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Alice Darling Secretarial Service Inc. Ephemera

 Collection
Identifier: CHC063
This collection contains records of the business activities of the Alice Darling Secretarial Services Inc. These textual records reflect the legal status, certification process, job descriptions, and financial costs involved in providing the vocational service of clerical work. Also present are draft letterhead designs and other evidence of the products of contracted work. Clients include the IRS and Francis J. Murphy, and other businesses specified include the Marston’s Office Services, Vikon Chemical Company, and the Hartford Stenographic Bureau.

Correspondence related to the secretarial trade and the Alice Darling School are reflected in the collection. Marketing tools for the school include pamphlets, signs, business cards, and newspaper articles. Of particular interest are the correspondence and business transactions connected to members of the Shia sect of Islam, some of which are written in Arabic.

Dates

  • 1948-1991
  • Majority of material found within 1948-1955

Language of Materials

Material is in English and Arabic.

Access

Collection is available for research under the CHC rules of use.

Copyright Notice

Copyright for materials resides with the creators of the items in question, unless otherwise designated.

It is the responsibility of the researcher to understand and observe copyright law and to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyright. Questions concerning copyright and permission to publish should be directed to the Cambridge Historical Commission Archives.

Extent

1 folder (22 items)

Overview

This collection contains records of the business activities of the Alice Darling Secretarial Services Inc. from 1948-1991. These textual records reflect the legal status, certification process, job descriptions, and financial costs involved in providing the vocational service of clerical work. Marketing tools for the school include pamphlets, signs, business cards, and newspaper articles. Also present are draft letterhead designs and other evidence of the products of contracted work. Clients include the IRS, Karim Aga Khan, and Francis J. Murphy, and other businesses present in the records include the Marston’s Office Services, Vikon Chemical Company, and the Hartford Stenographic Bureau.

Historical Note

Alice Darling Secretarian Services Inc. Alice Darling Secretarial Service Inc. was started in 1913 at 1384 Massachusetts Avenue in Harvard Square, Cambridge. Originally a company that only provided clerical services to clients, it expanded in 1920 with the Harvard Square Stenographers Bureau, also known as Miss Darling’s Business Employment Bureau. This addition facilitated job connections for secretarial services. In 1923 the Alice Darling Secretarial School was added as a third component to the company. The school was created out of requests from women and college students for formal secretarial instruction, personal observations of inadequate customary office behavior, and a general need for a practical school. Unlike other secretarial schools, this vocational school incorporated a psychological component, courses on business ethics, and personality training. Going beyond a school curriculum model, the Alice Darling School implemented a “tutorial system” that integrated office procedures and practical applications.

In the early years, the secretarial school only offered general stenography and typewriting courses but it soon expanded its curriculum. In 1928 it introduced training on the Ediphone dictation device developed by the Edison company. Additionally, a Cambridge Chronicle article from June 29, 1928 stated that the school “aside from enabling pupils to have confidence in themselves, which is an essential requisite for ultimate success, is also a means of increasing on a large scale their earning capacity.”

Growth continued throughout the first half of the twentieth century. The Great Depression saw a rise in attendance because pupils needed to learn practical, useful skills and networking through real world jobs provided through the public stenographic department. Graduates at this time were likely to earn a monthly revenue of $100, according to a Cambridge Chronicle article. During World War II, the school expanded again to accommodate war emergency courses.

In the late 1940s, the Alice Darling Secretarial Services conglomerate changed management. It was taken over by Theodora L. and John S. Marston who had a prior business, the Marston’s Office Services, at 1735 Massachusetts Avenue. At this time, the commissionable department served as a licensed intelligence service for clients such as the Internal Revenue Service. Its employment facilitator role also extended to the state and federal positions because it provided certification through the Civil Service Exam.

