THE TYPING POOL The Katharine Gibbs Secretarial School has impressed Rose Doherty of Needham ever since she was 11 years old and served as a “match girl” for a bridge game at the school.
While carrying out the duties of emptying ash trays and handing out scorecards, the young girl from Providence marveled at the “beautifully put together, sophisticated women who were all willing to talk to me,” as she recalls decades later.
Their glamorous image stuck in her mind, even as she went off to college and graduate school and started her academic career at Boston College.
Eventually, she would circle back to Katharine Gibbs, first as an English instructor, then as academic dean, and then as a trustee. That was when it dawned on her that despite the institution’s fundamental toehold in the world of 20th-century careerwomen, no one knew the school’s history anymore. So she decided to write it herself.
Doherty, author of “Katharine Gibbs: Beyond White Gloves,” will be the keynote speaker on Wednesday, Nov. 11, at 7:30 p.m. at the Spellman Museum of Stamps & Postal History, when the museum’s exhibit on the Katharine Gibbs School opens.
What made Katharine Gibbs the leader among professional schools for women in its day? It’s a question that Doherty has contemplated for years.
“Gibbs didn’t offer anything different from any other secretarial school,” she said. “Shorthand, typing, filing: all the schools had that.” What was different was the philosophy. “Gibbs taught women to see themselves as professionals: to take care of themselves not only economically but also emotionally. In a world that treated secretaries as second-class citizens, Gibbs was different: its graduates commanded respect.”
Gibbs women were proficient not only at secretarial skills, Doherty said, but at social discourse. A Gibbs woman in the workplace could converse comfortably with anyone, from the janitor to the company’s president.
The Spellman Museum is located on the Regis College campus at 241 Wellesley St., Weston. Admission is $8 adults; $5 seniors; $3 children 5-12. For hours and more information, call 617-784-5838 or go to www.spellmanmuseum.org.
FIDDLE MAGIC The Acoustic Newton Coffeehouse presents a Bluegrass Bonanza on Saturday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. at Newton City Hall, 1000 Commonwealth Ave., Newton. The performance features the Newton-based Birch Hill Ramblers. This trio, named after the street on which the two founders grew up, comprises twins David and Ed Goldfinger and Ed’s son Paul, a senior at Newton North High School, playing a repertoire of traditional bluegrass songs and fiddle tunes. Joining them for this performance will be Matt Witler, a Berklee College of Music graduate and award-winning mandolinist. Tickets are Adults: $10 in advance/$15 at the door; Children & Seniors: $5 in advance/$10 at the door. For more information, go to http://www.newtoncommunitypride.org/acoustic_newton.html.
ART AND EXTINCTION A mixed-media exhibit reflecting themes of endangerment and extinction in the animal and plant world by Jane Moore Houghton are on exhibit now through Dec. 3 in the gallery of the Reuben Hoar Library, 41 Shattuck St., Littleton, with an artist’s talk and reception on Thursday, Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. For library hours and more information, call 978-540-2600 or go to www.littletonlibrary.org.
MILL DAYS The Old Schwamb Mill in Arlington is the oldest continuously operating mill site in the United States. Learn more about its history, heritage, and current function at an open house on Saturday, Nov. 14 from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with continuous tours, live music, and the closing reception of the mill’s fall photography show. Suggested donation is $5. Or attend the Old Schwamb Mill’s Craft Show and Sale on Saturday, Nov. 21 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, call 781-643-0554 or go to www.oldschwambmill.org. The mill is located at 17 Mill Lane, Arlington.
INSPIRING EVENING The Newton Schools Foundation presents the fifth annual “Newton Inspires: An Evening of Ideas and Community,” on Monday, Nov. 9, 7-9:45 p.m. at Newton South High School, 140 Brandeis Rd., Newton Centre. This year’s program comprises 18 speakers, including Anita Diamant, author; John Harthorne, founder and CEO, MassChallenge; Billy Starr, founder and executive director, Pan-Mass Challenge; Stephen Kaufer, president and CEO, TripAdvisor; Roger Berkowitz, president and CEO, Legal Sea Foods; and Neil Swidey, journalist and author. Admission is free for Newton residents; $15 for nonresidents. Space is limited, so advance registration is highly recommended. To register, go to www.NewtonSchoolsFoundation.org.
CIVIL WAR CHRISTMAS Wellesley College Theatre kicks off the holiday season early with “A Civil War Christmas: An American Musical Celebration,” Nov. 18-22 at the Ruth Nagel Jones Theatre on the Wellesley College campus, 106 Central St. Wellesley. The story takes place in Washington, D.C. in 1864 as President and Mrs. Lincoln plot their gift-giving. Performances are Wed., Nov. 18, Thursday, Nov. 19, Friday, Nov. 20, and Saturday, Nov. 21 at 7 p.m., with 2 p.m. matinees on Saturday, Nov. 21 and Sunday, Nov. 22. Tickets are $15 general admission, $10 seniors and students. Free for all members of Wellesley College community, as well as Olin, Babson, and MIT students with ID. For advance ticket purchases, call 781-283-2000.