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The changes in working habits sparked off by the introduction of portable typewriters came at the same time as dramatic social changes in the position of women.
  In 1909, when the advertisement shown on the left was published, Remington and Underwood dominated the typewriter market with their standard desk models and most typewriters were heavy machines costing hundreds of dollars. In this ad, the attractive girl stands demurely by a heavy, expensive desk model, on which she will type out the letters of the man for whom she works in an office, somewhere in the commercial district.  Compare the social values of this ad with those of the advertisement  below published in 1923, little more than a decade later.  Not only has the typewriter become small and light enough to hold in one hand but the attractive model no longer portrays the typist but the customer. She is also no longer the demure, hopeful young thing, but has a touch of the femme fatale. And now she is the one asking her own questions, not enduring life in a stuffy male-dominated office. These changes in advertising reflected the social changes that had taken place in a remarkably short time in the real world where changes were, if anything, even more dramatic. In 1885 there was an outcry when the YWCA in New York offered typing courses to young women. Such a course of action, it was argued, would give young women ideas and could lead to them leaving home and leading selfish, hedonistic lives -- perhaps even immoral behaviour. As early as 1919, the Corona Bulletin, above right, was showing the New Woman, screenwriter Margaret Trimmingham, writing on a cliff at Catalina. By the end of the twenties, the press was printing photos such as that below of Miss Katherine MacGregor, typing on her Corona 4.  The worst fears of the blue stockings who opposed typing lessons in 1885 were realised; young women were not only leading their own lives -- they were writing their memoirs about it on their own portable typewriters. An important part of these changes came about because the typewriter enabled women to acquire the skill to earn a living and lead independent lives.  The portable machine took this process a stage further because women -- and men -- were able to own their own machine and run their own small businesses.


Miss Katherine MacGregor, the young woman explorer who was the first white woman to cross the Andes over the Lima-Para trail, who leaves New York today for South America, in search of a "lost world". She will go to the interior of Colombia, by canoe, taking the trail to the interior, with movie cameras, recording the life of the head-hunting and savage tribes. She is a Wisconsin girl, former student of the Columbia School of Journalist. She will hunt big game on the jungles, and take data for a book which she will publish on her return.


 

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       Copyright Richard Milton 2003-2009
          Last revised: 01 October 2006

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