Further administrative adjustments occurred when the Alice Darling business moved locations due to the Cambridge Savings Bank taking over the block on Mass Avenue. As needs changed and technology advanced, the company shifted its services in the latter half of the twentieth century. By the twenty-first century, the majority of its business was audiovisual transcription.
Alice Darling The founder Alice Darling, born Azniv Beshgeturian, was born into a prominent Armenian family of clerks, bishops, professors, and ministers. She emigrated to America in 1898 and attended Boston public schools and Bridgewater State Normal School (now Bridgewater State University). After beginning her professional career as a teacher for the Boston public day and night schools, Darling opened her own business in 1913 in Harvard Square, named the Alice Darling Secretarial Services. During this period she also wrote two books on Americanization; the Foreigners Guide to English became a popular educational resource. In 1939, Darling received her LLB from Northeastern University. In her personal life, Darling was known to be a prolific traveler, visiting many places in the U.S., including California, Niagara Falls, and Colorado.
Theodora and John Marston Theodora L. and John S. Marston received their state license to conduct their business services in 1949. They were actively involved in the Lesley-Ellis School; John was treasurer of the Parents Association in 1954. The couple lived at 60 Brattle Street in Cambridge as well as 17 Spring Street in Lexington, Mass.
Mary Passanisi Mary Passanisi graduated from Somerville High school in 1951. She lived at 29 Bailey Road, Somerville with her parents, Dominic and Josephine Passanisi, and five younger siblings. Her parents were Italian immigrants who worked in the food service industry as lunch and fruit vendors. Mary’s contribution to this collection comes from her time in high school. After she graduated, she married John B. Rossetti and moved to Methuen where they had two children. She pursued careers in the hairdressing industry and the IRS.
Karim Aga Khan Addressed as Karim Aga Khan in this collection, Prince Shāh Karim al-Husayni (1936-present) is the current Aga Khan (IV) of the Imāmate of the Nizari Ismāʿīli Shias, a sub-sect of Shia Islam. Although he desired to get his higher education from MIT, in the late 1950s he attended Harvard University by command of his grandfather, Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah, Aga Khan III. He was a member of the Delphic Club and played varsity soccer. While attending the university, his grandfather provided Harvard with an endowment to create the Aga Khan Professorship of Iranian. It enlarged Iranian studies in the Center of Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard and it was motivated by the desire to facilitate increased understanding between the East and West. A year later in 1957, Aga Khan III died and Karim Aga Khan assumed the tenure of the religious leadership position while still attending school. He received his BA in oriental history in 1958 and his graduate degree from Harvard in 1961. Continuing the efforts of his grandfather, Karim Aga Khan gave an endowment to Harvard and MIT to establish the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture in 1979.
Sadruddin Aga Khan Sadruddin Aga Khan (1933-2003) is the son of Aga Khan III and Andrée Joséphine Carron, also known as Prince Andrée Aga Khan. In 1954 he graduated from Harvard University and then conducted research at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies. While at Harvard, he also served as an editor for the Harvard Lampoon and in 1953 he was a founder of the Paris Review. In the late 1950s he established Harvard’s Ismaili Community Fellowships. These awards offered greater educational opportunities to members of the Ismaili community. He and his nephew, Aga Khan IV also funded a project to build a Mohammedan Mosque in Arsenal Square, which would provide a place of worship for members of the Harvard Islamic Society. From 1966 to 1977 he served as the United National High Commissioner for Refugees.

Sources consulted:

  1. Harvard Magazine.” July 2008. Accessed through harvardmagazine.com
  2. “Aga Khan IV.” Wikipedia. Last updated March 24 2020.
  3. “Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan.” Wikipedia. Last updated February 8 2020.

Collection Arrangement

Due to the small size of this ephemera collection, series-level organization has not been artificially imposed.

Physical Location

Collection is stored on-site

Provenance

Donated by Rosalie Prosser, business owner at time of donation, February 2002.

Separated materials

Two items from the original item-level inventory are not present in the collection. They are:
  1. Newspaper excerpt featuring an article on Cardullo’s Trattoria, Harvard Square. Boston Sunday Post, October 2, 1955.
  2. Newspaper image, photocopied. Caption: “The billboard overlooking Harvard Square is an endangered species under a plan approved by the Cambridge City Council.” Boston Globe, June 1991.

Processing Information

Processing and arrangmement by Maeve Strucker, November 2002.

Finding aid by Brittany Fox,March 2020.

Encoded by: Brittany Fox, June 2020.
Title
Inventory of the Alice Darling Secretarial Service Inc. Ephemera, 1948-1991
Author
Processing by: Maeve Strucker, November 2002; Finding aid by: Brittany Fox, March 2020; machine-readable finding aid by: Brittany Fox, June 2020.
Description rules
Finding aid was prepared using DACS
Language of description
Description is in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge Historical Commission Archives Repository

Contact:
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617-349-4683