Tuesday, April 24, 2012

"Girl Friday" Series, The Washington Post

A highlight of my adventure into the secret world of the Washington secretary was the discovery of the "Girl Friday" series which debuted in The Washington Post in early 1953. 

Initially penned by Estelle Sharpe Jackson, the column was created in response to the demand for "Girl Fridays." Here, they offer tips for getting the job, keeping the job -- and knowing when to fold your cards and leave.

"Smart Secretary Respects Taboos," July 24, 1953

"Absolute taboos, according to Stella, are sheer nylon blouses, dark-heeled hose, ankle-strapped shoes, 'anything that draws the attention to any part of the anatomy.'

"And -- 'no efficient secretary chews gum,' says she." 

"Nice to Work for a Woman -- Sometimes," Sept. 25, 1953

"If she's asked, Mrs. Peterson will tell aspiring young secretaries that hard work is necessary for advancement in the Government. . .

"She reminds older women that being adaptable is a very important attribute. 'You shouldn't try to do things the way you were taught whether the new boss likes it or not. I think that's one reason that people hesitate to employ older women -- they often become rigid in their ideas and are convinced that their methods are the only right ones."

"'Be a Doormat,' One Success Formula," Oct. 23, 1953

A veteran secretary offers 11 rules to "make your boss happier." The last three caught my attention:

"9. Do some light housekeeping each day. See that ashtrays are clean, pencils sharpened, fountain pen, stapler, cigarette box, lighter all filled and ready to use.

"10. Make a friend of your dictionary. Whenever in doubt about the use of a word, the separation of syllables or the correct spelling, stop and look it up.

"11. Be a doormat. If it irritates you to balance your boss's checkbook, exchange his wife's slippers -- look for another job. If you're not devoted to him, it can't work anyway."

Tomorrow, the 60th Anniversary of National Secretaries Day, I'll feature Vice President Richard Nixon who was the recipient of the 1958 National Secretaries Award "for recognition and understanding of the secretarial profession."

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