Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Women Typing

Today's picture is from 1937 and shows a large room of women typing. They women are typing social security cards. It is pretty amazing how many people it took to do simple things that we take for granted these days. I can not imagine a more boring job that sitting and typing numbers on cards all day.


  1. This went on for quite some time. My first Social Security card - around 1958 - was hand-typed. And you are correct; there can't possibly be a more boring job!

  2. I still have my original Social Security card from 1953, and it is hand-typed. However, with respect to finding typing boring, I have to disagree.

    I absolutely LOVE to type - I find it relaxing and soothing, because everything is so orderly. Before I stopped working five years ago to care for my mother, I was a paralegal for a patent lawyer. I used to love to type lengthy patent applications - I’d put on my headphones and shut everyone and everything out. It was great.

    Of course, typing on a computer with spell check is a lot different than typing cards on a mechanical typewriter. Nonetheless, I was an English major in college back in the early 1970s; and I made it through all of those long literary analysis term papers using an electric typewriter and white-out with no problems. Word processors were still in the distant future.

    We didn’t miss what we didn’t know. I still love to type - letters, whatever. I’m always looking for excuses to type things up.

  3. Notice the old radiator heating systems, and open window air conditioning, lighting, high ceilings, and wood floors. I'll bet this was a very noisy room.

  4. And so little space per person! At least give them enough room to hang up a Dilbert cartoon!

  5. My wife and I are new to your sight!! Awsome job. Keep up the good work!!

  6. I still have those cast iron steam radiators in my house, which was built in 1932.

    I've done extensive remodeling, including central air conditioning and a new furnace, but I've never removed those radiators.

    Three heating contractors told me to leave them alone. I can assure you that they provide much better heat than modern baseboard or hot air. It's moist and it's HOT. Once those suckers heat up, they stay that way for hours.

    And . .. .they go with the style of the house, it was built to have them. We put decorative covers on them and they're fine. They're great for warming up your towels while you're in the shower.
    I love them.

    Newer is not always better.

  7. I especially like the double-breasted suit on the supervisor standing in the middle of the floor.

    My mother graduated from secretarial school and went to work in an office in 1938, so this would have been the same type of environment that she worked in.

    She loved her job.

  8. Ms 156 in the third row seems to be the only one really earning her pay!

  9. I bet the hand typed cards last much longer than necessary because of Government union jobs.
    For example they installed a modern elevator in the House of Representatives in the early 70's so no longer needed an elevator operator, but because it was a union job, they forced to keep the operator anyway.
    Speaking of typing, when I was in High School, we had typing classes where we learned how to type different forms of business letters and other practical things which were useful whether on the job or for personal business. (There were also business classes where students learned basics of accounting.) I don't see young people leaving school with these basic life skills anymore.
    My grandmother went to secretarial school in the early 20's and was a very successful secretary and bookeeper.

  10. Wow, four women per desk. That is crowded working space. I bet maximum output per square foot was high though!

  11. This was, of course, when everyone was getting their first Social Security Numbers. It wasn't until the middle of Roosevelt's presidency in the Depression that the Social Security system was developed. So there wouldn't NORMALLY have been so many cards to type all at once. This was unprecedented work!

  12. This could not possibly be a boring job.

    The numbers are always changing.


    P.S. I have my original social security card as well.

  13. Well spotted Downtown Indy.
    She sure looks like she is working quickly.

  14. Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

  15. Old-world was so refreshing. Excellent work. I defend the typewriter, however. It is lot better than replacing man with machine.

  16. In 1966 in high school I had a summer job in a room that looked almost exactly like this. All women typing with one man in charge of all of us. Grocery stores mailed in the handwritten reports of how many of each type of canned ham they had sold. My job was to take those handwritten reports and type them onto sheets.
    I've always enjoyed typing but this is very tedious factory work, not typing as some of the commenters have described it.
    I was always tempted to type in a few wrong numbers and see if anyone would ever, ever notice or the world be changed if I incorrectly reported 8 canned smoked 5 pound hams instead of 6 having been sold in a small market somewhere.


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