ATG Quirkies: Library Hand and the Telegraph

This post from Atlas Obscura tells the story of what was once called library hand, a fastidiously neat penmanship style made for card catalogs. Believe it or not, back in the late 1880’s this was a big issue “as libraries acquired more books, card catalogs needed to expand fast in order to keep track of them.”  The latest in technology, the typewriter took too long to learn so librarians had to come up with a standardized legible handwriting.

Following the lead of Thomas  Edison and his telegraph operators who were clocking in at 45 words a minute with their handwriting method, Melvil Dewey and his crew of “a dozen catalogers and librarians” came up with style of penmanship that focused on “uniformity rather than beauty”.

(Thanks to John Riley of Gabriel Books for providing ATG Quirkies)

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