Part of the American History & Genealogy Project

Mary A. Saunders 1849 ~

 

Born January 14, 1849 in Brooklyn, New York. Her father, Dr. Edward R. Percy, settled in Lawrence, Kansas, where he became so interested in the study, growth and culture of the grape and the manufacture of wine, that he gave up his practice as a physician. Miss Percy became the wife of A. M. Saunders.

Being left a widow after two years with a child to support, she endeavored to earn her living as an organist in one of the churches in Lawrence, Kansas. While on a visit to her husband's relatives in Nova Scotia, she decided to return to New York and pursue her musical studies.

At this time her attention was drawn to a new invention, the typewriter. She was introduced to G. W. N. Yost, the inventor of typewriters, who promised that as soon as she could write on the typewriter at the rate of sixty words a minute he would employ her as exhibitor and saleswoman. In three weeks she accomplished this task, and in January, 1875, was given employment with the company and was one of the first women to step into the field at that time occupied solely by men. She assisted in arranging the first keyboard of the Remington typewriter, which is now the keyboard, with slight alterations, used on all typewriters.

Mrs. Saunders traveled as the general agent of this company throughout the West and inaugurated the use of the first typewriter in St. Louis, Cincinnati, Chicago, Indianapolis, Detroit and other cities. Later she resigned from this position and became corresponding clerk in the Brooklyn Life Insurance Company. While here she studied stenography and two years later, when the head bookkeeper died she applied for the vacancy, which was given her at an advanced salary, she attending to all the correspondence, book-keeping, examination of all policies and had charge, of the real estate accounts.

In 1891 the Yost Typewriter Company, Limited, of London, England, was about to be formed. They offered her a fine position with them in London, as manager and saleswoman, which she accepted. Her position as manager of a school enrolling more than one hundred pupils gave her ample scope to carry out her long-desired scheme of aiding women to be self-supporting in the higher walks of life, and she was able to secure positions for men and women. At the expiration of her contract she returned to New York to undertake the management of the Company's office in that city.

Women of America

Source: The Part Taken by Women in American History, By Mrs. John A. Logan, Published by The Perry-Nalle Publishing Company, Wilmington, Delaware, 1912.

 

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