Contents

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p. ix

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Introduction

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pp. 1-15

Returning to his office from an out-of-town job as a legal stenographer, Mr. Carossal finds himself at the scene of a murder committed in an adjacent office building. Horatio Kabb, a bookkeeper for a stockbrokerage firm, the J. B. Grafton Company, has been found “tumbled head-foremost half way down the K Street stairs, sprawling face downward in a pool of blood.” Kabb has been “shot through the lungs, from the front, and at close range,” and the company...

I. Initial Hooks

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1. Performing Independence: Male Clerks, Bookkeepers, and Stenographers from 1820 to 1870

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pp. 17-43

Shorthand has a long history going back to the ancient Greeks and Egyptians but it did not spread across the West until the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Europeans brought it to the New World, where some colonists—like Roger Williams; John Winthrop Jr. and his wife, Martha; ministers; and some court personnel—wrote shorthand. In the eighteenth century...

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2. Treasury Girls and the Masses: From Degraded Women Workers to Employees

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pp. 44-68

..disclosed the dark side of government clerking, treasury courtesans, even when ostensibly exonerating them: “The majority of them are [ladies], but it is a melancholy fact that many of them are either suspected of immoral practices, or looked down upon by the Washingtonians as being of a lower order.”1 Ellis’s division of women government employees into either socially respectable...

II. Final Hooks

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3. Stepping-Stones and Short Ladders: Men's Faltering Independence

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pp. 71-94

A 1901 article referring to office malcontents cited a bookkeeper who lamented “the mistake of my life when I learned to keep books.” He explained, “I was a good bookkeeper at 25 and was proud of it. I am a good bookkeeper now at 50 and am ashamed to tell anybody that I am a bookkeeper. Draftsmen talk the same way, and stenographers, [too].” The article’s author...

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4. The Male Stenographer's Solution: The Language of Professionalism

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pp. 95-128

On 23 May 1878, C. C. Herr of Bloomington, Illinois, fired off a letter to Browne’s Phonographic Monthly in response to an article in the, Shorthand Review praising the Scovil system of shorthand. Herr derided “the idea of comparing the speed of a system of shorthand by the number of lines” as “trying to mislead the poor little innocents.” In contrast, he tallied the number of...

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5. Typewriter Girls and Lady Stenographers: The Challenges of Respectability

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pp. 129-159

In 1887, M. Jeannette Ballantyne, a New York court reporter, onceagain addressed the annual meeting of the New York State Stenographers’ Association (NYSSA). Miss Ballantyne had been invited to speak more often than any other female and most male speakers. Frequently, she discussed women court reporters. The year before, she had presented a strong case for the “ap-...

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6. "My Fondest Hopes Will Have Been Realized": Independence, Ambition, and the New Woman

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pp. 160-189

To Hinckle, who had carried on a spirited defense of women’s right to work in the courts in 1893, this poem asserted the potential of office and court work for self-support, a true alternative to marriage.2 For her and others at the close of the nineteenth century, stenography offered opportunities for women by claiming a feminine version of independence under the banner of the New...

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7. Performances of Professionalism

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pp. 190-218

In early August 1892, the Indiana State Stenographers’ Association met for its fourth annual meeting in the “parlors of the Denison House.” Despite the absence of many of the “most active members,” numerous local stenographers attended. The first day began with a welcome address from Professor L. H. Jones, superintendent of the city schools, followed by a response...

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Epilogue

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pp. 219-232

The discourses that developed at the end of the nineteenth century among court reporters and business stenographers continued even into the twenty-first century, despite changes in both the courts and offices. Court reporting retained its gender balance of manly professionalism well into the twentieth century. Business stenographers struggled to maintain the professional...

Notes

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pp. 233-300

Appendix

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pp. 301-316

Index

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pp. 317-324