Intensive Gregg Shorthand by the McCann Method (1942)

I received this from a used-book seller on amazon, one of those annoyingly frequent cases of ordering one thing and receiving something quite different. Ordinarily, when a mis-listed item ends up in my eager hands, I’m furious. But this time I thought maybe I had something special.

I have great respect for home-grown efforts of this nature—a self-published method banged out on an old typewriter and copied on some primitive mimeograph machine. It was published in a steno pad format. The first page of the intro is missing, and as the pad had to be flipped for continuation the last page of instruction might also be missing.

My “deduction” is that Mr. and/or Mrs. McCann taught shorthand and that this is a compilation of lessons they put together for their classes. There were numerous pencil marks (which I edited out) some of which indicated that this method was indeed used as a text in a classroom setting.

I checked with the seller, and it appears that this was among a box of books that were intercepted at the landfill (where her husband works.) So it just narrowly escaped—and I’m guessing it didn’t have a very large print run to begin with.

In addition to the usual reasons for posting, I thought with as much time and effort as the McCanns must have invested in this project, they deserved another opportunity to demonstrate the merits of their approach. 🙂

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18 comments Add yours
  1. Neat! I like the target speeds for each exercise. I wonder if it follows the exact order of the textbook.

    It doesn't have as much theory and explanation as the manual and Speed Studies. The curves are more symmetrical than the manuals and uses different proportion. (On page 9 /D/ is 2/3 the line height rather than 1/2.) Despite that, it looks like an easy-to-read hand.

    It wouldn't replace the text book if you didn't have a teacher, but it would be enough if you had a teacher.

  2. Awesome book — thank you for making it available. I think it follows the order from the Functional Method manual in the presentation of the word beginnings and endings. The sentences in the paragraphs are so concocted that they are funny. I was amused by Exercise 140.

    The shorthand is not very slanted so the proportions have to be corrected to reflect that, but it's very readable.

    The idea of using ruled paper was ahead of its time. It wasn't until 1985 with the publication of the Gregg Shorthand for the Electronic Office, Short Course, Series 90, that McGraw-Hill used Gregg ruling in their plates.

  3. I don't mean to indicate approbation of the way the shorthand is written, but if you have ever prepared stencils for a mimeograph, you can better understand the constraints in writing anything by hand. Since the book was prepared and issued before the stellar advances in "offset printing" at the beginning of the '60's, I'd say they performed an admirable task. Having no way of knowing, I'd still suspect from the humor shown in many of the lessons that the instructors allowed the students access to various Gregg texts which demonstrated "proper" angle of writing; i.e, I don't believe this would have been the only text used in the classroom.

  4. In addition to the lack of technological means in a low-budget project, clearly the McCanns didn't have Mrs. Richmond to supply outlines. 😉 And frankly the print from the old typewriter isn't so hot either.

    To the extent that this text has any peculiar value, it would be more in the method of approach and examples used. I'll leave the judgment on that to others—though I plan on going through their book, as I need all the help I can get.

    I wonder if some of the other methods published back then originated from similar circumstances. Something like Direct-Method Materials seems to have begun purely on the initiative of one or more committed instructors.

  5. There were a LOT of smudges. There were also spots where it looked like they had tried to erase part of a not-well-crafted outline, and it didn't work so well. I took a few liberties in Photoshop—I figured, we've got the technology now.

    The most numerous glitches were with the e-circles, and even a few a's. There were dozens that weren't visible circles at all, just black splotches with no white space inside.

    My hat's off to them; they were nothing if not determined! 🙂

  6. I retouched a lot of them. It was necessary in some cases to make them recognizable at all. (And I'm sure I missed a few others.) It didn't help that some of the pages were literally disintegrating.

    I've actually been doing this sort of thing for years, digitizing old books and even reprinting them. I have a full setup of machinery for making store quality hard- and soft-cover books. I mean the whole works—laminator, creaser, electric cutter, glue binder, hard cover maker, monogram press, etc. I never thought I'd have a chance to preserve an old Gregg shorthand book though. 🙂

  7. I have to agree. The outlines in the Gregg books were photographed and typeset, and mistakes covered by writing on a pasted piece of paper over the mistake. For this book, my bet is that they wrote stencils for mimeograph. Writing on a stencil is not a very easy thing to do, and the stylus can be a pain in the neck. I'm impressed that they don't show smudges in the outlines. That's good enough for me.

  8. Indeed. There's a book called Gregg Shorthand by the Scientific Method, which was typewritten and the outlines are not so pretty, but is a nice book nonetheless.

    Noawadays with so many image manipulation programs, you can make a mistake and correct it easily.

  9. Hey cricket. Unfortunately, all of my book-making equipment is residing in a storage bin. We fell on hard times in early 2008—an all too familiar story. We had to downsize to a small abode, with no space for our press equipment.

    And the worst part was, that the whole mess disrupted my shorthand study for two years.

    But we were indeed publishing old books that had fallen into the Public Domain, and we did publishing on-demand—which constituted most of our business. Some of the books we made for clients were being sold on amazon. Someday, we'll be back. And next time we may have a few shorthand books in the mix.  😉

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