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History of the Secretary Desk

A secretary desk is a closed desk containing drawers beneath and a bookcase above. In Europe, the secretary desk is also called a bureau. It takes up little floor space, and is generally positioned against a wall. This office furniture evolved over hundreds of years, keeping pace with technology.

Traveling desks such as the fall-front desk box kept records organized and mobile. Conveniently, they could be affixed to a chest or placed on a table. The secretary desk is a descendant of these portable desks. As people's needs shifted from travel to storage, desk designs included cabinetry with multiple drawers, small compartments, shelves and ornamentation. The new desks allowed for storage of documents and books.

During the 17th century, the secretary desk we know today first appeared. It was often designed with a slant-writing surface. An alternative to the slant writing surface was a long, hinged false drawer. The hinged section could be used as a writing surface, while the remaining space contained smaller drawers for storage. This feature has given way to the pullout tray for computer keyboards, which we use today.

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