Progressive Union,” in Lydia Sargent, ed., Women and Revolution: A Discussion of the Unhappy Marriage of Marxism and Feminism (Boston, Mass.: South End Press, 1981).
14. Figures compiled from Table 4, “Number of Persons Engaged in Specified Occupations, for Both Sexes and for Each Sex Separately: 1870, 1880, 1890, and 1900,” in the introductory chapter on the “Comparison at Twelfth and Preceding Censuses”; Bureau of the Census, Department of Commerce and Labor, Special Report of the 12th Census: Occupations at the 12th Census (Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1904), p. 1.
15. Figures cited in C. Wright Mills, White Collar: The American Middle Classes (New York: Oxford University Press, 1951), p. 16.
16. See Appendix, Table 5. It should be remembered, however, that the census data on which this table is based do not distinguish between large and small capitalists, although it is safe to assume that the number of truly large capitalists was never very great. Furthermore, the census data consistently lump together proprietors and managers of various kinds of companies. Despite the fact that the twentieth century witnessed the transformation of many an entrepreneur into a salaried manager, these new managers probably had much in common with small businessmen. Their precise relationship to the ownership of production had changed, it is true, but less quantifiable factors such as their sense of class identity and patterns of consumption probably did not differ all that much from those of the classic petite bourgeoisie.
17. C. Wright Mills notes that “in the four decades prior to World War II, the number of firms in existence rose from 1 to 2 million, but during the same period nearly 16 million firms began operation, and at least 14 million went out of business.” White Collar, p. 23.
18. Ibid, p. 31.
19. Booth Tarkington, Alice Adams (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Page and Co., 1921), pp. 433–34.
20. Aron, “‘To Barter Their Souls for Gold,’” p. 841.
21. Grace L. Coyle, “Women in the Clerical Occupations,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 143 (May 1929): 182–83.
22. “Average Weekly Earnings during Whole Time Employed for Selected Female Workers: Boston, 1883,” in 15th Annual Report of the Massachusetts Bureau of Statistics of Labor, Part I: “The Working Girls of Boston” (Boston: Wright and Potter, 1884).
23. “Average Net Income of Women Workers in Boston, by Occupation: 1910,” in Louise Marion Bosworth, The Living Wage of Women Workers: A Study of Incomes and Expenditures of 450 Women in the City of Boston (New York: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1911), p. 16.
24. Coyle, “Women in the Clerical Occupations,” p. 181.
25. What remains of that correspondence, consisting mainly of letters from Maimie to Mrs. Howe (as they always referred to each other), is in the archives of the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The letters have also been reprinted in Ruth Rosen and Sue Davidson, eds., The Maimie Papers (Old Westbury, N.Y.: Feminist Press, 1977).
26. Maimie Pomerantz Jacobs, Papers, 1910–1922, Schlesinger Library.
27. Miriam Finn Scott, “Sarah and Mr. Salamovitch,” Outlook 87 (1907): 531.
28. Ibid., pp. 533–34.
29. Ibid., pp. 536–37.
30. Dorothy Richardson, The Long Day: The Story of a New York Working Girl (1905). Reprinted in William L. O’Neill, ed., Women at Work (Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1972), p. 271.
31. One of the best accounts I know of productive work in the home is the series of books written by Laura Ingalls Wilder about growing up in a homesteading family in the western United States during the last three decades of the nineteenth century. From the Little House in the Big Woods of Wisconsin to the Little House on the Prairie of the Dakota Territories, these books contain a myriad of details about the home life of the Ingalls family. The reduction in the amount of work done in the home is reflected in the books, as the family moves from situations of pure homesteading, with the nearest neighbors two miles away, to life in western towns, where more goods are available in stores and less produced in the home. Although these are children’s books, I would recommend them to anyone interested in a first-hand account of life in the United States in the late nineteenth century.
32. Gerda Lerner, “The Lady and the Mill Girl: Changes in the Status of Women in the Age of Jackson,” Mid-Continent American Studies Journal 10 (Spring 1969).
33. Tarkington, Alice Adams, p. 27.
34. For an interesting account of the class origins of nurses, their changing class status, and the growth of division of labor and hierarchical stratification in United States hospitals, see Susan Reverby, “The Emergence of Hospital Nursing,” Health Policy Advisory Center Bulletin 66 (September–October 1975). Until the 1920s, hospital nursing was done almost entirely by untrained working-class women and unpaid student nurses. In fact, Reverby writes, as late as 1928, “the public often viewed the hospital nursing school as ‘. . . a sort of respectable reform school where its mental or disciplinary cases can be sent’” (pp. 9–10). Graduate nurses by and large went into private nursing and did not start to stay in hospitals in large numbers until the 1920s and 1930s.
