Monday, November 21, 2011

Artifact Detective: Rite-Line Paper Holder

Please help us uncover some of the stories behind our objects. Leave a comment with anything you may know about the featured item. We welcome all information, and we’d appreciate sources and citations when possible. Thanks!

Artifact Detective logo with magnifying glass

What we know:

  • This item belonged to Rita Trombly Manning when she worked for the FBI from the 1940s to 1970s.
  • We know Ms. Trombly worked as a stenographer, someone who takes notes in shorthand, in various departments, including the Records and Communications Division and the Crime Records Division.
  • A note included with the object says, “Device allows you to insert an already typed paper and add another line to it.”
  • Office supply: Rite-Line Copy Holder. Front view. 2011.12.6 Collection of the National Law Enforcement Museum, Washington, D.C.
    Office supply: Rite-Line Copy Holder. Side view. 2011.12.6 Collection of the National Law Enforcement Museum, Washington, D.C.

    Office supply: Rite-Line Copy Holder. 2011.12.6 Collection of the National Law Enforcement Museum, Washington, D.C.

    What we want to know:

  • What is the primary purpose of this device?
  • How does this object work with a piece of paper?
  • What year was this item made and in what years was it used?
  • Was this an everyday office supply?
  • Was this a common office supply for law enforcement offices?
  • If you have any information about this object or own an object similar to this, leave us a comment!


    1. Hi, This object was commonly used by secretaries in from the thirties all the way till today, in some cases. When you needed to retype a letter or document, you would take the original and roll it up then pull the top of it up until it sticks out the top. Then you set the dial on the side to 1, 2 or 3, depending on the spacing of the document. You line up the first line with the straight edge and tap the green bar to advance. It's compact and heavy so it doesn't take up much room and it doesn't move around. Not particular to law enforcement, it was used by secretaries everywhere.

      1. We currently found one of these in the office at the Catholic diocese, how would you type once you rolled the paper in the holder?

    2. Thank you for your help. We really appreciate it!

    3. I have one of these, but never knew what it was...found it in the basement of the house of a woman who was a secretary in the 30's and 40's

    4. I have one that was being tossed into a dumpster at the Washington Navy Yard, during a building Renovation. I'm going to put it on EBay. It works perfect.

    5. I have this valuable office tool -- it has followed me from job to job to job over the past 45 years, having first come into my possession in 1969. The photo above is missing a critical piece -- the wire frame that props up the sheet of paper as it rolls through. There are three settings for advancing the page either one line at a time, two lines, or three lines. In every office I've been in, this tool has been borrowed by most everyone else. Even though we're computer driven these days, the value of the Rite-Line remains. Can't imagine why they are no longer made and sold.

    6. I don't believe any of the explanations is correct. You cannot type with this device. It was used to hold the paper FROM WHICH YOU TYPED (TRANSCRIBED MATERIAL from written or previously typed material which had editing notes added. It scrolled up a line as you pressed the bar in front, thus keeping the current line of material in view for the typist so he/she would always see the line being typed (transferred to typewritten material). Hope this clears it up. I have two of these which came from Babson-United Investment Advisors in Wellesley Hills, MA when they moved to Watertown (now extinct).
      Want to sell but don't know what they're worth.