From typewriters to touch screens, a spotlight on the past

By Lauren Lavelle

An Anderson shorthand typewriter with 14 keys is one of the many typewriters preserved from Rider’s early years.

Before there were laptops and iPads, Rider’s College of Business Administration depended on typewriters. Those same typewriters, dating back to the 1800s, are now on display in Moore Library.

The exhibit features decades worth of items, including Rider’s historic collection of over 90 business machine typewriters.

“The title of the exhibit is ‘Spotlight on Special Collections,’” said Julia Telonidis, Moore Library’s archives specialist. “A couple times a year, we like to update the display in the lobby to keep things interesting and fresh.”

The exhibit started off with an introduction to the origins of the typewriter collection which began in 1960 under the leadership of Rider’s first archivist, Edith Wright.

Many of the typewriters were found or donated by alumni to be preserved and featured in the collection, including a Sholes and Glidden typewriter, one of the most prominent typewriters of its time.

“It’s the first commercial typewriter,” said Rider archivist and librarian Robert Congleton. “There were only about 5,000 models sold, and we acquired it around 1876. Schulz is the inventor of what we call the chorded keyboard so the keyboard everyone has on their phones comes from this one. Everyone’s keyboards date back to 1874.”

A typewriter from World War II is also prominently displayed, accompanied by a letter asking for permission to acquire it and feature it in the collection.

“The Triumph typewriter was seized during World War II in Germany from the German forces and brought here,” said Telonidis. “The donor was probably aware that we had a typewriter collection and felt like this would be a good home for it.”

Two other components of the exhibit focused on members of the Rider community, Kendrick C. Hill and Alan C. Lloyd.

Hill was an established stenographer and a Rider College faculty member. His collection features books and memorabilia from the early days of education.

“[Hills’s collection] goes back to the early years of business education,” said Telonidis. “There’s a variety of subjects represented including accounting, penmanship and bookkeeping.”

Lloyd’s collection highlighted the art of typewriting which was introduced to the college in the late 1800s.

“Lloyd’s collection has over 700 items on the subject of typewriting,” said Telonidis. “This man was an expert in the field of typewriting and was the chief editor of the McGraw Hill Book Company in their typewriting division.”

The most significant part of the display is the vast collection of shorthand material collected by Louis A. Leslie, an American author whose work with Gregg shorthand influenced many academic institutions.

Shorthand, which consists of a series of abbreviations and symbols representing letters and phrases, was taught in colleges and universities for decades before its popularity faded. Most American institutions utilized the Gregg shorthand system created by John R. Gregg.

According to Congleton, with thousands of items catalogued in the collection, Rider’s display rivals the New York Public Library’s collection of shorthand material for being the largest collection in the world.

“This is probably our most famous special collection,” said Telonidis. “It consists of a lot of different works in shorthand and many of them are instruction manuals. There are many, many different types of shorthand and the main ones are represented here.”

Rider acquired the collection because of their relationship with John Robert Gregg Fund of the Community Trust, who entrusted them with conserving the items.

“A lot of the materials came to us in the late ’80s and ’90s because Leslie was the vice president of the Gregg Shorthand Company,” said Congleton. “He collected shorthand material throughout his life and, after he died, the foundation decided to grant us the collection.”

Now, the Moore archivists are preserving the massive collection online.

“We have 365 shorthand works digitized and on our website,” said Telonidis. “There’s a lot more, so we’re still working on adding to it.”

Both Telonidis and Congleton feel the exhibit will help the Rider community trace the roots of technology in a fun and efficient way.

“It’s important to realize how Rider got its start,” said Telonidis. “It shows how education has changed and transformed over the decades and, by bringing these things out, it makes a connection between the past and present and it’s interesting for people to see.”

Congleton said, “I think it gives everyone a link for the technology they’re using now by tracing it back to how it evolved. I don’t think people are aware of how their current phones, computers and laptops evolved from typewriters, shorthand and early word processing.”

To take a tour of the ‘Spotlight on Special Collections’ exhibit, make an appointment with Robert Congleton at 609-896-5248 or Julia Telonidis at 609-896-7094.

 

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