35. Elizabeth Baker, Technology and Woman’s Work (New York and London: Columbia University Press, 1964), p. 282.
36. J. D. Beveridge, “Efficiency in the Business Department of the High School,” National Education Association Proceedings (Washington, D.C.: National Education Association: 1912), p. 1039.
37. Janice Harriet Weiss, “Educating for Clerical Work: A History of Commercial Education in the United States since 1850” (Ed.D. diss., Harvard Graduate School of Education, 1978), pp. 37–38. Weiss provides an excellent analytic history of commercial education, both in private business schools and in public high schools.
38. Ibid., p. 77. In 1914–15 there were 208,605 students in public high school commercial courses and 183,286 in private commercial schools.
39. Ibid., p. 174. In 1900, 58.4 percent of all public high school students, grades nine to twelve, were female; in 1930, 52.0 percent were.
40. Ibid., p. 257.
41. 15th Annual Report of the Massachusetts Bureau of Statistics of Labor, Part I: “The Working Girls of Boston,” Table 1 (Boston: Wright and Potter, 1884).
42. Bureau of the Census, Department of Commerce and Labor, Special Report of the 12th Census (1900), Statistics of Women at Work (Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1907), Table 28. The totals of clerical workers of the various races and nativities do not always add up to 100 percent. This discrepancy is contained without explanation in the 1900 Census figures.
43. Ibid., tables 14 and 15.
44. Ibid., table 28.
45. Ibid., table 26.
46. Ibid., table 29.
47. Ibid., table 27.
48. Ibid., tables 26 and 28.
49. Elizabeth Sears, “Business Women and Women in Business,” Harper’s Monthly Magazine 134 (January 1917): 276.
50. Ibid., p. 274.
51. Ibid., pp. 274–75.
1. Reproductions of this engraving can be found in Bruce Bliven, Jr., The Wonderful Writing Machine (New York: Random House, 1954), p. 73, and in Margery Davies, “Woman’s Place Is at the Typewriter: The Feminization of the Clerical Labor Force,” Radical America 8, no. 4 (July–August 1974): 12.
2. This and all other quotations from this article come from Marion Harland, “The Incapacity of Business Women,” North American Review 149 (1889): 707–12. The term “business woman” was often applied to any woman employed in a business office, whether she had a clerical or a managerial position.
3. Clara Lanza, “Women Clerks in New York,” Cosmopolitan 10 (1891): 487–92.
4. Theodora Wadsworth Baker, “Business Woman,” Harper’s Weekly 47 (1903): 1015.
5. Henry Norman, “The Feminine Failure in Business,” Forum 63 (1920): 455.
6. “Have You a Little ‘Deception’ Clerk in Your Business?” Literary Digest 64 (6 March 1920): 131.
7. R. LeClerc Phillips, “The Temperamental Typist,” North American Review 227 (1929): 11.
8. Annie Merrill, “Woman in Business,” Canadian Magazine 21 (1903): 409–10.
9. Harriet Brunkhurst, “The Married Woman in Business,” Collier’s, The National Weekly 44 (26 February 1910): 20.
10. Gissing, an English novelist, provides a particularly interesting, and relatively early, example of this support for the woman office worker. Obviously, in the late nineteenth century England and the United States had different cultures, but the existence of a strong feminist movement in both nations, coupled with the fact that women were entering offices in each, leads one to conclude that Gissing’s ideas must have found some resonance on this side of the Atlantic. George Gissing, The Odd Women (New York: W. W. Norton and Co., 1971 ).
11. Ibid., p. 54.
12. Ibid., pp. 135–36.
13. Clarence Budington Kelland, “His Wife’s Place,” Everybody’s Magazine 41 (November 1919): 17.
14. Ibid., p. 114.
16. Norman, “The Feminine Failure in Business,” p. 459.
17. Stanley Frost, “What Speed is Worth,” Collier’s, The National Weekly 68 (22 October 1921): 26.
18. Phillips, “The Temperamental Typist,” p. 12.
19. Jacques Boyer, “Are Men Better Typists than Women?: Interesting Scientific Tests Made by J. M. Lahy,” Scientific American 109 (1913): 327.
