A Random Walk Through The Library of Congress
April 5, 2019 3:18 PM   Subscribe

LOC Serendipity: Curated and Randomly Generated Selections from the Library of Congress is a website that simulates the experience of exploring a library and skimming eye-catching or interesting titles using the vast troves of digital resources held by the Library of Congress. It was designed and created by Metafilter's own metasunday. [via mefi projects]
posted by mandolin conspiracy (18 comments total) 64 users marked this as a favorite
AMAZING. Such a fun way to find random stuff. This tool is great also because it links to stuff that is on LOC, on the Internet Archive, or just a downloadable PDF. Easy peasy. Right now I am reading about how to make Mrs. Harriet Hubbard's Recamier Moth and Freckle Lotion.
posted by jessamyn at 3:58 PM on April 5, 2019 [4 favorites]

A vast black hole of text waiting to suck you in, never to be seen again. Bye!
posted by njohnson23 at 4:00 PM on April 5, 2019 [5 favorites]

May I say that this is a delightfully accessible project? Thank you, indeed. As a totally blind book lover I appreciate it very much.
posted by Alensin at 4:04 PM on April 5, 2019 [12 favorites]

Most of these titles can be Blanche DuBoised, for example: "I have always depended on ... the influence of monarchs"
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 4:11 PM on April 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

I love love love the Library of Congress. It's one of the most beautiful interiors in DC, and I also love the idea of the LOC. this interface is fantastic and so pleasing on the eye. Thanks for this!
posted by bluesky43 at 4:25 PM on April 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

posted by evilDoug at 7:22 PM on April 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

Oh, this is great! Right now I'm enjoying reading about the Minnesota Legislature sessions of 1913. Temperance, Railway freight shipping rates, and street car lobbying, which mentioned Representative Davis "calling out" Mayor Keller "Who do you represent, the people or the street railway company? It appears to me that the bill favors nobody but the company." Which the account of the session then adds, "Mayor Keller turned without a word at this "slam" and walked away." I was greatly amused to see "slam" used in this context back in 1913. The recounting of the temperance debate was also a lot of fun, with the point of view taken by the book that strongly anti-boozing.
posted by gusottertrout at 7:29 PM on April 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

Even better, we now have access to The Secret of the Successful Use of the Ouija Board thanks to the Library of Congress, where "The remarkable and illuminating data herein quoted, was received in the presence of three or more persons at all times, in the calm isolation of interior Alaska, in 1917, by means of a Ouija Board."

Some selections from the book explaining the strange and subtle workings of the Ouija board:

To the careless observer, an Ouija board looks simple and inoffensive enough to be a quiescent toy.
So does the summer breeze!
So does the smooth ocean!
So does the majesty of calm and beautiful nature upon the surface.
But like the breeze gone wild; the ocean in its active moods; Mother Nature, when stirred, the Ouija board is now admittedly by those who know, an inspired, purposeful wireless telegraph to the beyond; powerful, deep, mysterious beyond the limits of our mental possibilities—as I shall try to explain.

So, I say again, that, as simple as the use of the Ouija board appears to be, it is, as explained by our spiritual dictators, a new, exact science, mental, physical and spiritual.
In its plan, it is more than a parallel to the wireless telegraph.
The human mentality of the loved ones gone beyond, leaving only the earthly body behind to enrich the earth, is the sender.
The solar plexus—that never sleeping brain of the individual, is a switchboard, or a receiving station.
The nerve sentries, or messengers, of the human body fulfill their duty as wires; and the mental brain is the final receiving station.
There you have it in a nutshell.
And the great secret of why some individuals can successfully use the board, and some can not, is, that the successful person MUST HAVE, so to speak, a diseasedly sensitive solar plexus.

posted by gusottertrout at 12:28 AM on April 6, 2019 [5 favorites]

Metafilter: a diseasedly sensitive solar plexus.
posted by hippybear at 4:19 AM on April 6, 2019 [2 favorites]

Incredible! What a good idle time browser.

My first look, I found 1912’s Indoor games and socials for boys which taught me of “Bag and Stick”, which is just a piñata but in a bag.
posted by little onion at 5:18 AM on April 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

Wait holy shit, “Hot Hands”:
One player stoops over and covers his eyes with hands. The rest of the group gather round him and one hits him a slap with open hand. The object of the game is for the boy who is down to guess who struck him. If he guesses right, that boy takes his place
posted by little onion at 5:25 AM on April 6, 2019 [2 favorites]

Thank you! I'm reading about Meal Preparations for the Sick. This is a wonderful resource!!
posted by KleenexMakesaVeryGoodHat at 6:07 AM on April 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

This is so great! The titles alone are fascinating. I’m reading a manual about preparing meals in orphanages.
posted by bookmammal at 7:26 AM on April 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

I found these weird little red stickers on some of the books and asked a pal at LOC if he knew what they were (admittedly at 9 pm on a Friday night, whoops)
posted by jessamyn at 8:38 AM on April 6, 2019 [3 favorites]

I can’t believe how much good and interesting stuff this seems to find - but every trawl pulls up another handful of little gems.
posted by Segundus at 9:43 AM on April 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

This is helpful - I've been feeling low on inspiration recently, so this is immensely helpful. Currently on "An enquiry into the progressive colonization of the earth, and the origin of nations; illustrated by a map of the geography of ecclesiastical and ancient civil history."
posted by yueliang at 10:47 AM on April 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

I’m finding this works really well on mobile, too.

The Opium Habit: with suggestions as to the remedy (1868).
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:58 AM on April 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

Oh hey I got a cool answer to my question: books labeled to be evacuated during WWII.
posted by jessamyn at 3:36 PM on April 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

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