Reading the Index Finding Treasure

In these days of full text searching, the reading of indices is no longer an habitual activity. It is not however difficult to appreciate the indices prepared with the care and preserved in tomes such as The Book of Knowldge: The Children’s Encyclopedia Volume XX (1929).

Following on the standard alphabetical index and the poetry index (by author and first lines), is the “School-Subject Guide” which has an “Applied Science and Industry” section which has as its first subsection one devoted to “Food and Its Sources”. Its listing reads like a found poem.

A Grain of Salt
How Coffee Comes to Us
How Fish and Oysters are Taken
How Flour is Made
The Story in a Tea-cup
Where Sugar Comes From
The Worlds’ Bread and Butter
Bees and Wasps (The makers of the purest sugar)
Crabs, Lobsters and Their Kin
The Great Cattle Family (Animals that feed and clothe us)

The “Food and Its Sources” subsection continues with a list of Things to Make which references recipes and experiments found throughout the volumes of the encyclopedia and that listing is followed by Wonder Questions.

What makes us hungry?
Does the brain need food?
Why do we cook our food?

Trolling through the index is like reading a map, imagining where to go. With Volume and Page Number functioning like a URL. And easily absorbing time and attention.

And so for day 367

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