20. C. E. Smith, letter to the editor in response to “Are Men Better Typists than Women?” Scientific American 109 (1913): 411.
22. Eleanor Whiting, “Business or the Home for Women?” Living Age 217 (1898): 484.
23. By a Successful Business Woman, “Why I Will Not Let My Daughter Go into Business,” Ladies Home Journal (September 1909): 16.
26. Gissing, The Odd Women, p. 135.
27. Harriet Brunkhurst, “The Home Trials of Business Girls: How Some Mothers Add Unconsciously to Their Daughters’ Burdens,” Ladies Home Journal 27 (September 1910): 30.
28. It does not strike me as accidental that Gissing’s heroines were feminists and therefore more likely to question conventional assumptions about woman’s place. Harriet Brunkhurst, of all the participants in the debate, seems to have been the most clear-headed about the fact that most women worked in offices out of necessity and were not always in a position to choose marriage.
29. Even leaving aside the strong cultural and psychological forces pushing women to assume that their place really was in the home, it is not hard to see how this assumption, and the accompanying restriction of women to low-level clerical jobs, could easily become a self-fulfilling prophecy. A woman who recognized that her chances of substantial promotion within the office bureaucracy were nil might well decide that it would be rational for her to find a husband to support her. Why should she work at a series of uninteresting routine jobs, to be rewarded only with a moderate income and a gold pin for devoted service when she retired? Having seen the futility of a “Career in Business,” she might well decide that the sooner she married and had a family, the better.
30. C. S. Yoakum and Marion A. Bills, “Tests for Office Occupations,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 110 (November 1923): 64.
31. R. C. Schumann, “A Well-Rounded Group of Office Methods,” System 47 (1925): 738–39.
1. Harry Braverman considers scientific management, or Taylorism as it is often called, to be of central importance in the degradation of work under capitalism: “If Taylorism does not exist as a separate school today, that is because, apart from the bad odor of the name, it is no longer the property of a faction, since its fundamental teachings have become the bedrock of all work design.” Harry Braverman, Labor and Monopoly Capital: The Degradation of Work in the Twentieth Century (New York and London: Monthly Review Press, 1974), p. 87.
2. “The High Cost of Stenographic Service,” System 24 (September 1913), advertising section (no page numbers).
3. “The Better Way to Conduct an Office,” World’s Work 10 (1905): 6677–78.
4. Ibid., p. 6677.
5. Ibid., pp. 6678–79.
6. Ibid., p. 6679.
7. Edward D. Page, “The New Science of Business: Making an Office Efficient,” World’s Work 12 (1906): 7683–84. My emphasis.
8. S. A. Peck, “Putting Office Work on a Production Basis: Routing and Control in Office Administration,” Industrial Management 64 (1922): 358. My emphasis. The struggle over who controlled the work process lasted a long time (1922 was surely not the end of it), in part because clerical workers fought to maintain control, and in part because changes in the size of offices and in their organization did not take place at the same rate everywhere. The reorganization of office production might become necessary relatively early on in one office, while another office might not undergo rapid expansion until twenty or thirty years later.
9. W. H. Leffingwell, “9 Ways to Cut Office Expenses,” System 41 (1922): 277.
10. Edward Earle Purinton, “Office Efficiency,” Independent 85 (21 February 1916): 280–81.
11. Chester C. Kaskell, “An Army Plan in Our Offices,” System 38 (1920): 425.
12. David Lockwood, The Blackcoated Worker: A Study in Class Consciousness (London: Unwin University Books, 1958), pp. 92–93.
13. In 1923, for example, the office manager for Graton and Knight Manufacturing Co., tanners and manufacturers of leather belting at Worcester, Massachusetts, wrote that “concerns having exceptionally large office forces, especially those who have a large number of workers on one job or class of work, have been successful in establishing office standardization, as well as piece work or premium systems. The executives in charge of smaller office forces—say two hundred or under—rightfully feel that their problem is very different, and quite difficult, on account of the variety of work that any one clerk may do. This article will describe the standardization, and establishment of a premium system, in one of these smaller types of office organizations, and will include the description of this system in an accounts receivable department of seven clerks; a voucher record department of one clerk; a Hollerith accounting department of four clerks; a stenographic department of ten clerks; and an order and invoice department of ten clerks.” F. E. Barth, “The Premium System in Office Departments: Putting Clerical Work on a Production Basis,” Industrial Management 65 (1923): 49.
