Flirting, smoking and VERY short skirts: Photos of secretaries from the Thirties to the Swinging Sixties reveal office culture of decades past
21:35 GMT, 6 September 2012
A series of photographs capturing secretaries at work from the Thirties through to the Swinging Sixties demonstrate some of the daring styles that were in vogue decades ago.
From miniskirts to kitten heels, the young corporate helpmates model a range of liberating office wear while heavy eye-make up and rouged lips complete the sexually empowered style as demonstrated by characters such as Joan Holloway in the hit AMC series Mad Men.
But it's not just the dress code that has changed over the years, and the action shots showcase a range of practices that would be frowned upon in the workplace today, such as smoking, drinking and outright flirting.
Scroll down for video
Appropriate attire A teenage girl gets to grips with the office equipment in a tiny skirt and white go-go boots
Can I help Telephones became increasingly commonplace during the Twenties and Thirties – in 1929 President Herbert Hoover had a phone installed at his desk in the White House
Health hazard: For decades smoking at work was commonplace, however in 1998 a number of countries enforced a ban preventing the practice
While the men photographed appear to be in their mid-to late thirties all of the women are considerably younger, as it was traditional for women to quit
their jobs once married and with children.
Washington correspondent Eleanor Clift who worked as a Newsweek secretary during the Sixties told The Daily Beast: 'Women weren’t supposed to be openly ambitious in the ’60s.
I started at Newsweek As a secretary, I was thrilled to be where what I
typed was interesting. I was the daughter of immigrants, my father had a
deli, and my mother made the potato salad and rice pudding.'
The thigh's the limit! A blonde-haired woman stands by a filing cabinet in a scarlet mini dress
Under pressure: One woman calmly listens to a caller while another lets the stress get to her
On call: A secretary exposes some thigh as she mans the phone at an advertising agency in Soho, London
of the archive shots shows a young lady perched on the edge of her desk
taking a telephone call with a short dress revealing ample thigh, while
another woman sits typing unaware that her stockings are on display.
Other images capture boss / secretary
relationships – often a source of office gossip. In the Mad Men series
Joan had a brief affair with her boss Roger Sterling while in the fifth
season advertising executive Don Draper married his secretary, Megan.
Clift admits she was also guilty of indulging in an office romance,
stating that at the time she 'was living with a television director I
had met at a previous job working as a secretary at ad agency Albert
One archive shot
shows a 51-year-old Albert Einstein in his attic flat in Berlin,
siting a good distance away from his conservatively dressed
secretary while dictating a scientific paper.
To close for comfort A businessman gives his secretary a lingering glance before leaving the office
Ready for action: Women did all sorts of jobs
during the 1960s, but some of the most common jobs were teacher, nurse,
secretary, typist, bookkeeper and shop assistant
Well seated: Two female assistants get comfortable on some retro-style furniture
Gadget proud: A secretary admires a new three-inch-high, eight-pound portable typewriter (left) while a secretary works an early version of the fax machine (right)
Role model: Actress Barbara Hale – best known for her role as legal secretary Della Street on the Perry Mason television series – pictured at her desk
However another shows a male
executive admiring his scantily clad female assistant as he decides to relocate outdoors as a heatwave hits.
to a study released earlier this year more job descriptions are using
the word 'secretary' thanks to Mad Men reigniting the appeal of the
Ray Weikal, communications specialist at
the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP), which conducted the research, noted
that for years the term used to describe an administrative assistant
had been on the decline, due in part to the feminist movement.
He told the Business Insider: 'The title secretary started to go out of fashion after World War II.
'The association was formed as a way
of professionalizing secretarial work.
Relocation: A boss and his secretary move their office outside for the day
Technological aids: Telephones became increasingly easier to operate over the years and inventions such as the Beoton telephone amplifier allowed office workers to type and make a phone call at the same time
Conservative look: Two women opt for more modest attire with button up collars
Inspirational boss: A picture from 1930 shows Albert Einstein dictating a scientific paper to his conservatively dressed secretary in his attic flat in Berlin
'The idea was to encourage
professional development. After World War II, there was a stigma
attached to the title secretary, so many people preferred to be called
to Weikal the shift continued with the rise of feminism and women's
rights movements, adding: 'With the cultural change of the 1950s
through the 1970s, women increasingly wanted to have titles that better
reflected their status as fully professional members of their office
But now the IAAP
reports that in the past two years, the number of workers who have
secretary in their job title has almost doubled.
Weikal said experts are deeming it the 'Mad Men' effect as there is no rational data to explain the trend.
In the spotlight: A woman wears a flesh-exposing ensemble as she sets to work at a typewriter
Hard at work: Three women cram into a tiny office space