The Card Catalog, part I

The mysterious classification system of the Institute Library – created by William A. Borden in the late 1800s.  It’s nothing like the Dewey Decimal system or the Library of Congress system.  This classification system used exclusively by the Institute Library.

The above image is of Mr. Borden’s manuscripts describing his classification system (written 1903)

The simplified version of the library’s classification system – not in beautiful calligraphy:

Non-fiction is assigned a class and a sub-class.  Each class is assigned a letter of the alphabet and each subclass is assigned a number.  For example, the letter E is assigned to the class “Arts & Trades”.  The number that follows indicates the type (or sub-class).  In this instance, the number 2 indicates “Extractive Arts.” And then there is an additional numerical field.  We are currently calling this the acquisition number for example,  E21 is Arts & Trades – Extractive Arts – General Works

The above card: J = Amusements, the top number indicates the subclass, and the bottom indicates the acquisition number for this class.

To be continued…..