And advice on “saving time in office routine” from an elementary school principal in Seattle, Washington, indicated a familiarity with the principle of scientific management that counseled against having a higher-paid worker do jobs that a lower-paid worker could do: “Many principals do work that the janitor, teachers or pupils should do. When the principal has decided who should do certain work, he should act on his decision. When the principal has determined that he should do a piece of work, that work should be reduced to the best possible routine.” While this principal could not have had a very elaborate division of labor in an office that consisted of himself and a clerk, it was clear that he was aware of the ideas in the scientific office management movement and was attempting to apply them to his own situation. Edgar A. Stanton, “Saving Time in Office Routine,” Elementary School Journal 28 (December 1927): 265.
14. Grace L. Coyle, “Women in the Clerical Occupations,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 143 (May 1929): 184.
15. William Henry Leffingwell, Office Management: Principles and Practice (Chicago and New York: A. W. Shaw, 1925), p. ix.
16. Ibid., p. 115.
17. W. H. Leffingwell, “What ‘Scientific Management’ Did for My Office,” part 1 System 30 (1916): 618–19.
18. George F. Card, “Charting Each Stenographer’s Work,” System 23 (1913): 435–36.
19. R. H. Goodell, “Savings 42% on Routine Work,” System 37 (1920): 1184.
20. Ibid., p. 1185.
23. Walter D. Fuller, “Standardization of Office Work,” Industrial Management 53 (1917): 506–7.
24. J. W. Rowland, “5 People Do the Work of 11,” System 39 (1921): 379.
25. R. N. Gooch, “More Letters—Lower Costs,” System 24 (1913): 43.
26. W. H. Leffingwell, “This Plan More Than Doubled Our Typists’ Output,” System 30 (1916): 467. Emphasis in the original.
27. For those who are not familiar with the story of Schmidt, it is well worth reading. Frederick Winslow Taylor set it down in glowing detail in The Principles of Scientific Management, (New York: Norton, 1967 ) pp. 41–47. It can also be found in Harry Braverman, Labor and Monopoly Capital, pp. 102–6.
28. William H. Leffingwell, “What ‘Scientific Management’ Did for My Office,” part 2 System 31 (1917): 69–70.
29. Leffingwell, “This Plan More Than Doubled Our Typists’ Output,” pp. 463–64.
30. George A. Ricker, “How Much Is Your Stenographer Worth?” System 29 (1916): 215.
31. W. H. Leffingwell, “41 Ways to Save Time in an Office,” System 31 (1917): 146.
32. Kendall Banning, “More Work and Fewer Mistakes,” System 24 (1913): 397.
33. Homer S. Pace, “How We Doubled Our Output in Six Months,” System 35 (1919): 634.
34. Ibid., p. 635.
35. Charles M. Ripley, “A Bundle of Office Ideas,” System 36 (1919): 225.
36. Floyd W. Parsons, “Ways to Cut Business Costs,” World’s Work 45 (1923): 394. Parsons added that “in order to make sure that no employee wastes his time doing work that can be done by some other person receiving less pay, the manager had a slip printed and distributed, which read as follows: ‘Many people are in the habit of saying that they can do a certain thing more quickly than they can tell someone else how to do it, and therefore many minor tasks are performed each day by various employees who could better devote their time to more important matters. Each worker should not forget that though he may be able to do a certain job once in less time than it would take for a first explanation, it is nevertheless true that after a subordinate is taught, the high-priced time of the more important executive is saved over and over again.’” Ibid., p. 396.
37. William H. Leffingwell, “What ‘Scientific Management’ Did for My Office,” part 1 System 30 (1916): 621. It is worth noting that Leffingwell assumed that the executive was a “he” and the memory clerk a “she.” His assumption reflects the fact that not only were more executives men and many clerks women by this point, but also that scientific managers were concerned to fit the worker of the appropriate sex as well as skill to the job.
38. Parsons, “Ways to Cut Business Costs,” p. 397.
39. Henry Anson Piper, “Cutting the Clerical Cost: Planning Procedure for Plant Offices in Large Organizations,” Industrial Management 63 (1922): 121.
40. Banning, “More Work and Fewer Mistakes,” p. 391.
41. Ibid., pp. 392–93.
42. C. S. Yoakum and Marion A. Bills, “Tests for Office Occupations,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 110 (November 1923): 73.
