Swem & Tarr in the NYT

Here are some PDFs of old New York Times articles that mention Charles Lee Swem and Salome Lanning Tarr.

Aug. 3, 1912 – Girl Typist’s Speed Surprises Wilson; Salome Tarr Takes His 6,000-Word Speech at the Rate of 150 Words a Minute.
(And she was just 19.)

Aug. 25, 1912 – Is Speed Stenography a Gift or Hard Work?
(Fascinating article, also features Paula E. Werning.)

Jan. 16, 1913 – Miss Tarr Gone For Good?
(Miss Tarr evidently didn’t take kindly to Mr. Swem’s admonishing her on the speed of her work. Anyone know how this turned out? I assume she came back—this is when Wilson had been elected but not yet inaugurated.)

Feb. 26, 1913 – Picks Star Stenographer
(Pres. Wilson picks Swem as chief stenographer!)

Mar. 7, 1913 – Pres. Wilson searches for a replacement for Miss Tarr.
(She couldn’t work in the White House, because women stenographers were unknown there.)

Jan. 17, 1913 – Jasper Entertains Wilson
(Jasper was a trained dog. There’s just a passing reference to Swem & Tarr here, about how impressed they were at the dog’s typing speed. Errrrrr, yeah . . .)

The Gregg Writer (on google books) has an article about Miss Tarr entitled “Miss Tarr Wins National Fame as Governor Wilson’s Stenographer.

(by Joel for group greggshorthand)


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13 comments Add yours
  1. She has to be the only girl I've ever heard of being named "Salome." Struck me as odd when I first saw her name in the Gregg Reporting Shortcuts book. Named after the girl who wanted John the Baptist's head on a plate in the Bible. Interesting articles, Chuck. 🙂

  2. Thanks for the catch—a slightly embarrassing erratum. 🙂 I hope eventually to correspond with you in Esperanto a bit more fluently.

    Please accept a long overdue thanks for your remarkable Gregg site. You helped me get started in the right direction (along with this group!) and I'm very grateful.

  3. Both writers have the same position, but they caught Miss Tarr at an awkward-looking point in the page-turning cycle, with some pages already written. Swem is at the top of the first page.

    Back then, women needed visibility. Yes, it's not that remarkable that a woman could do as well (although her having the time and encouragement to learn, and the perseverance to get the job above the more-accepted competition was), but the public needed proof that women could do it. I suspect many young women held this in front of their fathers' noses, "See, women can do it!"

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