“‘Begin at the beginning,’ the King said gravely, ‘and go till you come to the end; then stop'”*…
Index cards are mostly obsolete nowadays. We use them to create flash cards, write recipes, and occasionally fold them up into cool paper airplanes. But their original purpose was nothing less than organizing and classifying every known animal, plant, and mineral in the world. Later, they formed the backbone of the library system, allowing us to index vast sums of information and inadvertently creating many of the underlying ideas that allowed the Internet to flourish…
How Carl Linnaeus, the author of Systema Naturae and father of modern taxonomy, created index cards… and how they enabled libraries as we know them, and in the process, laid the groundwork for the Web: “How the Humble Index Card Foresaw the Internet.”
* Lewis Carroll (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland)
As we do ’em up Dewey style, we might recall that it was on this date in 1991 that the handwritten script of the first half of the original draft of Huckleberry Finn, which included Twain’s own handwritten corrections, was recovered. Missing for over a hundred years, it was found by a 62-year old librarian in Los Angeles, who discovered it as sorted through her grandfather’s papers sent to her from upstate New York. Her grandfather, james Gluck, a Buffalo lawyer and collector of rare books and manuscripts, to whom Twain sent the manuscript in 1887, had requested the manuscript for the town’s library, now called the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library (where the second half of the manuscript has been all along).
Gluck apparently took the first half from the library, intending to have it bound, but failed to return it. He died the following year; and the manuscript, which had no library markings, was turned over to his widow by the executors of the estate. She eventually moved to California to be near her daughter, taking the trunk containing the manuscript went with her. It was finally opened by her granddaughter, Barbara Testa.