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The History of Court Reporting, Member Review

The History of Court Reporting

Friday, August 10, 4:15 – 5:45 p.m., by Dom Tursi


Dom Tursi, the director of the Gallery of Shorthand, is a whirling dervish who can’t stand still and strode up and down the aisle at our seminar talking excitedly about what he’s created in the Federal Courthouse in Central Islip, Long Island, N.Y. He had an architect design the space just inside the front door of the courthouse in the atrium lobby with an amazing display of antique shorthand machines and other equipment used to make the record. He also has done lots of research on the history of court reporting and passed out a handout on “The Ten Epochs of Shorthand” beginning with the scribes in 3500 B.C. Shorthand was abolished in 500 A.D. during the Dark Ages, and interest was not renewed until 1200 A.D. Sir Isaac Pitman and Dr. John Robert Gregg invented the first practical shorthand systems, and Pitman’s Phonography was brought to America in 1852. Gregg’s Light-Line Phonography came here in 1893, and Gregg Shorthand became the predominant shorthand system in the United States. Machine shorthand appeared in 1879, and the first “word-at-a-stroke” machine in 1885. Machine writers beat out pen writers at the 1914 speed contest in all but the final speed test, but they weren’t really accepted into the court reporting community until the 1940s. During the Lindbergh kidnapping trial, the court reporter sat over a slit in the floor into which his/her paper was fed to a waiting transcriber below. There was also a court reporter at Lincoln’s deathbed.

This fascinating talk made me want to visit the gallery someday.