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January 31, 2023 – April 1, 2023
Secretary Secrets: The Role of the Office Worker in the 20th Century

On display January 31-April 1, 2023

This exhibit presents a qualitative look at the field of American clerical workers, secretaries, and administrative assistants, both professional and personal, from an array of collections and archives from the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, including:

  •  An NC Mutual Insurance Company publication that features a spirit of community in the workplace, as part of a collection that emphasizes examples of mobility and success of women.
  • An artist book, novel, and prescriptive literature that display different points of view and hint at a world of published works that explore the subject of the secretary.
  • Publications by Jean Tepperman that emphasize the inequity of this “pink-collar ghetto” (a term coined in 1977, to describe the growth of women in these mostly dead-end positions).
  • Correspondence from the Mark L. Nerlove papers that highlights the secretarial role in preserving research and highlights the secretarial labor in an academic environment. To view an online version of the Nerlove secretaries, visit 

This exhibition was sponsored in part by the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation.