DACOMB GOES TO COURT
by BOB COLEMAN
The Argus: Saturday December 10, 1955
GOOD news for thousands of students and writers of Dacomb shorthand!
Miss Desma Lancaster has been appointed to the staff of the official Court Reporting Branch at the Law Courts.
Miss- Lancaster, 24-year-old Ascot Vale brunette, the first Dacomb writer to enter, this Pitman “holy of holies,” and her appointment might easily be the forerunner of a new era in official shorthand circles.
A good many exponents of the “old reliable” Pitman system were inclined to look down their noses at this new-fangled, streamlined shorthand, the theory of which kids at school were mastering in a few weeks.
A year ago Miss Lancaster won the Victorian short hand championship to pass the L.S.W. exam. (150 words per minute for 10 minutes) she had to practise consistently at a rate of/180 words per minute..
An official Court reporter must be able to “lake’* evidence at a rate of about 175 w.p.m. for long stretches with bursts of up to 200 w.p.m.
Thirty-three years ago two Melbourne spinsters, Misses Clare j and Beatrice Dacomb – both expert writers of Pitman shorthand-were confronted by a friend who needed to learn shorthand quickly to gain employment.
Unable to help, they discussed between themselves the prospects for a short-cut system of shorthand.
From that moment, in 1922, Dacomb shorthand – or “Webb Speed,” as they called it then, or “Australian Shorthand,” as it is now officially named – was conceived.
But many years of toll and struggle passed before the new system was to get an official try-out.
Finally, in 1933, the Education Department agreed tof conduct an experiment at Coburg High School.
The first-year shorthand students were divided into two classes, one to learn Pitman’s, the other to be taught Dacomb’s.
At the end of the first year the “Dacomb” class sat for an exam, at 80 words per minute and more than 80 per cent, passed.
The “Pitman’s” class was still learning its theory!
At the end of that first year the department told the Misses Dacomb that if they could get a student to pass the Technical Schools’ examination at 150 w.p.m. lt would introduce the system in high schools.
The sisters chose three “star” pupils and tutored them privately at their South Yarra flat.
Within a year Miss Myra Parley, then aged only 14, passed the test. Later the department replaced Pitman’s as the shorthand to be taught in 60 high schools with Dacomb’s.
Miss Farley, who later became a teacher of thc system, had virtually gone as far as she could with shorthand.
At 14 she was seven years too young to sit for His L.S.W. examination!
So don’t worry, mother, if your daughter-or son-U learning the “home-grown” Dacomb system.
It’s a good shorthand – ask Miss Lancaster.