Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

Administrative Professionals and Sitting On the Boss’s Lap


Leading up to Administrative Professional’s Week, the last full week in April, I thought this would be a good reminder of how technology–and a changed society– has improved many aspects of the way we work. This article is from a circa 1945 magazine, touting the advantages of magnetic wire recorders. The recorder cost almost $400. The divorce was probably more expensive.

The image of the secretary sitting on the boss’s lap was part of cartoons and office anecdotes, but I doubt it was as prevalent as those stories make it sound.  For one thing, not every secretary was young, lightweight and willing. On the other hand, one woman who was an executive secretary in the late 1940s told me she massaged her boss’s scalp every day at 3 p.m., so maybe sitting on his lap was part of the work too! (I think the secretary in the photo looks unimpressed though, don’t you? )

In this same era, the International Association of Administrative Professionals was formed as the National Secretaries Association. It’s a non-profit, networking and educational association with 40,000 members, world-wide. In addition to providing a variety of training and certification programs, the association has a website with helpful information that can be adapted to any work setting and any job. Check it out for yourself and provide it as a resource to others.

You may also want to check on some of the sites that offer improved office seating.

April 9th, 2011 Posted by | Training, Technology, Blogs, A/V etc. | 3 comments


  1. My grandmother once told me that when she worked for a life insurance company from around 1937-1941 she sat on her boss’s lap a lot!! She was about 18 and he gave her extra money sometimes. She swore that nothing else went on but he liked giving everyone the impression he was a real “wolf”. I wish she was still with us so I could show this to her! Thank you for the smiles!

    Comment by hoosier21 | April 11, 2011

  2. I noticed on Facebook that someone commented that the pedal is like the one Rosemary Woods said she accidentally hit to erase recordings of Nixon and his team discussing Watergate burglaries. That was entirely possible, although I don’t think it happened that way. My mom, who was a legal secretary, erased trials notes accidentally in the same way and was fired for it.

    I also want to point out that the weather is now officially decent in Wyoming and we haven’t seen you for almost two years, so come on up and teach a class.

    Comment by wiseacre | April 16, 2011

  3. Tina, I wanted you to know how much I enjoyed your presentation at the APCO conference. You were very inspirational and I thought your stories were great. I hope I get to hear you again soon. I’m enjoying your website very much and will pass the link along to everyone in our center. Thanks again!

    Comment by Dispatcher1 | April 16, 2011

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