Duck Duck Book

23 – index to how to do it
08.16.2005, 12:04 am
Filed under: technology

Index to how to do it information.
Wooster, Ohio : Norman Lathrop Enterprises, 1963-1999.
[MCL call number: R-602 L35i, one copy reference only in the Periodicals Room at Central Library]

Popular Mechanics used to be a great magazine. It was chock full of handy little articles describing household projects, science experiments, and tips for facilitating the smooth workings of modern life. Wondering what to do with all those leftover scraps of wood from your furniture-building project last winter? Need to figure out how to build a better birdhouse, or find a fix for that leaky dryer hose? If you had these needs in the 1950s or 60s, Popular Mechanics would have been able to help, or at the very least, the magazine would inspire you to new heights of project-dom by its quaint but practical example. But, so what? This is great if you want to browse through back issues, but what if you have a particular task in mind?

Enter the Index to How To Do It Information. This handy periodical indexed articles that gave you the poop on the practical side of life, from 1963 through 1999. How-to articles from Popular Mechanics, Cloth Doll, Shutterbug, Replica Wrap-Up, Mother Earth News, and many other magazines were included (there’s a nice list at the publisher’s website). Look up the subject you think your project fits into, and the Index will provide a list of magazine articles that tell you how to do it.

The main contents of Index to How To Do It Information is this list of articles, arranged by subject. Within each subject, there is a list of magazines, and the articles from each magazine are arranged chronologically. Like many print indexes, the Index to How To Do It has little helper entries in case you think of a different word than the one they’ve used, so “macadamia” refers you to “nut & nut culture,” “basting fabric” to “sewing,” and so on. These examples make it seem as if the entries tend to the less specific, but there are some pretty tight categories : “lobelia,” “napkin ring,” and “turnip” (though the last has a see also – “rutabaga”). The Index is in two volumes, so if you want to make sure you’ve seen the whole range of possible articles on nuts and nut culture, you need to make sure you’re looking through the whole set — there is a volume for 1963-1989, and second one for 1990-99. I’m sure you’ll find it useful the next time you need a little kick-start on a practical project.

[n.b., please see the addendum to this entry, dated 2.16.2006]


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