43. L. L. Thurstone, “A Standardized Test for Office Clerks,” Journal of Applied Psychology 3 (1919): 248.
44. Eugene J. Benge, “Simple Tests for Selecting Office Workers: Making Sure, before Employing, That the Applicant Is Fitted for the Job,” Industrial Management 61 (1921): 91.
45. Margaret P. Jaques, “Mental Tests for Typists and Stenographers,” Industrial Management 58 (1919): 145.
46. “The use of tests in employment is as yet sufficiently unusual so that relatively few persons have come in contact with them. Some applicants may therefore be suspicious and even resentful when asked to take a test. These possible situations must be kept in mind and must be avoided so far as possible by tactful handling of subjects.” Yoakum and Bills, “Tests for Office Occupations,” p. 61.
47. G. W. Greenwood, “Simple Tests for Office Applicants,” Industrial Management 57 (1919): 377. Emphasis in the original.
48. Leffingwell, “41 Ways to Save Time in an Office,” pp. 139–40.
49. Ripley, “A Bundle of Office Ideas,” p. 226.
50. Parsons, “Ways to Cut Business Costs,” p. 395.
51. Goodell, “Saving 42% on Routine Work,” p. 1184.
52. Pace, “How We Doubled Our Output in Six Months,” p. 634. My emphasis.
53. This writer made no bones about who should be the boss in an office. Still on the subject of the flat-top desk, he stated that “there should be no locks except on the center drawer, in which can be kept the personal belongings of the user. The contents of the other drawers are the property of the company and should be open to the inspection of the department head at any time during the absence of the user of the desk.” Wallace Clark, “Getting the Office Work Done—III: Furnishing and Equipping an Office,” Industrial Management 60 (1920): 190.
54. Edward D. Page, “Handling Office Employees,” World’s Work 12 (1906): 7797.
55. From the experience of Adolph M. Schwarz, “An Artistic Office Cuts Our Payroll,” System 42 (1922): 251–52.
56. Ripley, “A Bundle of Office Ideas,” p. 226.
57. Stanley C. Tarrant, “How One Office Reduced Overtime Work,” System 25 (1914): 658–59.
58. W. H. Leffingwell, “This Plan More Than Doubled Our Typists’ Output,” pp. 467–68.
59. Hinton Gilmore, “Gingering Up Office Work: Methods by Which the Office Manager of a Michigan Concern Obtained Better Work,” System 28 (1915): 189.
60. Ibid., p. 185.
61. Ibid., p. 187. Gilmore also stated that “women, the office manager has found, are apt to respond to music in greater degree—so far as their attitude towards their work goes—than men; and he recommends music principally for offices where many girls are employed.” Ibid.
62. Ibid., p. 189.
64. On this point, Harry Braverman sees the work of Frederick Winslow Taylor as the culmination rather than the beginning of changes in the organization of industrial production: “The publication of management manuals, the discussions of the problems of management, and the increasingly sophisticated approach taken in practice in the second half of the nineteenth century lend support to the conclusion of the historians of the scientific management movement that Taylor was the culmination of a pre-existing trend: ‘What Taylor did was not to invent something quite new, but to synthesize and present as a reasonably coherent whole ideas which had been germinating and gathering force in Great Britain and the United States throughout the nineteenth century. He gave to a disconnected series of initiatives and experiments a philosophy and a title.’” Lyndall Urwick and E. F. L. Brech, The Making of Scientific Management, 3 vols. (London, 1945–1948), 1: 17, quoted in Braverman, Labor and Monopoly Capital, p. 89.
65. Braverman, Labor and Monopoly Capital, pp. 72–73.
66. Goodell, “Saving 42% on Routine Work,” p. 1184.
1. Frederick G. Nichols, The Personal Secretary: Differentiating Duties and Essential Personal Traits (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1934), p. 30.
2. The word “secretary” derives from the Latin “secretarius,” which referred to “a secretary, a notary, scribe, etc., a title applied to various confidential officers.” “Secretarius,” in turn, derived from “secretum,” which meant “secret.” An obsolete definition of “secretary” is “one who is entrusted with private or secret matters; a confident; one privy to a secret.” The two most commonly used current definitions are (1) “one whose office it is to write for another; esp. one who is employed to conduct correspondence, to keep records, and (usually) to transact various other business, for another person or for a society, corporation, or public body”; and (2) “in the official designations of certain ministers presiding over executive departments of state” (The Oxford English Dictionary). “Secretary” often referred to someone whose duties went far beyond those of a stenographer or typist. Even today, a “secretary” can be an important executive or official, as in “secretary of the corporation” or “secretary of state.” Formerly, the term for someone who wrote at the dictation of another was “amanuensis,” derived from the Latin and meaning “one who copies or writes from the dictation of another.” The word had fallen into disuse by the 1900s, being replaced by both “stenographer” and “secretary.”
