Wednesday, June 22, 2011

When it comes to notes I want a shorthand....

What?  Those aren't the lyrics to that Pointer Sisters song? :D

Now here's a topic that utterly fascinates me because I honestly don't know much about it.  I am humbled to say that they still taught shorthand (or stenography) when I was in high school, although the only girls (yeah, no guys took this class!) that took it were those who knew they were on the "secretarial" track for work after high school.

Shorthand is cool.  I like the "secret message"-ness of it.  This is quite culture-centric of me, but I always thought that Americans were the only ones who used shorthand.  This notion, of course, is ridiculous.  Looking at the Wikipedia entry for shorthand, one can find the Ancient Greek, Japanese, Chinese, European AND U.S. shorthand histories.

Most of us here in the U.S. are probably most familiar with the Gregg method of shorthand, which uses only thin lines in different lengths (as opposed to the Pittman method, which uses thick AND thin lines to distinguish sounds).  Here is a Gregg Writer magazine I picked up somewhere along my ephemera journey.  Inside are all sorts of articles pertaining to the "modern" secretary:  how to dress, how to behave (i.e., no crying at work!), decorum, etc.  It's 75 years old and I LOVE that!

A couple of weeks ago, I found this teeny little shorthand dictionary at an estate sale for a buck.  The woman's address label is still inside the front cover and I can just imagine this little dictionary hiding in a corner of her desk at work, probably well-used at first and then, as the 1963 turned into the 70s and 80s, being buried beneath computer manuals.  Such is the way of the office in the latter third of the last century.

I haven't used these squiggles often but I know I will eventually - I did do a little pendant with shorthand and a pen nib from Esterbrook called the "Gregg" - see how ubiquitous it used to be?  :D


  1. I still use shorthand, when the computer doesn't want to move quickly enough.

  2. You're lucky, Judith! I never learned how. Where did you learn? :D

  3. I have a couple really old shorthand textbooks, if you're interested. They're an interesting relic of another era.

    1. Hello. I am interested in the shortand textbooks. My mail es
      I'm from Argentina.
      Thank you!

  4. Your opening line cracked me up! My mom was visiting recently and when I pulled out an old Gregg shorthand book for an order, she had fun seeing how much she could remember!

  5. However did I miss this!? I love shorthand, but don't know it. It's one regret I have. I learned to type despite our nuns advising against it - I was in the "academic" program - it remains one of my most important skills! I wish I'd have had the wherewithal to have taken shorthand, too!

  6. If you want to learn a really fast and very easy shorthand, I would recommend searching for Paragon shothand at It's from about 1900 and nobody's even heard of it any more, but I've learnt it and it's the only one I'll ever use now. I struggle with Gregg for absolutely ages, but I gave up with it because of all the principles, execeptions, abbreviations, short forms, and general memory load. Check it out and see what you think. Good luck!