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The First Use of the File Cabinet

The First Use of the File Cabinet
March 31, 2016 English Classics Team

I am the first to agree that the need for paper filing is on the decline, however, I think we are a very long time away from being without it. There is some security in having a hard copy of important papers, knowing they won’t be disintegrated by an errant pulse of electricity or hijacked by some modern-day ransomer behind a computer. So, for as long as we keep paper copies we will need a way to keep them stored and organized. Filing cabinets are an often over-looked technology (yes, technology) that changed the face of business.

The First File Cabinet

There is some controversy over who actually invented the vertical file cabinet, but the first substantiated reference to one was found in a catalog printed in the year 1900 by a company called Library Bureau. Wikipedia has some great insight on the subject here. Prior to this invention horizontal filing, or filing in envelopes was the main method making record retrieving a cumbersome process. Businessmen would write records or letters concerning several subjects and file them chronologically. With the simpler system offered by vertical file cabinets, organization could move from chronological to subject based. This, in turn, led to the standard use of the memo (note based on only one subject that could be filed as such). Such a change in the way records were stored freed up labor hours from retrieving documents that could be used for growth and profitability.

Filing Today

Today, a vast array of sizes and styles are available for your filing needs. From the plain metal cabinet to the built in drawers found in desks. We are proud to have a line of pieces that provide filing solutions in an heirloom quality piece of furniture that looks like an antique instead of an office piece. You can view them in our file cabinets section.

campaign file cabinet

This file cabinet was done in a military campaign style.