Marketing for Romance Writers Magazine July, 2018 Volume # 1, Issue # 7 - Page 25

JULY, 2018 THE IMPACT OF THE TYPEWRITER AT THE TURN OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY By: Liese Sherwood-Fabre The invention of the modern typewriter cre- ated not only a whole new career for Victorian women, but also a new branch of forensics. While machines to print letters had been developed throughout the 19th cen- tury, Christopher Latham Sholes was the first to construct a practical machine. In 1873, he signed a contract with the Rem- ington gunsmiths, and the first typewriters, capable of only capital letters, were sold in 1874. The second model, introduced in 1878, included a shift key that allowed for both capital and lower-case letters. Along with the machine came a whole new profession: the female typist. E. Rem- ington and Sons specifically marketed their product to the daughters of middle-class businessmen, with keys designed for dainty fingers, promoting it as requiring ―no more skill than playing the piano.‖ In short or- der, the typewriter was exported to Eng- land along with the female typist and office worker. While status (middle-class or higher) was a requirement for women to enter office work at first, the door opened for women of other classes as well. By 1911, more than one hundred twenty-five women had gone to work in British offices, an increase of five hundred times the num- ber in 1896. The typewriter also corresponded to a rise in business documents at the turn of the century. Not only did the typewriter create more uniformity and readability in documents, it also created the illusion of anonymity not available with handwriting. Interestingly, a Sherlock Holmes story (―A Case of Identity‖) is the earliest known reference to the peculiarities of each type- writer leading to the machine‘s identity. The story, written in 1891, predates the first known comment by a document ex- aminer that appeared in 1894 and first legal case (Levy v. Rust) in 1893. William Hagan noted that the more typewriters are used, the more distinct the alignment and spe- cific idiosyncrasies of specific letters. A typewriter mechanic pointed out the differ- ences between receipts presented by the plaintiff and those prepared on the defen- dant‘s typewriter were too dissimilar to have been written on the same machine. The judge found for the defendant without citing any previous cases. Following this case, additional decisions recognized the use of typewriting identification as accept- able evidence. While the typewriter has given over to the computer and printers, documents pro- duced on them can still be traced back to the make and model, and even a unique machine. As Holmes noted more than one hundred years ago, typewriters have left their mark—not only on the paper, but on society as a whole. Biography: Liese Sherwood-Fabre obtained her PhD from Indiana University and worked for the federal government, both domestically and internationally, for more than thirty years. Her essays on Victorian England appear monthly in Sherlockian newsletters in five different countries. She is also featured in the spring issue of the Baker Street Journal. As the recipient of several writing awards for her fiction, including a nomination for the Pushcart Prize, New York Times bestselling author Steve Berry has described her writing as "gimmick-free, old- fashioned storytelling." Her current work in progress is a series based on Sherlock Holmes at age thirteen. 25 8