Before PCs and laptops, before Blackberry and iPhone, business people had secretaries to help with correspondence, filing, scheduling, and generally helping them to complete the job. In the early 1950s a shortage of office clerical workers led to the creation of a special recognition of these persons in an effort to acknowledge secretaries for their contributions in the workplace. The first “National Secretaries’ Week” was observed in 1952 with the objective to recognize “the secretary, upon whose skills, loyalty, and efficiency the functions of business and government offices depend,” and to publicize “the tremendous potential of the secretarial career.”
The celebration became Professional Secretaries’ Week in 1981, and then Administrative Professionals’ Week in 2000, reflecting changes in the workplace regarding job titles and responsibilities of administrative support staff.
It seemed to me that during that time we developed an attitude that secretary had become an undignified position. Some didn’t value the qualities and importance mentioned above, and being “just a secretary” became unfavorable. An “Administrative Professional” sounded more significant, more worthy.
With the change in name, I think it became less clear just exactly who to recognize and what kind of gift was appropriate. And then the electronic age changed the scope of office tasks and many more things could be handled or eased by computers.
So, we don’t send as many flowers these days to recognize Administrative Professionals, and of course we wish we had more orders, but we understand the changing marketplace. We are still ready to fill your needs for this week, and encourage you to think of that person or persons “upon whose skills, loyalty, and efficiency (you) depend” and show them your appreciation April 23-27. And if you consider yourself a “secretary”, stand proud in the ranks of those who have kept the wheels of business rolling and on track for centuries!