ATG Quirkies: Index Cards Organize the World

by | Dec 11, 2017 | 0 comments

This post from The Atlantic tells the story of How the Index Card Cataloged the World.   The author, Daniela Blei starts her account with the Enlightenment, “when the lowly index card was conceived by one of its towering figures: Carl Linnaeus, the Swedish botanist, physician, and the father of modern taxonomy.” The story goes on to tell how after he “experimented with a few filing systems,” and perhaps being inspired by “playing cards,” Linnaeus developed the index card eventually enabling other applications ranging from the venerable library card catalog to J. Edgar Hoover’s notorious “Editorial Card Index.” (Evidently, Hoover “used skills he burnished as a cataloger at the Library of Congress” to create his infamous file.)

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

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