By Margery Davies

Explores the shift within the context of patriarchal social kin that assigns a sexual divison of work as "natural"

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Additional info for Woman's Place Is at the Typewriter. Office Work and Office Workers, 1870-1930

Example text

To many firms the new machine probably seemed more of an expense than an asset. Furthermore, there was some resistance to typewriting on the grounds of etiquette, as evidenced by the reply to a typed note that a Texas insurance man received from an agent: "I do not think it necessary then, nor will it be in the future, to have your letters to me taken to the printers' and set up like a handbill. " 17 But as the 1880s progressed, the typewriter became a more firmly established piece of office equipment.

But judging from Hower's account, the more rewarding jobs Office Work after the Civil War 50 within the hierarchy-such as copy-writing, accounting, or supervisory positions-went to men. Women were restricted to the clerical work at the bottom of the hierarchy. This short history of the Ayer advertising agency illustrates several developments that began to show up in offices after the Civil War. First of all, an extension of the division of labor resulted not only in the reorganization of firms into functionally defined departments, but also in the division of clerical work within those departments.

Conversely, a clerk in Advertising might be capable of drafting attractive copy but know nothing about collecting overdue bills. The division oflabor at Ayer's did not stop with the creation of departments. Jobs were also divided up within departments. The Copy Department provides a clear example of this. It was originally a part of the Business Department, and its personnel, who procured customers for Ayer's, also helped write advertising copy. Mter 1892, however, the firm began to hire men who concentrated exclusively on writing ads: those who Office Work after the Civil War 41 were adept at drumming up business were often mediocre at writing copy, and vice versa.

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Woman's Place Is at the Typewriter. Office Work and Office Workers, 1870-1930 by Margery Davies


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