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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • THE ARTIST'S GARDEN BY CLAUDE MONET

The Typist: 1917

The Typist: 1917

January 24, 1917. "Ethel Selansky, 15 years old. Typist for Standard Neckwear Co., 91 Essex Street, Boston." Photograph by Lewis Wickes Hine. View full size.

 

Quick finger

I wonder if that is a 'qwerty' or alphabetic keyboard. Qwerty's were made specifically to slow down typists on the old mechanical machines so they wouldn't jam the letter rods together. Anyone who's ever used an old Royal knows how annoying it is to have to keep reaching up to untangle them because you hit two or more keys at once.

Four-in-hand tie

The "fad" was likely the four-in-hand tie itself, which at this point in time was being marketed to the working classes at a price they could afford. These might have even been clip-on or pre-knotted for men who didn't know how to tie one.

She probably does her hair herself. Her mother would have been able to start the curls higher, and, although there were falls and hairpieces available at the time at a price even a poor girl could afford, those curls are imperfect enough to be natural and the hair is obviously of the same texture as hers - which isn't easy even now.

I bet her back was sore after a day of typing. We had an old typewriter at home of about the same provenance; the amount of force you had to apply to each key and the hunched-over stance you had to take to use it meant that your shoulder muscles would be screaming at the end of three or four hours, let alone nine or ten.

The Latest Fad

Has anyone figured out what "Latest Fad" is on the placard behind the young lady's typewriter?

[Neckwear-related. Something about four-in-hands. - Dave]

Etta Selansky, 1910

1910 census for Boston shows an Etta Selansky living on Dalrymple Street in Boston. Parents are Russian immigrants.

Curls

I wonder how many nights she (or her mother or sister) spent wrapping her hair in rags so she would look like this the next morning. We used to call them Shirley Temple curls.

Mystified by "office equipment"

Any idea what the metal frame on the grate above the desk does? Is it for papers, or part of "Neckwear" manufacturing?

The Girl with the Curls

I wonder how many Saturday afternoons young Ethel spent in the picture palace watching Mary Pickford and figuring out how to perfect her hairstyle.

 
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