The Reader‘s archive is vast and varied, going back to 1971. Every day in Archive Dive, we’ll dig through and bring up some finds.

This object, gentle readers, is a Rolodex. It was used by our elders to store addresses, phone numbers, Hotmail e-mail addresses, and other important contact information—and sometimes sensitive information like employee social security numbers. In the olden days, they put all this information on little cards, then arranged them in this contraption in alphabetical order. If you were looking for somebody, you turned the knob on the side and all the cards rolled. Hence Rolodex. The size of one’s Rolodex was believed to be roughly proportional to one’s klout.

The Reader had three Rolodexes, kept in the editor’s office on the administrative assistant’s desk, because one was not enough to contain the paper’s collective knowledge of people’s whereabouts. They now live in the Reader editor’s office, although most of the contact information is now obsolete. As best I can tell from a quick flip through, the keeper of the Rolodexes stopped making updates around 2006, which was two office moves ago. Still, it’s pretty cool to know you have access to what were once Studs Terkel and Matt Groening’s phone numbers.