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.
@HornbakeLibrary We have this New Testament from 1895 with its case and magnifying glass in our collection.… https://t.co/t7JCLjR8Gu— CornellRMC (@CornellRMC)1507132779.0
2. And a barely-bigger-than-a-quarter book about birds, published during the deadliest year of the Civil War.
Q: What's one of the smallest items in our collection? A: This tiny book, "Bird Stories," published in 1863!… https://t.co/Z9sDL1JjJ3— UMD SpecColl (@UMD SpecColl)1507129340.0
3. Amazing and rare photos. Like this one of unhappy men preparing a diver to check out the bottom of Loch Tay in 1890.
A very popular print from the #hesarchives @HistEnvScot A Victorian diver and his team https://t.co/lVU9OWVtZF… https://t.co/qkUnCGQe6N— Niamh Crimmins (@Niamh Crimmins)1507113835.0
4. Or this one of three women in West Virginia, rocking the slickest hats of 1908.
@AlabamaArchives We're partial to hats. West Virginia History OnView | WVU Libraries https://t.co/VSMTWTQEpU… https://t.co/hEs3W2UbwH— WVU Libraries (@WVU Libraries)1507135946.0
5. A folding chair used by Barack Obama.
Newest acquisition? That would be this folding chair that @BarackObama sat in during his #Rutgers250 commencement… https://t.co/j0wnqI5a9E— Special Collections (@Special Collections)1507132827.0
6. Dirt from the grave of a well-known American writer.
Q:What's a spooky item in your collections? A:Here's a pine coffin owned by Katherine Anne porter & dirt from her g… https://t.co/gCYwq6MSVr— UMD SpecColl (@UMD SpecColl)1507149032.0
7. A Roman-era coin, depicting either a man in a helmet or a curious understanding of human anatomy.
What is our oldest item? A Didrachm coin minted between 280 B.C.E.-276 B.C.E. #AskAnArchivist #RomanCoins https://t.co/yYZ3JDe4dP— Special Collections (@Special Collections)1507129302.0
8. A photo of a sailor whose ship vanished in the Bermuda Triangle in 1918.
Hamilton Beggs is also part of the Gold Star Files. He was on the USS Cyclops when it disappeared in the Bermuda Tr… https://t.co/a1qRFFncm8— Alabama Archives (@Alabama Archives)1507136852.0
9. And one of of other World War I sailors giddily posing on top of two ginormous battleship guns.
How many photographs are there in the archive and how can we find these? https://t.co/udBOw9b36d #AskAnArchivistWW1… https://t.co/SiIBA0yVgL— Today's Document (@Today's Document)1507139116.0
10. A child's sketch of a groundbreaking concept car — complete with a built-in kitchen and a 300 mph top speed.
This child's car drawing sent t @ford from the 1960s has a stove, icebox, seat belts, and can go 300mph!… https://t.co/8jyYQI0jQE— The Henry Ford (@The Henry Ford)1507137015.0
11. A legal document drawn up in 14th century France.
Q: What's the oldest item in our collection? A: This French legal document dated 1334. Check out that wax seal!… https://t.co/pxQcSvJnNf— UMD SpecColl (@UMD SpecColl)1507143664.0
12. A pioneering, ultra-glittery work of feminist art.
What is the most glittery object in our collection? That would be this untitled drawing by Miriam Schapiro.… https://t.co/AAfWO43lTK— Special Collections (@Special Collections)1507122040.0
13. A photo of fashion designer Ann Lowe, the woman who designed Jackie Kennedy's wedding dress.
#ArchivesFashion #AskAnArchivist Did you know that Alabama native Ann Lowe designed Jackie Kennedy's wedding dress? https://t.co/aeYHeCeU1c— Alabama Archives (@Alabama Archives)1507137183.0
14. A script for a rarely heard "Empire Strikes Back" radio play.
@KBtheLib @nprchives Our #StarWars radio dramatization is an institutional favorite! #AskAnArchivist https://t.co/fWDjsZw5qC— NPR RAD (@NPR RAD)1507134665.0
15. Campus activist fliers from the 1970s.
@NuttyEscapist We also love the Student Activism materials (UARS 259, University Archives). Check these items distr… https://t.co/56VyuKXv13— UCLA Lib Spec Coll (@UCLA Lib Spec Coll)1507136890.0
16. And punk zines from the 1980s.
@NuttyEscapist A new fav is our Punk Zines and Ephemera collection (Coll 2276). Pictured are some issues of 60 Mile… https://t.co/XJo1he9AhT— UCLA Lib Spec Coll (@UCLA Lib Spec Coll)1507136478.0
17. An image of rows and rows of classic radiator shells waiting to be installed at a Depression-era Pontiac plant.
Q: What are these? A: Pontiac radiator shells, circa 1937. Q: Where is this photo? A: @HBSBaker #AskAnArchivist… https://t.co/9nxSKI4uFT— Working Knowledge (@Working Knowledge)1507135835.0
18. A handwritten letter from Sigmund Freud.
Cool KSHS collection: Menninger Foundation archives include Sigmund Freud letters. https://t.co/SgKrkCXYZh… https://t.co/YuP2QPSDId— Kansas History (@Kansas History)1507135195.0
19. Ancient technology.
Q: Do you have floppy discs in the archives? A: Yes! Our e-records archivist helps preserve data on lots of outdate… https://t.co/yQwHCudgzb— UMD SpecColl (@UMD SpecColl)1507136506.0
20. Proof that Queen Elizabeth II is apparently a secret football fan.
You voted & the results are in! Who's #UMD's most famous visitor? Queen Elizabeth II - shown here at a football gam… https://t.co/1iBZlLv0u3— UMD SpecColl (@UMD SpecColl)1507125652.0
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."
Q:What's the coolest thing you found in the archives lately? A:How about a 1983 police memo when Ozzy Osborne playe… https://t.co/6dyxCdnd3Z— UMD SpecColl (@UMD SpecColl)1507123820.0
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.
#AskAnArchivist When people ask "so is everything digitized?" I usually reply with a photo of our caverns, which I… https://t.co/TdB4aZ1dDU— UMN Libraries (@UMN Libraries)1507128190.0
You can happily scroll through dozens more like this using the #AskAnArchivist hashtag.
Q: Describe the role of an archivist in haiku form: Archivists connect us between the record of the past and present #AskAnArchivist— M+ (@M+)1507101297.0
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.