The Father of Court Stenography

Philander Deming.jpgIt’s going to take a few days to tell all that we need to tell of Albany’s Philander Deming. He was an author whose sketches of life in the Adirondacks were widely read and published in magazines like The Atlantic Monthly. He took credit for introducing stenographic recording to court proceedings, where previously the scattered notes of judges and opposing attorneys had to be relied upon. He was a legislative correspondent for the New York Times. And he even invented a “noiseless” stenographic typewriter, intended to “so improve the key-boards of type-writers that the sound of the keys is perfectly deadened and the type-writer worked without noise.”

Philander Deming was born in the little town of Carlisle in Schoharie County in 1829, the son of a Presbyterian minister. After graduating from the University of Vermont in 1861, he came to Albany and became a reporter covering the Assembly, no doubt using his shorthand writing skills.

An article in the Proceedings of the New York State Stenographers’ Association said, “Mr. Deming is a picturesque figure on the streets of Albany, in appearance having some such a look as Mark Twain.” The Proceedings then proceed to allow Mr. Deming to tell the fascinating story of his struggles to introduce stenographic recording to the courts of New York, told entirely in the third person and referring to himself as Mr. Gray. Read more here.

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