Taking work home: the private secretary and domestic identities in the long 1950s

Gillian Murray*

*Corresponding author for this work

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This article explores how the role of the private secretary informed domestic identities in the long 1950s, arguing that as a highly visible figure in social commentary and popular culture she became an important icon around which discussions of feminine ideals circulated. Using archived television news film it is possible to open up a discussion of the visual themes surrounding the female secretary in the second half of the twentieth century and also to begin to study the secretary as a speaking subject. ‘Taking work home’ refers to the complex relationship between women’s workplace and domestic identities and how they operated together in shaping women’s participation in television news and resonated with changes in women’s status at large. Thus the media archive becomes a valuable source for examining the changing place of paid work in women’s lives and how this was being accommodated and articulated in popular culture.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62-76
Number of pages15
JournalWomen's History Review
Issue number1
Early online date23 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2017


  • private secretary
  • women and work
  • domestic identities


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