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School for Secretaries: 1920

School for Secretaries: 1920

1920. "Washington School for Secretaries. Typing room." Note the Dictaphone in the middle. Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.


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Looking for Washington School for Secretaries Alumni

I would love to talk to alumni of the venerable Washington School for Secretaries for The Washington Secretaries History Project. If you are interested in sharing your memories, please email me at Thank you. Lillian Cox

Memories of Secretarial School

I attended a secretarial school in 1963 in NYC and we were all a bit surprised to come to typing class the first day only to see that our typewriters had BLANK keyboards -- the best way to learn "touch" typing was just that -- NO peeking at the letters or numbers on the keyboard. Funny thinking back to those days but I learned to be a really good typist!

1986 Graduate

I'm so happy I found this! Very good memories.

Washington Secretarial Class of 1958-59

I am an honor graduate of the old WSS -- I could do shorthand at 140 and could type on a manual 85 wpm and on an electric easily over 100 wpm and those were 15 minute tests with two errors or less! I got a great job, made good money and still have these skills to this day. Our director, Adria Beaver Lynham, was one for the books. She made us toe the mark in every way -- we had to wear long line girdles, no "bedroom" hair, just totally professionals. Young ladies walked briskly down F Street -- there was to be no "strolling."

Thanks for the memories!

1970 Graduate of the WSS

The WSS gave me a firm foundation on which to build my career in the business world. Excellent training! At the time I attended, the intense, one-year course was equivalent to a two-year associates degree in business administration at a community college. I shall always remember the hats, heals heels and gloves. Everyone in WDC knew you were a WSS student at one glance. I attended the school when it was in the National Press Building, a very exciting location and when it was still a privately owned school. I believe a computer company bought the school the following year.

Remington # 2, 6, 7

Interesting to see this shot on Shorpy, as our theatre company is putting on a production which requires three vintage Remingtons (any of the above models) as they were all "understrike" machines -- the keys hit the paper under the roller rather then the front of the roller. This of course meant that you couldn't see what you were typing. My life as a props buyer this season has been pretty interesting trying to come up with them. I have found two, and need only one more.

I Will Never Forget!!!!

OMG!!!! What a wonderful experience I had in 1982. I attended WSS when it was on 2020 K St. What a shock to see that so many others still remember.

There you are!

I am a 1975 graduate of WSS. I was very proud of my accomplishments and success at WSS. I have looked over the years for information about the school. When did it close and what happened to all of the equipment and pictures. I remember graduation dance.

1968 WSS graduate

I have been looking for info on WSS but never seemed to find anything. Glad I ran across this. I attended WSS when it was in the National Press Building. Was in class there at the time of the 1968 riots in D.C. Good memories and the beginning of a long secretarial career.

Wonder if they still make female students wear hats and gloves?

I loved my time at WSS

I am a 1983 graduate of the WSS (Exec Sec/Admin Assist program) and really enjoyed my year in their program. The location was 2020 K Street at the time. Although we had electric typewriters, the classroom was set up just as it was in the 1920 picture above.


I learned on an adding machine that didn't look that much newer than the model in the picture. And when my father started his business, my mother bought a second-hand (or third- or fourth-hand) typewriter to type his invoices that didn't look all that much younger than the ones here. I bet she's still got it.

Ah, the memories - -

of shaving the wax off used Dictaphone cylinders; learning to use the Comptometer (prehistoric adding machine); pounding away on those huge black baby buggies that posed as typewriters; hitting the lever of the work easel to keep the copy at eye level. Now guess how old I am. Yech.

Home Row

Oh how I remember typing class in high school. The symbols were not on the typing keys and you would rely on that old pull-down in front of the class to know where you were, but at exam time the pull-down (like a window blind) would go up and if you didn't know where your home row was or the other letters you may as well leave the room. Aw ... yes, and that ol' typewriter song comes back to me as well!

Open to Receive Students

1920 appears to have been the opening year for the Washington School for Secretaries

(click to enlarge)

Oh, the noise!

My ears are ringing just thinking about how noisy this room must have been when class was in session. I also note that there is one lonely adding machine among all the typewriters.

How many songs...

Can you get on one of those Dictaphones? Also gives new meaning to the phrase ear-tubes.

Joe from LI, NY

Alice Adams

This makes me think of the very depressing end of "Alice Adams" when she has to climb up the stairs to the secretarial school. Now I know why she didn't want to go.

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