Here is the cover to either the Valentine’s issue or, according to the subscriber Maria Napolitano,1 the Metallurgical issue of Today’s Secretary magazine. The magazines’s regular features included phrases such as “the working mother is still on trial,” or “drink your way down the scale with four liquid meals a day,” 2 or “sometimes a secretary’s social life is so exhausting that her job become a mere meal ticket.” I could go on all day like this – there is easily enough material here for a grad seminar in post-Eisenhower gender roles or feminist epistemology. Or perhaps enough material for an episode of Mad Men.
Today’s Secretary, published by the Gregg Publishing Division of McGraw Hill, began in 1950 as a continuation of the venerable Gregg Writer and was published until May 1982.3 These 1961–62 issues, art directed by Rita Huffaker and gloriously printed in four colors (although except for some of the ads only two at a time), are simply chock full of mid-century illustration and design.
The focal point of each issue, located in the center of the magazine and keyed to the cover design, was the Good Looks Section (in a secretarial magazine). It’s not exactly Liberman and Vogue, or Brodovitch and Harper’s, but still:
Of course a magazine is ultimately about advertising. In this case a demographic of young women...
...who bought office supplies...
... and, on occasion, even typewriters. Including this technical marvel advertised in the Oct 1961 issue:
1. Aside from the address label, I have absolutely no information on Maria Napolitano. However, it’s probably safe to assume that she was a secretary and that she appeared rather well organized. This folded page from the Autumn 1959 Modern Bride was found in her Mar 1961 TS issue:
Based on her annotations, perhaps she was getting married? Or maybe she was a bridesmaid? Or maybe this was entirely someone else’s clipping? We'll never know.
2. Larkin, Kathy. "The Truth about those Liquid Diets." Today’s Secretary. 1962 Mar 64(7): 40–41. Although the article does explain the drawbacks of such diets, esp. for those with diabetes, heart disease or kidney trouble, it really is mostly a how-to guide. The concepts exercise or sensible eating are never brought up. Now that your humble narrator has though about it, things haven’t really changed, have they?
3. Here is the publication data, abstracted from the Harvard Libraries' Union List of Serials: The Gregg Writer. New York, Gregg Publishing Co. Apr. 20, 1899 (v.1) – June 1950 (v. 52), published monthly, except July and Aug. Continued by Today’s Secretary. New York, Gregg/McGraw Hill. Sept. 1950 (v. 53) – May 1982 (v. 84, no. 8).
9 May 2010 ‧ Design