3. Ellen Lane Spencer, The Efficient Secretary (New York: Frederick A. Stokes, 1916), p. 4.
4. W. W. Charters and Isadore B. Whitley, Analysis of Secretarial Duties and Traits (Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1924), pp. 177–78.
5. Edward Jones Kilduff, The Private Secretary: The Duties and Opportunities of His Position, rev. ed. (New York and London: Century, 1924), pp. 10–11. Also see Anne Pillsbury Anderson, “The Private Secretary,” in Agnes F. Perkins, ed., Vocations for the Trained Woman: Opportunities Other Than Teaching (Boston: Women’s Educational and Industrial Union, 1910), pp. 209–10. She argues that “in the majority of cases a stenographer grows into a secretary gradually, a busy man being only too thankful to throw into competent hands the details which are too vexatious and petty for his consideration.”
6. Helen B. Gladwyn, “How I Became a Confidential Secretary” Ladies’ Home Journal 33 (September 1916): 32.
7. Spencer, The Efficient Secretary, pp. 35–39.
8. Gladys Torson, “Ask My Secretary . . . “: The Art of Being a Successful Business Girl (New York: Greenberg, 1940), p. 67. Torson went on to point out that “letters of congratulation and condolence seem to be harder for the average man to write than for the average woman, and you will do well to make a study of these two types of letters. They should be simple, not flowery, and above all they should sound sincere” (p. 68).
9. Edward Jones Kilduff, The Private Secretary: His Duties and Opportunities (New York: Century, 1917), p. 68. This is the first edition of a book that was revised in 1924. See note 5, above.
10. Ibid., p. 62.
11. Elizabeth Hilliard Ragan, “One Secretary as per Specifications,” Saturday Evening Post 204 (12 December 1931): 10.
12. Kilduff, The Private Secretary (1917), p. 69.
13. Ibid., pp. 280–84. Gladys Torson also advised secretaries to seize the initiative in reforming their employers’ “bad business habits,” although she cautioned that “any measures you take will have to be diplomatic.” Torson, “Ask My Secretary,” p. 135.
14. Frances Avery Faunce, with Frederick G. Nichols, Secretarial Efficiency (New York and London: McGraw-Hill, 1939), p. 340.
15. Anderson, “The Private Secretary,” p. 210.
16. Charters and Whitley, Analysis of Secretarial Duties and Traits, p. 30.
17. W. W. Charters and Isadore B. Whitley, Summary of Report on Analysis of Secretarial Duties and Traits (New York: National Junior Personnel Service, 1924), p. 15. This book summarizes the larger volume by the same authors, Analysis of Secretarial Duties and Traits (see note 4, above). Another attempt at categorizing secretarial tasks was made by Frederick Nichols in The Personal Secretary; see tables 17 and 22.
18. Kilduff, The Private Secretary (1917), p. 89.
19. Ibid., pp. 210–11.
20. Faunce and Nichols, Secretarial Efficiency, p. 7. Emphasis in original.
21. Kilduff, The Private Secretary (1917), p. 145.
22. Ibid., p. 12.
23. Margaret A. Post, “Opportunities for Women in Secretarial Service,” in Susan M. Kingsbury, ed., Vocations for the Trained Woman: Agriculture, Social Service, Secretarial Service, Business of Real Estate, published under the auspices of the Women’s Educational and Industrial Union, Boston (New York: Longmans, Green, 1914), pp. 121–22.
24. Post, “Opportunities for Women in Secretarial Service,” pp. 122–23. This study was based on the files of 1,500 “girls and women” who registered with the Women’s Educational and Industrial Union in Boston for secretarial and stenographic work, and on reports of 371 women who had taken the secretarial course at Simmons College in Boston.
25. Torson, “Ask My Secretary,” pp. 62–63.
26. Kilduff, The Private Secretary (1917), p. 247.
27. Ibid., pp. 24, 31–32.
28. Gladys Torson, How to Be a Hero to Your Secretary: A Handbook for Bosses, (New York: Greenberg, 1941), pp. 46–47.
29. Lauretta Fancher, “His Secretary Speaking,” Colliers 83 (13 April 1929): 40.
30. Federal Board for Vocational Education, Commercial Occupations, Opportunity Monograph No. 23 (1919). Cited in Elizabeth Kemper-Adams, Women Professional Workers, a study made for the Women’s Educational and Industrial Union (New York: Macmillan, 1921), p. 228.
