Warhawk Almanac: Jane Clem

Written by Riley Smith

Jane E. Clem was born in 1886 in Dennis, Kansas. She graduated from Bushnell High School, in Illinois, in 1904 and completed her bachelor’s degree in science and math in 1909 at Hedding College in Abington, Illinois. Clem taught in various high schools in Illinois for 10 years before pursuing her Bachelor of Accounts from Gem City Business College in Quincy, Illinois in 1916. After years of teaching, Clem went back to school to earn her master’s degree, which she received from the University of Chicago in 1931.[1]

Photo of Jane Clem
Jane Clem. UW-Whitewater Archives and Area Research Center.

            Clem landed a teaching position at the Whitewater Normal School, now the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, in 1919. During her tenure, Clem was responsible for teaching four classes: third and fourth-year typing, Typewriting, and Typewriting Methods.[2] Clem had a reputation from her previous teaching positions as being a serious instructor who demanded excellence from her students, while at the same time, being humorous and not so extreme with her workloads that a student would be overwhelmed.[3] Clem certainly did not disappoint on that account, nor many others. During her 37 years at the university, Clem, along with the help of accounting instructor Paul Carlson and shorthand instructor Marie Benson, advanced the business program which led to a significant increase in enrollment.[4] Due in part to her work, the university was given the nickname “Typewriter Tech”, and students of Clem were greatly sought after as business education teachers following graduation.[5] In an interview, Clem said, “I see my Whitewater students who are successfully teaching all over the West. Several have made names for themselves that has brought honor to Whitewater.”[6]

Photo of class using typewriters in Old Main
Typewriting Class in Old Main. UW-Whitewater Archives and Area Research Center.

            Not only was Clem a fantastic instructor, but also an accomplished author and a forefront figure in the typewriting field. In 1929 she published the first typewriting textbook in the United States titled The Technique of Teaching Typewriting. [7] The textbook was met with great enthusiasm and became the standard for high school typewriting courses across the country. It remained popular and in January of 1955, Clem released the second edition of the textbook. In 1930, Clem published Clem’s Junior and Senior Typewriting Tests, in which her name was intentionally added to the title to ensure a great amount of sales.[8] Later, in 1936, Clem would go on to publish an article titled Grading Typewriting Skills which would earn her the title of “one of the country’s outstanding typewriting authorities.”[9] Then, in 1937, Clem collaborated on the college edition of Business and Personal Typewriting, where many of her survey tests published in the book became standards in the field.[10]

            Clem retired in 1956 and moved to San Diego. Ten years later, in 1966, to celebrate her many accomplishments in the field of typewriting and the acclaim she brought to Whitewater, the university named a newly constructed residence hall in her honor.

Photo of Clem Hall
Clem Hall[11]

[1] Richard C. Haney,  Campus Cornerstones: University of Wisconsin Whitewater Biographical Sketches of the People Whom Buildings & Facilities are Named (Whitewater: University of Wisconsin Whitewater, 1997), 30.

[1] Haney, Campus Cornerstones, 31.

[2] Haney,  Campus Cornerstones, 31.

[3] Haney, Campus Cornerstones, 31.

[4] Mary Jannette Bohi, A History of Wisconsin State University Whitewater, 1868-1968 (Whitewater, Wisconsin: Whitewater State University Foundation, Inc.), 133-134.

[5] Haney, Campus Cornerstones, 31.

[6] Bohi, A History of Wisconsin State University Whitewater, 1868-1968, 138.

[7] Haney, Campus Cornerstones, 31.

[8] Haney, Campus Cornerstones, 31.

[9] “Miss Jane Clem recognized as Typewriting Authority,” The Royal Purple, May 18, 1936.

[10] Bohi, A History of Wisconsin State University Whitewater, 136.  

[11] “Clem Hall,” University of Wisconsin – Whitewater – Housing, https://www.uww.edu/housing/residencehalls/hall-tours/clem.

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