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The typewriter for many was a tool of convenience, greatly accelerating business and creative expression. But for others, it was a tool for overcoming disability. What can be known of Lennie Hagewood, described as “deaf, dumb, and blind,” is limited to one mention in The Stenographer, but her story is worth mentioning again.

The Stenographer (Philadelphia), August 1899 –

© 2021, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.


Typewriter scene from 1910 silent film

This scene is found in “From Bethlehem to Somers Town,” which was released in 1910. The clip is only about three seconds and is featured twice: once at normal speed, once in slow motion.

© 2021, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.


Typewriter film shown in India (1912)

The earliest film featuring a typewriter appears to date to 1905: “The Broker’s Atheltic Typewriter,” a comedic short that I blog about here. (If anyone knows of an earlier film, please email at netadams @ gmail). My research has yielded a few other finds, including a (lost?) 1911 film recounting the history and manufacture of the Remington typewriter (see post here). That film apparently was shown throughout the world, including in Calcutta, India:

Bulletin of Photography (Philadelphia), October 23, 1912 –

© 2021, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.


The typewriter in moving pictures (1911)

This lost film featured the Remington typewriter. (If anyone knows about it, let me know: netadams @ gmail).

The Typewriter and Phonographic World (New York), November 1911 –

Second page:

For a larger view of the images above, click here.

© 2021, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.


Earliest applications: 1873 through 1875

Image from a business listing for Porter’s National Telegraph College in late 1873. Note the gentleman operating a Sholes & Glidden Type Writer in the bottom left corner.

Copies made

People employed the Sholes & Glidden Type Writer for business applications as early as 1873, the year the machine was introduced. Porter’s National Telegraph College advertised copying services in February that year, one month before the machine would be manufactured under contract by E. Remington & Sons. These early advertisements emphasize the typewriter as a copying device, though news reports and sales literature also envisioned it as a writing machine.

This blog posting chronicles advertisements for typewriting services, not the machine itself, and continues work begun here – The Early Typists (January 3, 2019), which includes advertisements dating from 1876, a period when such work was quite common.

Ads from 1873

Chicago Tribune, February 10, 1873 –

Porter’s National Telegraph College placed the following advertisement in The Representative Business Houses of Chicago, a listings directory, which was published sometime in the latter half of 1873. The engraving on page 66 was shared with Western Electric Manufacturing Co., which advertised its services on page 72 (not page 74 as indicated by the directory under the engraving).

The engraving:

Listing for Western Electric Manufacturing Company, agents for the Sholes & Glidden Type Writer.

Ads from 1874

The St. Louis Republican, November 1, 1874 –

Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester), September 24, 1874 –

Ads from 1875

The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 31, 1875 –

Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), April 19, 1875 –

The Indianapolis News, June 16, 1875 –

New York Daily Herald, August 6, 1875 –

The Indianapolis News, October 28, 1875 –

Soon, employers were seeking both men and women as typists. There may well be earlier instances, but these advertisements are the earliest I’ve found seeking women as typists.

The Indianapolis News, November 20, 1875 –

New York Daily Herald, December 5, 1875 –

New York Daily Herald, December 8, 1875 –

New York Daily Herald, December 22, 1875 –

© 2021, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.