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Lillian Sholes: Not necessarily the “first typewriter girl”

Lillian Sholes operating one of the original “type writers,” a Sholes & Glidden machine. The photo dates to around 1872. The Type Writer, as it was then known, was introduced to market in 1874.

Touted as the “first typewriter girl,” Lillian Sholes was much more. According to collector Peter Weil, Sholes aided her father in the design of the machine and was instrumental in bringing it to Remington for production under contract. She did not necessarily regard herself as the “first typewriter girl” — certainly, not as one who made the typewriter her profession.

“My sister objects to being spoken of as a typewriter operator,” explained Louis Sholes, “and as a matter of truth, she never became a regular operator of the machine, although she may be considered to have been the first girl who ever operated a genuine typewriter.”

As regards the first professional typists — male and female — that distinction is said to be held by James O. Olephine (male) and M.A. Saunders (female — she is always to be listed as “M.A.”). Both employed the typewriter professionally from the earliest days of the invention.

The article below includes many fascinating details about these pioneers of the typewriter.

From The Gazette (Cedar Rapids), Feburary 15, 1905 —

© 2019, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • John Cooper June 21, 2019, 12:48 pm

    If I ever make it back to Buffalo, I’m going to look for that typewriter!

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