The Vault

Picky Bosses’ Pet Peeves About Secretaries, in a 1945 List

Hagley Digital Archives

Drawn from a 1945 pamphlet, Memo: How to Be a Super Secretary, this list of bosses’ pet peeves comes from research done at the behest of Remington Rand’s Typewriter Division. The pamphlet, which has been digitized by the Hagley Museum and Library, is available to read in full in its digital archives.

“You might ask your boss from now until doomsday to help you find your flaws, and still he’d be reluctant to admit you had them,” the pamphlet, framed as inside information for secretaries anxious to curry favor, begins. “Bosses are mighty loyal.” Yet when queried by Remington Rand’s investigator—“Miss Olga Elkhouri, renowned typist and secretary”—the bosses had plenty to say.


In a series of blurbs illustrated by cartoon secretaries (“You save your glamour for evenings”; “You are pleasant, even under strain”; “You are truly humble”; “You hide your light”), the pamphlet outlines ideal secretarial behaviors that we might now recognize as falling into the category of emotional labor. The pet-peeves list is a series of negative observations to complement these affirmative recommendations.

Remington Rand manufactured typewriters starting in 1927. Later, through a series of mergers, the company produced UNIVAC machines, “some of the first commercially available [computers], ahead of more famous firms such as IBM,” according to the Computer History Museum.

I first saw this document, which the Hagley posted on its Tumblr, via John Overholt’s Twitter feed.