Forgotten Treasures and Secret Ephemera from Memorial Library

Today, I was looking for some books in the library. While I was going through the stacks and the lists of call numbers, I looked at all the codes “PN”, “DS”, “U”, etc., and knew that they meant something, but I wasn’t sure what. So, I looked it up and it turns out that those funny little letters are a code from the Library of Congress.

Most LOC categories make sense; they’re a way of putting like things together, like books on environmental science with books on ecology, or Russian drama with Russian folktales. Some of the categories, however, seemed odd, either in their specificity or their bland subject matter. So, I decided to find my favorite ones and see what the library here at the University of Wisconsin had to offer me. I skipped the ones under N (art) and K (law) because those books are all in a different building, but I went through the rest of the list. For some of the call numbers, I went to the section and either found nothing, or looked at the books and was like “…oh, this actually could be valuable information for someone.” But there were plenty of odd books to be found all over.

Join me on this fun adventure.

First stop:

BJ2195. Telephone etiquette.

There were no books on the shelf under this call number, disappointingly, but the closest book of etiquette was Manners in Business by Elizabeth Gregg MacGibbon. Published in 1937, its table of contents include Getting Along with the Boss, Meeting the Public, Etiquette in Correspondence, Sex in Business, The Party Side of Business, After Office Hours, and Getting Ahead in Business. I really wonder what kind of businessman/businesswoman this was written for.

CC200-260. Bells, campanology, cowbells.

Yup. Bells. Just bells. There were actually a number of books on this shelf, including one aptly titled The Little Book of Bells. What caught my attention was Legends of the Bells by Ernest Morris. Literally, a bunch of folk tales about bells.

CT9999. Blank books for personal records, diaries, etc.

Why would you need a blank book in a library? Doesn’t that sort of defeat the purpose? There was only one item, a British Empire day planner from 1939. It was actually quite a lovely artifact, with a British Empire event for every day of the year. It was not written in, so there was not much to see there.

GV401-433. Physical education facilities. Sports facilities including gymnasiums, athletic fields, playgrounds, etc.

Here, I found American Playgrounds: Their Construction, Equipment, Maintenance, and Utility by Everett B. Mero (second edition! I wonder why they needed one…) Chapters included Playgrounds in Waste Places, Making Children Generally Useful, Simple Marching and Running, Interesting the Big Brothers, Fathers and Uncles, Sand Gardens for Little Children, and School Gardens. Shockingly enough, there were indeed several other books on the construction of playgrounds and play areas. Possible dissertation topic? I think so.

GV435-437. Physical measurements. Physical tests, etc.

With a lovely blue cover depicting ladies playing tennis and golf was Maryhelen Vannier‘s magnum opus, the immense book of Physical Activities for College Women. It was chock full of great info on how to do various things like sports, folk dances, and even surfing, but Chapter Two is probably one of the greatest chapters in the history of literature: Body Mechanics and Movement Fundamentals, with subsections on Body Standing, Walking, Stair Climbing, Standing Stationary, Running, Sitting, Lifting, Carrying, Pushing and Pulling, and my personal favorite, Getting Into and Out of A Car. I would now like to read to you from Page 26:


This is easier to do in some makes of cars than others. It can be done gracefully when getting into most automobiles by remembering to:

  1. First sit on the seat, face to the outside.
  2. Swing one foot in and forward, then the next.
  3. Swing the body around, facing forward with the second leg movement, sit erect, keep shoulders balanced, and your rear far back in the seat.
  4. In getting out of the car, reverse order of actions.

I am totally not making this up. I even have photographic evidence that this was written. In a book. And published. In 1969.

HQ800. Single people.

Yes, an entire call number devoted to the art of being single. There were a lot of self-help titles here, but what really jumped out at me was Why Are You Single? Well, that’s a brash question to ask, and very personal of you too, book. Why Are You Single? was written in 1949. It has twelve authors, and was compiled by Hilda Holland, who probably had a very sad life. Every chapter and sub-chapter title is a complete winner, but a handful of my favorite sub-sections are: Advice for the Working Girl, The Honeymoon, How to Overcome Momism, Marriage as Defense, Fitness for Wedlock, It’s Never Too Late, Ways Out of a Trap, and Why Get Married? Obviously, these people have a lot of opinions.

PM9999. Secret languages.

When I came to this section, I actually jumped into the stacks Mission: Impossible style, for fear someone would see me and get suspicious. Sadly, there were only two books on the shelf. One was in Italian, and one was The Complete Enochian Dictionary: A Dictionary of the Angelic Language by Donald C. Laycock. Yep, a book about the language of angels. Huh. I guess the rest of the books will remain a secret.

SH388-391. Algae cultures.

I was disappointed not to find anything under SH393 – I really wanted to see the latest literature on sea grasses – but Jose Rodolfo Lim gifted us with Farming the Ocean. 101 ways to use seaweed in your everyday life. Riveting.

TS2301. Toys.

Mostly a how-to section. There was a thick book on the history of the top, but How To Make Foreign Dolls and Their Costumes by Julienne Hallen is a healthy dose of 1950s handicrafts. Especially exciting is the section on how to make dolls for your dolls. Dolls for your dolls. Dollception.

TT980-999. Laundry work.

There’s a history of everything, including how to do one’s laundry. Household Textiles and Laundry Work by Durga Deulkar (also a second edition!) dishes you the dirt on detergents, laundry equipment, and vessels.

And that’s how I spent two hours sending myself on a library scavenger hunt.

In other news, I’ve gotten 100+ views for three days straight, so welcome all readers new and old. Which gives me an idea -of which one of these books would you like me to legitimately check out, read, and write a review? Leave your title of choice in the comments, and I’ll read and review it so you don’t have to! Here’s what’s on the table.

  •  Manners in Business by Elizabeth Gregg MacGibbon
  • Legends of the Bells by Ernest Morris
  • American Playgrounds: Their Construction, Equipment, Maintenance, and Utility by Everett B. Mero
  • Physical Activities for College Women by Maryhelen Vannier
  • Why Are You Single? by Hilda Holland
  • Farming the Ocean by Jose Rodolfo Lim
  • How To Make Foreign Dolls and Their Costumes by Julienne Hallen
  • Household Textiles and Laundry Work by Durga Deulkar 

Choose wisely, friends!