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Secretary, Receptionist, Office Assistant

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  • Beryl Amanda Rose (1918 - 2005)
    Beryl A. Rose, 87, of 13 St. Mark Avenue, Lititz, formerly of Lancaster, died on Saturday, June 18, 2005 at Luther Acres. Born in Folkston, GA, she is the widow of Martin J. Rose who died in 1974 and ...
  • Bernice Fern Kane (1902 - d.)
    Residence 1920: Pinegrove Township, Venango, Pennsylvania Residence 1955: Dallas, Dallas, Texas
  • Francis K. Glidden (1855 - 1933)
    Businessman. The son of Francis H. Glidden, who founded the Glidden Paint and Varnish Company in Cleveland, Ohio. He started as a secretary for his father and remained in that capacity for much of his ...
  • Betty Lou Hillard (1927 - 2012)
    ADRIAN – Betty Lou Hillard, 85, of Adrian, passed away March 22, 2012, surrounded by her family. She was born in Fairfield, Michigan on March 22, 1927, the daughter of Ivie Jerome and Goldie Belle (Har...
  • Betty Lou Neville (1927 - 2018)
    Betty C. Neville, 91, of College Station, Texas, formerly of Beaumont, Texas, died Thursday, October 18, 2018. She was born on June 5, 1927, in Beaumont, Texas, to Lelia Riddick and William O. Cornish...

A secretary, administrative professional, or personal assistant is a person whose work consists of supporting management, including executives, using a variety of project management, communication, or organizational skills. However this role should not be confused with the role of an executive secretary, who differs from a personal assistant.

The functions of a personal assistant may be entirely carried out to assist one other employee or may be for the benefit of more than one. In other situations a secretary is an officer of a society or organization who deals with correspondence, admits new members, and organizes official meetings and events.

A secretary, also known as a personal assistant (PA) or administrative assistant, can have many administrative duties. The title "secretary" is not used as often as in decades past, and responsibilities have evolved in response to the technological age, requiring knowledge in software such as the Microsoft Office suite of applications. The duties may vary according to the nature and size of the company or organization, and might include managing budgets, bookkeeping, attending telephone calls, handling visitors, maintaining websites, travel arrangements, and preparing expense reports. Secretaries might also manage all the administrative details of running a high-level conference or meeting and be responsible for arranging the catering for a lunch meeting. Often executives will ask their assistant to take the minutes at meetings and prepare meeting documents for review.[4] In addition to the minutes, the secretary may be responsible for keeping all of the official records of a company or organization.[2] A secretary is also regarded as an "office manager".

In the 1840s and 1850s, commercial schools were emerging to train male and female students the skills needed to work in a clerical position.[6] In 1870, Sir Isaac Pitman founded a school where students could qualify as shorthand writers to "professional and commercial men". Originally, this school was only for male students. In 1871, there were more than 150 such schools operating in the United States, a number that grew to as many as 500 by the 1890’s.[7]

In the 1880s, with the invention of the typewriter, more women began to enter the field and during the upcoming years, especially since World War I, the role of secretary has been primarily associated with women. By the 1930s, fewer men were entering the field of secretaries.

In an effort to promote professionalism among United States secretaries, the National Secretaries Association was created in 1942. Today, this organization is known as the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP). The organization developed the first standardized test for office workers called the Certified Professional Secretaries Examination (CPS). It was first administered in 1951.

By the mid-20th century, the need for secretaries was great and offices and organizations featured large secretarial pools. In some cases the demand was great enough to spur secretaries being recruited from overseas; in particular, there was often a steady demand for young British women to come to the U.S. and fill temporary or permanent secretarial positions.[8] Several organizations were created to assist secretaries from foreign lands, including the Society of International Secretaries and the Association of British Secretaries in America.[9]

In 1952, Mary Barrett, president of the National Secretaries Association, C. King Woodbridge, president of Dictaphone Corporation, and American businessman Harry F. Klemfuss created a special Secretary's Day holiday, to recognize the hard work of the staff in the office. The holiday caught on, and during the fourth week of April is now celebrated in offices all over the world. It has been renamed "Administrative Professional's Week" to highlight the increased responsibility of today's secretary and other administrative workers, and to avoid embarrassment to those who believe that "secretary" refers only to women or to unskilled workers.