23 of the weirdest, funniest, creepiest, most surprising items found by archivists.

Ever wondered what goes on in a library's dark corners, where you aren't allowed to go?

Wonder no more, thanks to The Society of American Archivists' Ask an Archivist Day.

On Oct. 4, university, corporate, and museum archivists around the world dug out the coolest, rarest, and weirdest items in their collections, photographed them, and put the results on Twitter.


They didn't disappoint. Here's just some of what they had in storage.

1. Small items. Very small items. Like a Bible so tiny that it has a magnifying glass with it for reading.

2. And a barely-bigger-than-a-quarter book about birds, published during the deadliest year of the Civil War.

3. Amazing and rare photos. Like this one of unhappy men preparing a diver to check out the bottom of Loch Tay in 1890.

4. Or this one of three women in West Virginia, rocking the slickest hats of 1908.

5. A folding chair used by Barack Obama.

6. Dirt from the grave of a well-known American writer.

7. A Roman-era coin, depicting either a man in a helmet or a curious understanding of human anatomy.

8. A photo of a sailor whose ship vanished in the Bermuda Triangle in 1918.

9. And one of of other World War I sailors giddily posing on top of two ginormous battleship guns.

10. A child's sketch of a groundbreaking concept car — complete with a built-in kitchen and a 300 mph top speed.

11. A legal document drawn up in 14th century France.

12. A pioneering, ultra-glittery work of feminist art.

13. A photo of fashion designer Ann Lowe, the woman who designed Jackie Kennedy's wedding dress.

14. A script for a rarely heard "Empire Strikes Back" radio play.

15. Campus activist fliers from the 1970s.

16. And punk zines from the 1980s.

17. An image of rows and rows of classic radiator shells waiting to be installed at a Depression-era Pontiac plant.

18. A handwritten letter from Sigmund Freud.

19. Ancient technology.

20. Proof that Queen Elizabeth II is apparently a secret football fan.

21. A memo warning campus police about an upcoming Ozzy Osborne concert, citing the singer's involvement with "abuse of animals" and "alleged satanic groups."

22. Perhaps most importantly, a visual reminder of the tedious, painstaking work archivists do to preserve these items for random humans to gawk at on the Internet.

23. And why, if you want to see more, you'll have to visit a library or archive in person.

You can happily scroll through dozens more like this using the #AskAnArchivist hashtag.

No appointment necessary.

Update 10/9/2017: The headline was changed to reflect that archivists and librarians differ, in part by the type of materials handled.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

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