As It Was: Grants Pass Secretary Shatters Glass Ceiling in 1917

Nov 8, 2017

In December 1917, a Grants Pass woman shattered a glass ceiling, but not in the political sense.

A stenographer for a legal firm, Elsa Gebers, went into an ante room near her office on the second floor of the Albert building on Sixth Street.  When she was ready to leave, the door wouldn’t open.  With no one around to open the door from the outside, Gebers took matters into her own hands. 

Looking through a small window across the building’s flat roof, she could see another window on the other side that she figured must lead to the building’s hallway.  She climbed out her window onto a very dusty surface.  It turned out to be a glass skylight not built to hold the weight of a sturdy woman.

As the secretary started to walk across, the glass shattered, sending her and glass shards into the confectionary store below.  The fact that the fire wire frame was embedded in the glass, and that Gebers fainted as soon as she began to fall, were credited with saving her life. 

An examination found no broken bones or internal injuries, so she was sent home with cuts and bruises.
 

Source: "Stenographer Has a Narrow Escape." Rogue River Courier, 6 Dec. 1917 [Grants Pass OR], p. 1. Historical Oregon Newspapers, https://oregonnews.uoregon.edu/lccn/sn96088180/1917-12-06/ed-1/seq-1/. Accessed 19 Oct. 2017.