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John Robert Gregg Edit Profile

educator , public , author

John Robert Gregg, Irish educator, author, public. Awarded medal for “distinguished services to commercial education,” Eastern Commercial Teachers Assn; award of New York Academy of Public; Awarded King George Medal, for services to the cause of freedom, 1947. Fellow National Academy of Design; member Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Commercial Teachers Federation (honorary life), National Shorthand Reporters’ Association (charter.


John Robert Gregg was born in Shantonagh, Ireland, as the youngest child of Robert and Margaret Gregg, where they remained until 1872, when they moved to Rockcorry, County Monaghan.


This incident profoundly damaged Gregg's hearing for the rest of his life, rendering him unable to participate fully in school, unable to understand his teacher.


Childhood \r\n Robert Gregg, who was of Scottish ancestry, was station-master at the Bushford railway station in Rockcorry. On his second day of class, John Robert was caught whispering to a schoolmate, which prompted the schoolmaster to hit the two children's heads together. This ultimately led to John Robert unnecessarily being perceived as dull or mentally challenged by his peers, teachers, and family.

He was versed in Pitman Shorthand, and took verbatim notes of the sermon at the village church, causing the preacher to sweat and studder, out of fear that his sermon, which he had plagiarized from a famous preacher, would be made public through Annesley's notes. None of the children succeeded in fully learning the system. On his own, John Robert learned a different shorthand system, that of Samuel Taylor, published in a small book by Odell.

He taught himself the system fully, since he did not require the ability to hear in order to learn from the book. Due to hardships on the family, Gregg had to leave school before the age of 13 in order to support his family's income. He worked in a law office, earning five shillings a week.

Gregg professed he initially set out to improve the English adaptation by John Matthew Sloan of the French Prévost Duployé Shorthand, while working with one of Sloan's sales agents, Thomas Malone. Malone published a system called Script Phonography, of which Gregg asserted a share in authorship was owed to him. It was put forth in a brochure entitled Light-Line Phonography: The Phonetic Handwriting which he published in Liverpool, England.

In 1893, he emigrated to the United States, where he published in the same year Gregg Shorthand. The method met with great success in the new country, and Gregg settled in Chicago where he authored numerous books for the Gregg Publishing Company on the subjects of shorthand and contemporary business practices.


  • inventor of the Gregg system of shorthand

  • In 1888 he brought out Light-Line Phonography, containing a large number of improvements. After he had struggled several years to popularize the new system, it gradually caught on in England, and his book eventually ran into 500 editions.

  • He founded Gregg College, Incorporated, of which he became president, and he was also president of the Gregg Publishing Company, with branches in several cities.

  • Gregg was editor of the magazines The Gregg Writer and American Shorthand Teacher (later the Business Education World).



Fellow National Academy of Design. Member Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Commercial Teachers Federation (honorary life), National Shorthand Reporters’ Association (charter. Clubs: Illinois Athletic (Chicago).


Married Maida Wasson, July 3, 1899 (died June 28, 1928). Married second, Janet Fraser, d. Children: Kate Kinley, John Robert.

George Gregg

Margaret (Johnston) Gregg

Janet Fraser

Maida Wasson

John Robert Gregg

Kate Kinley Gregg