Home 9 Unusual items in our collections

9 Unusual items in our collections

Oh sure, you think you know everything the library has to offer. Dictionaries, medical journals, computer labs, swanky couches to sleep through your physics class on – you’ve seen it all. Little do you know that beneath the flimsy veneer of the mundane lurks an assortment of the arcane, the mysterious, the puzzling – and the just-plain-weird. All of these items can be found in the campus’s main library.

Famous Witchbook of the Pennsylvania Dutch

Subtitled “Famous Witchbook of the Pennsylvania Dutch”, this volume contains an index of early 19th-century magic spells and folk cures. Troubled by hysterics and colds? Worry not, friend! Simply “pull off your shoes and stockings, run your finger in between all the toes, and smell it. This will certainly effect a cure.” Got a big poker night coming up? Try this: “tie the heart of a bat with a red silken string to the right arm, and you will win every game at cards you play.” Your modern sensibilities may compel you to laugh at such advice but Hohman assures the reader of its veracity, saying it was “partly derived from a work published by a Gypsy, and partly from secret writings and collected with much pain and trouble, from all parts of the world.” Now, how could you doubt a bibliography like that?

Find it at: BF 1561 H7 1971.

School Lunch Recipes

File this under “Why would you ever want to?” From our collection of government documents, this handy little guide was published in 1943. Inside, you’ll find proper government-sponsored techniques for cooking such tasty-sounding dishes as “Kidney Stew”, “Baked Bean Loaf” and “Brown Sauce.” There are also over a dozen recipes featuring something called “soya grits.” Bon Appetit!

Find it in gov docs at: A1. 38: 537.

The World of Lucha Libre

Just take a second to let that majestic image sink in. The figure emanating those heavenly rays is El Santo, world-famous practitioner of Lucha Libre, or “Free-wrestling”, undoubtedly the most celebrated and sophisticated athletic exhibition in modern history. Developed in Mexico, the sport apparently has deep ties to social and political issues like class, gender presentation and national identity. Want to know the difference between a Rudo and a Technico? Or how to execute a proper plancha? We’ve definitely got you covered.

Find it at: GV 1196.4 .S63 L48 2008.

Passenger pigeons of Manitoba

For those not in the know, the passenger pigeon (or ectopistes migratorius) was once one of the most populous bird species in North America, with migrating flocks reported to have measured hundreds of miles in diameter. I say “was” because the species was hunted to total extinction, with the last known living specimen expiring in a zoo in 1914. This report, written for the benefit of the Historical and Scientific Society of Manitoba, dates from 1905 – almost a full decade earlier. Yes, this is an original, living eyewitness account of a species that has not existed for over 100 years. It’s just one of many NDSU library materials that have been on this earth longer than you and everyone you know, but uniquely interesting as it predates its subject’s well-known and irreversible demise. Whether you’re an aspiring ornithologist or are just looking for a sobering reminder of your own mortality, don’t miss this one!

 Find it at: F 1061 .H69 no. 68.

Soldier’s Manual: Vulcan Repairer – Department of the Army

Because when your gigantic, wheeled gatling gun ain’t happy, ain’t NOBODY happy! Another from our collection of government publications, this looks like a manual you would read in Fallout to increase your weapons skill.

 Find it in gov docs at: D 101.20: 9-27 F 3/Rev.

How Much Do You Know About Glass? – Harlan Logan

Asking the real questions, this book demands hard facts. Well? How much DO you know about glass? Brush up with helpful quizzes about the making, uses and kinds of glass. Learn about the “interesting role” glass has played in fiction, fable and poetry. If you’re feeling really adventurous, chapter 12 is entitled “Home Is What You Make It Of, or Grandfather Green’s House of Glass” which sounds both intriguing and vaguely threatening. Don’t miss the Silhouette Quiz, which challenges you to identify common objects made of glass:

 A thrill a minute! Find it at TP 857 L55.

 The History & Social Influence of the Potato – Redcliffe N. Salaman

How many pages do you think you could write concerning the socioeconomic impact of a starchy, tuberous plant? If your answer is anything short of “Well over 600” then just forget it, Charley – you were beaten out way back in 1949. What could possibly fill such a tome, you ask? How about exciting chapters like “Vertues, Vices and Values,” “”The Potato in War-Time” and “The Potato in the Realm of Art?” Incredibly, the book’s index makes no mention of french fries – an oversight which cries out the need for an updated volume. Any takers?

 Find it at: SB 211 P8 S255

Shopper’s Coat – U. S. Department of Agriculture

Another helpful tract from our friendly government, this time from 1950. It serves to endorse a garment dubbed, you guessed it, a “shopper’s coat,” specially tailored to be useful in the incredibly specific event of going grocery shopping. Aiming to “make carrying a handbag unnecessary,” the coat comes equipped with a series of tiny pockets designed to hold exactly one distinct item, such as a grocery list, tissue, bus token, house key or very small pencil (attached – yes, really – by a chain). There’s even a super-dorky over-the-shoulder satchel that can hold one, single paper grocery bag – and protect it from the rain! If you miss out on what will surely be this winter’s must-wear style, you have only yourself to blame.

 Find it in gov docs at: A1 .35 : 271.

The World Encyclopedia of Cartoons – Maurice Horn ed.

Quick, what year was Mickey Mouse first introduced? What’s Bart Simpson’s middle name? What are the names of Popeye’s nephews? If these and other questions keep you awake at night, look no further than this 7-volume (!) anthology that literally covers everything from the Addams Family to Ziggy. It’s hard to imagine why you might need to know these things – maybe you’re writing a sociology paper and want to make an ill-advised Tasmanian devil metaphor? – but we’re not here to editorialize. If you need it, it’s here for you. By the way, Popeye’s nephews are named Pipeye, Peepeye, Pupeye and Poopeye. I know, right? You’re welcome.

Find it in reference at: NC 1325 .W67 1999


Shane Thielges, Reference and Interlibrary Loan Tech

June 2018

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Last updated: 12/29/2017