My Dream Job: Secretary Extraordinaire

So I couldn’t help but expound upon one of our garage sale purchases from this past weekend. The 1935 Secretary’s Desk Book! I saw it in a flea market and just thought it was one of the best old books I’d ever seen. I love the aesthetic of old books, but I hate the idea of buying them just because they’re old. I want books that I’ve read, that I want to read, or to which I can relate. So how do I relate to a secretary? Oh, no, “administrative assistant.” Gotta keep it pc.

Well, I just might like to be one. For anyone who doesn’t know me, I’m very detail-oriented and love to organize everything…well, mostly other peoples’ things. I am a HUGE list maker and a big fan of using proper grammar, good diction, and correct punctuation, though the blog may not be the best indicator of that as I write it in a more casual, conversational tone. I don’t want you to feel like you’re reading a term paper, do I? Anyway, here it is in all its glory on my coffee table, along with the two fossils we purchased this weekend. The Housing Reclaimed book was a gift from my aunt. 

Let me just share with you a few of my favorite parts. Inside the front cover there is a very useful and slightly humorous list of rules for the proper care and use of the eyes and care of books from the Kemper Military School. Ironic, because as I was flipping through the book I found myself breaking a few of the rules, specifically “Do not wet your fingers to turn a leaf.” Oops!

Here are a few other favorites:

  • Let the doctor treat your eyes. You can not do it yourself.
  • If your doctor tells you to wear glasses, wear them.
  • Never touch a book unless your hands are dry and clean.
  • Do not mark books, except as directed.

Well now that we know how to care for our eyes and the books, let’s dig in. The Secretary’s Desk Book is complete with helpful likely outdated information on punctuation, the proper use of italics (how does one use italics on a typewriter?), diction, idiom, writing business letters, and so much more. It even has a dictionary in the back. Also, there’s a very useful section on words not to use in a letter. This is, by far, my favorite section in the book.

Here are the ones I thought were particularly funny. From the picture above:

According to our records: Everyone knows that you get information from your records.

At hand: Trite.

Attached find: If anything is attached to the letter, say attached is. Of course it will be found. Haha…very true.

Hand you: Send you is clearer. How can one hand anything to another in a letter? I suppose one cannot.

I have before me your letter: Your correspondent does not care where you have his letter.

In re: Has no place in an English letter.

In reply wish to state: Go ahead and say it. (I appreciate the bluntness.)

Permit me to say: You may say anything you please on paper, without permission. (Hehe.)

I think if I were a secretary I would have much preferred it to be in 1935 rather than present day. No computers or cell phones to keep schedules or write bibliographies for you (Ok, who am I kidding? Those are awesome!). I would love to use a typewriter, though. Oh, except I don’t like the feel of paper….well, I guess I am better suited for the time in which I live. So for now I’m content to have this little piece of history from a very important (but possibly dying) profession on my coffee table.


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