Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Ladies and Linotype

File:De Vinne 1904 - Linotype machine diagram.png

 Diagram of a linotype magazine c.1904 [Wikimedia]

Thursday 9th March 1916: Recruitment tribunals across the country have been meeting to consider applications for exemption from military service. A comment from a member of the Leighton Buzzard Tribunal considering an application from a linotype operator has made the national news, with the following letter appearing in the latest issue of Newspaper World:

"Many amusing and remarkable statements in regard to newspaper working have been made at the meetings of the local Tribunals, but surely the most surprising of all is the one recorded in last week's 'Tribunalities', in connection with the application of a linotype operator, a member of the Tribunal declaring that he had heard of a lady operator becoming skilled in two weeks. Evidently the Tribunal took a more common sense view, for the operator concerned was granted a postponement of four months".

The tribunal member must have an extremely limited understanding of the printing industry. It is generally accepted that men need three or four years to become skilled at operating complicated linotype machines. The extraordinary statement of this particular tribunal member that he had heard of a lady who learned to operate one in a fortnight, has caused indignation among linotype operators across the country, who know from experience just how unlikely this would be. The reality is rather different. A lady in Leighton Buzzard has indeed begun to operate a typesetting machine, but a typograph rather than a linotype. These German made machines are much simpler and considerably slower. After two weeks the lady had shown enough promise to suggest that continued tuition would enable her to work the machine.

Source: Leighton Buzzard Observer, 14th March 1916

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