31. Kilduff, The Private Secretary (1917), p. 37.
32. Ibid., p. 52. Kilduff does not mention what should be done if the caller cannot be reached by phone and shows up for the appointment anyway. Presumably the good will of the caller would, in that case, be sacrificed to the employer’s valuable time.
33. Ibid., pp. 194–95. My emphasis.
34. Frances Avery Faunce, “On the Adventure of Being a Secretary: Fourteen Tools of Secretarial Service,” Education 55 (1935): 406. Emphasis in the original. Gladys Torson also remarked on the importance of the secretary as a buffer between her employer and his callers: “A secretary’s first job is to keep things running smoothly for her employer. She must keep out pests, protect her employer from unnecessary interruptions . . .” Torson, “Ask My Secretary,” p. 133.
35. Fancher, “His Secretary Speaking,” p. 28.
38. Gladwyn, “How I Became a Confidential Secretary,” p. 32.
39. Charters and Whitley, Summary, pp. 56, 60. The gift-buying aspect of a secretary’s job was not necessarily a matter of common knowledge. One secretary told this story about her employer’s wife: “She was telling me how wonderful her husband is. That he never forgets her birthday or their anniversary. She never has to hint about it like most wives. Well, I could have told her why. The first day I went to work for him, he gave me a list of all the anniversaries he has to remember and I marked them on my calendar. Then, when the time comes, I remind him, and he says, ‘Oh, yes. Well, take a long noon hour and get something for me. About fifty dollars!’ And I do. And have it wrapped and buy a card and put the pen in his hand and wait to be sure he writes, ‘With much love from Jim.’” Fancher, “His Secretary Speaking,” p. 40.
40. Mildred Harrington, “Too Much Dictation,” American Magazine 110 (September 1930): 57, 137.
41. Fancher, “His Secretary Speaking,” p. 28.
42. Harrington, “Too Much Dictation,” p. 138.
43. Charters and Whitley, Analysis of Secretarial Duties and Traits, p. 136.
44. Charters and Whitley, Summary, pp. 49 and 59. In her list of “tools of secretarial service,” Frances Avery Faunce included “passivity.” “It is not easy to be passive while you are taking dictation, but your personality must not intrude on the scene. The employer is allowed the active mood at this point; the employed, the passive. If she can be passive on the outside and wholly alert on the inside, she is being clever and efficient, and her employer is not the last one to recognize this.” Faunce, “On the Adventure of Being a Secretary,” p. 405.
45. Grace R. Hazard, “A Feather Duster: A Working Girl Looks at her Employers,” Scribner’s Magazine 85 (February 1929): 189. Emphasis in original.
46. Ibid., p. 194.
47. Torson, “Ask My Secretary,” p. 133. Torson went on to comment, “Until the Bolshevists take over, your boss’s rights have precedence over yours. It is his privilege to give rein to his prima donna instincts if he feels like it, but it is not yours to do likewise. It is your privilege to resign, however, if the tantrums get too bad” (p. 134).
48. Ibid., p. 135. When Kilduff suggested that a secretary should get his employer to adopt systematic business habits, he was also careful to point out that “there is, of course, great need for tact and diplomacy in getting the employer to adopt a system.” Kilduff, The Private Secretary (1917), p. 284.
49. Torson, “Ask My Secretary,” pp. 79–81.
50. Fancher, “His Secretary Speaking,” p. 28.
51. Harrington, “Too Much Dictation,” p. 57. Emphasis in original.
52. Faunce and Nichols, Secretarial Efficiency, pp. 17–18.
53. Gladwyn, “How I Became a Confidential Secretary,” p. 32.
54. Charters and Whitley, Analysis of Secretarial Duties and Traits, p. 175. This is not in fact all that astonishing, if one considers that the most intelligent thing a secretary could do was to keep his or her job, and that “getting the employer’s point of view” had a lot to do with keeping that job.
55. Charters and Whitley, Summary, pp. 59, 62.
56. Faunce and Nichols, Secretarial Efficiency, p. 54. My emphasis.
57. Kilduff, The Private Secretary (1917), p. 268.
58. Faunce and Nichols, Secretarial Efficiency, p. 517.
59. Sarah Louis Arnold, “The College Woman as Secretary,” in Perkins, Vocations for the Trained Woman: Opportunities Other Than Teaching, p. 203.
