from your computer and imagine a world where
all office-related functions were done by hand,
and every document was unique,
produced one at a time, and stored physically
beside your desk.
Working in an office 50 years ago
was a completely
different world than it is today. The "office"
in the Onoway Museum
gives a hint of what it might have been like.
Start with a wooden desk (not
necessarily oak), a wooden padded chair (if you
were lucky) and a wooden filing
cabinet. If you were the boss, there was
probably a large pedestal ashtray
right there beside the desk.
was typed on a manual
typewriter. White bond paper was used and to
make copies, a sheet of black
carbon paper was inserted between two sheets.
Trying to correct a typing error
was painful, if indeed it were possible! The
final copy would then be signed
with pen and ink. The fountain pen with its
hidden ink cartridge was a huge
step forward from the straight pen which could
result in a blot if there was
too much ink on the nib. Then the signature was
gently touched with blotting
paper so that it would not smudge.
If there was a
secretary in the office, she might have
taken Typewriting in high school where, not only
would you learn to type
without looking at the keys, but how to "throw"
efficiently to increase the words-per-minute.
McTavish Business College in
Edmonton was the major
training centre for those interested in careers
in business. Textbooks
addressed not only accounting and typing skills
but how your letter could
create the best image possible by such important
details as using correct
spacing and greetings.
Reckoner might also be in the office. This
small book fit in the palm of the
hand and contained all the calculations
necessary for everyday business: amount
owed for any quantity of merchandise at any
price, wages by the day/week/month,
measurement of timber, etc.
pens with a clip to hold it in
your jacket pocket meant that you
sign a document anywhere.
on manual typewriters
could type 100+ wpm.
paper used to make copies
Computers and digitization have
replaced that world – and also the many people
employed in it!