On TimeNational Museum of American History

Marking Time
Synchronizing Time
  24-Hour Society
  Organizing Time
Tracking Time

Mastering Time
Planning It All
  Splitting Seconds

Organizing Time

Tracking Time
  Calendar board
  Calendar board, 1990s; handmade by Ruth Crosby to hang in the kitchen of her daughter's home, first in Palo Alto, California, and then in Freeland, Washington, to keep track of the busy family schedule
Gift of Diana Crosby Lindsay, Kelly G. Lindsay, Camilla C. Lindsay, and Eric Lindsay
Until well into the 19th century, many people used an almanac to mark time. Paper calendars as we know them first appeared after the Civil War. Until recently, people were most likely to use a calendar as a diary, making notes about what happened on a particular day. Today, we are more apt to use a calendar as a way to plan and coordinate what is going to happen.
Wall calendar
Patent specification
Desk calendar
Wall calendar, 1997; by
Southworth Co., West Springfield, Massachusetts; used to keep track of a harpsichord-making business
Gift of Thomas and Barbara Wolf
  Patent specification, February 26, 1867; for a wall calendar by C. W. Bryan, Springfield, Massachusetts
Courtesy of Smithsonian Institution Libraries
  Desk calendar, 1878; by Liebenroth, Von Auw & Co., New York
Courtesy of National Postal Museum
Mastering Time
"Scientific management" spread from factory floors to offices. Businessmen and professionals sought to increase their efficiency by mastering their use of time. The first modern personal organizers-loose-leaf binders with calendars and time-notation systems-appeared in the 1910s and 1920s. In the 1950s, time management became a big business as well as a focus in business-personal organizers proliferated, as did time-management texts and training programs.
The Management of Time
Detail of personal organizer
Brochure for Lawyer's Day
The Management of Time, 1959; by James T. McCay; the first modern text on time management   Detail of personal organizer, 1951; Lawyer's Day prototype, drawn by Morris Perkin, Allentown, Pennsylvania. Perkin joined with Dorney Printers to form Day-Timers, Inc.
Gift of Bob Dorney
  Brochure for Lawyer's Day, early 1950s; personal organizer by
Day-Timers, Inc.
Gift of Bob Dorney
Planning It All
In the 1980s and 1990s, personal organizers became a workday and leisure-time tool, not just for busy male professionals but also for legions of working women. Whether chunky binders or slim computers, planning systems promised to order the myriad details of a person's overflowing life. They were a kind of status symbol, too—like a fancy watch. They signaled that their owners were industrious and mindful of time.
Electronic personal organizer
Personal organizer
Electronic personal organizer, 1990s; a Data Link watch by Timex Corp., Waterbury, Connecticut, in collaboration with Microsoft Corp., Redmond, Washington; combining a timekeeper with a scheduling database that users download from their personal computers
Courtesy of Timex Corporation
  Personal organizer, 1991–1992; by Keith Clark, Sidney, New York; used by a high school senior. At this turn of the century, some kids were as tightly scheduled as their parents.
Gift of Keri Boehne
Personal organizer
Personal organizer
Personal organizer, 1977; by Leathersmith, London; used by a college professor
Lent by Ian Cooke
  Personal organizer, 1991; by Franklin Quest, Salt Lake City, Utah. Its owner was required by his employer to keep this brand of planner. He listened to training tapes on how to use it properly.
Gift of Lawrence Friedl
Personal organizer
Electronic personal digital assistant
Personal organizer, 1963; used by a Southern Railway employee
Gift of Albert Eggerton
  Electronic personal digital assistant, 1998; a PalmPilot by 3Com Corp., Mountain View, California. Its owner kept track of names, addresses, phone numbers, appointments, and "to-dos."
Gift of Caesar Chaves
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Smithsonian National Museum of American History