60. Charters and Whitley, Summary, p. 60.
61. Ibid., p. 55.
62. Kilduff, The Private Secretary (1917), p. 270.
63. Torson, “Ask My Secretary,” p. 83.
64. Nichols, The Personal Secretary, p. 42.
65. Charters and Whitley, Summary, pp. 52–53.
66. Charters and Whitley, Analysis of Secretarial Duties and Traits, p. 53.
67. Charters and Whitley, Summary, pp. 54, 61. Out of the forty-seven traits that employers mentioned as being valuable in a secretary, “tact” held eighth place and “graciousness” twenty-first. Ibid., pp. 47–48.
68. Kilduff, The Private Secretary (1924), pp. 53–54. The original (1917) edition of this book did not even recognize the existence of female private secretaries. The second edition does, thus reflecting the transitional stage where an employer was as likely to have a female as a male private secretary.
69. Kilduff, The Private Secretary (1917), p. 273.
70. Spencer, The Efficient Secretary, p. 27.
71. Charters and Whitley, Summary, pp. 50, 54.
72. Ragan, “One Secretary as per Specifications,” p. 10.
73. Anderson, “The Private Secretary,” p. 209.
74. Ragan, “One Secretary as per Specifications,” p. 11.
75. Harrington, “Too Much Dictation,” p. 139.
76. Faunce and Nichols, Secretarial Efficiency, p. 10.
77. Torson, “Ask My Secretary,” pp. 39–40. Emphasis in the original.
78. Faunce, “On the Adventure of Being a Secretary,” p. 405. Such exhortations to selflessness were common in the literature on how to be a good secretary.
79. One possible explanation for this state of affairs is that the line between private secretaries and other clerical workers was often fuzzy. In 1914 the author of “Opportunities for Women in Secretarial Service” states that “in this report the word ‘secretary’ is used throughout, though in many cases the individual is purely a stenographer, but by eliminating those receiving a weekly wage of less than $10—representing the lower grade of stenographic service—the higher grade stenographer may properly be included. The line between the two positions is so indistinct it does not seem feasible to attempt to make it hard and fast.” Margaret A. Post, “Opportunities for Women in Secretarial Service,” in Kingsbury, Vocations for the Trained Woman, p. 117. And for their survey of secretarial duties and traits, Charters and Whitley made “no direct attempt in getting the list of names to distinguish between secretaries and stenographers.” Charters and Whitley, Summary, p. 14. Nonetheless, the very existence of books and articles that tried to distinguish the characteristics and tasks peculiar to private secretaries indicates that people were trying to make that fuzzy line more distinct.
80. Alba M. Edwards, Comparative Occupation Statistics for the United States, 1870 to 1940, part of the Sixteenth Census of the United States: 1940 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1943), p. 121.
81. The 1902 figure is from the 33rd Annual Report of the Massachusetts Bureau of Statistics of Labor, Part IV: “Sex in Industry” (Boston: Wright and Potter, 1902), p. 148. There were 114 male private secretaries and 58 female. The 1926 figure is from the Massachusetts Department of Labor and Industries, “Salaries of Office Employees in Massachusetts,” Annual Report on the Statistics of Labor (1926), Labor Bulletin no. 149. There were 33 male private secretaries and 172 female.
82. Alice Harriet Grady, “Training for Initiative in Secretarial Work,” in Perkins, Vocations for the Trained Woman, p. 212.
83. Nichols, The Personal Secretary, pp. 82–83. My emphasis.
84. Kemper-Adams, Women Professional Workers, pp. 226–29.
1. Michel Crozier, for example, blames mechanization for the degradation of clerical work. Writing about office work in France, he states: “Mechanization and scientific organization have, it is true, completely transformed office work and even sales work. The introduction of accounting machines and then statistical machines has resulted in a series of small industrial revolutions, whose effects are now accelerated with the advent of automation. Since the introduction of these innovations, a split has taken place between highly qualified employees charged with handling matters demanding judgment, experience, and responsibility, and a mass of unskilled employees assigned a series of simple unchanging operations. In the administrative services of banks, insurance companies, or large accounting firms, there have for some time been numerous cases of assembly-line work, sometimes even using conveyor belts.” Michel Crozier, The World of the Office Worker, trans. David Landau (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1971), p. 17.