Wednesday, October 17, 2012


When I recently wrote about the note that 13-year-old hiker Tim Taylor left on a mountain in 1972, I didn't give much thought to the scrap of paper on which he had written the note. But several Permanent Record readers recognized it as an old version of Western Union Form 1207, which is the form used to send a telegram. If you look closely at the lower-left corner of Tim's note, you can see that the fine print reads, "WU 1207 (R 5-68)," which means the form had been revised in May of 1968.

What you see above is a much earlier version of Form 1207. The date line at near the top right corner reads "191__," so it was obviously meant to be used in the 1910s.

That photo comes from the excellent blog Stuff Found in Old Library Books, which is produced by a seminary student named Charles Featherstone. It's similar to two other sites I've written about: Forgotten Bookmarks (which I wrote about here) and Together, as Always (which I wrote about here).

Those other two projects are both based on things written and found in used books, but Featherstone's site documents the things he's found inside books while working at the seminary library at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. At the end of the day, it's all the same thing -- ephemera found in books -- but for some reason the distinction between used books and library books feels important to me, although I can't quite articulate why.

Anyway: Here's the page where Featherstone describes finding the Western Union form in a book (although he doesn't recall which book -- grrr). As you'll see, he's maybe a bit too fond of the sound of his own voice, but it's still good stuff. So is the rest of his site. Definitely worth poking around in.

(Special thanks to Paul Deaver for pointing me toward Charles Featherstone's site.)

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