Sunday, November 27, 2011

Analog Record Keeping and Kansas City History

I'm plucking out cards from cancelled sales for typing use.  This is the back of a card like the one below.

The story of one customer and his watch.
Each drawer held hundreds, if not thousands, of customer records.  The earliest were from the 1920s and the latest from the 1960s.  The entries from the '50s on weren't as interesting since they added small appliance repairs.
I have a certain nerdy fascination with forgotten history gleaned from esoterica.  Out of all the antiquities I looked at during the October First Fridays' sale at Good JuJu, this was my only purchase other than a 1960s vintage Girl Scout Handbook for my wife.

There are many uninteresting stories in this collection, but that is made up for by the really interesting customer stories.  I settled on this one because it contained a record of a house call to repair the dashboard clock on a "Ladies Red Buick".  In looking at the customer addresses, I've come to the conclusion that this jeweler generally served the upper middle class and above in Kansas City proper.  There are many monied addresses along Ward Parkway in the file.

The drawer full of record cards was one of many.  In talking to the seller, I found out that the whole lot of drawers came from a single huge estate sale cabinet that was in very poor condition.  So out came the drawers for sale to crafters, creative types and nerds.

I guess since I am using backs for typing, that makes me semi-creative.  The fact that I am blogging about it places me squarely in the nerd category.  At any rate, I have lots of fun reading material to pick through.

Typecast Courtesy of the Royal Futura 800 (Borg Edition)


  1. Man, how I wish people still wrote by hand more than they tap away at touch screens. Give it ten or twenty years and people will be signing their names on a touch screen by drawing an 'X'.

    Great handwriting on those cards. Thanks for the post, Dwayne!

  2. I remember Ward Parkway as being spectacular; almost unbelievably wealthy. The houses look like small palaces.

    Very interesting tidbits can be gleaned from these jewelry customer cards! Hope you share some more stories.

  3. I love old paper records. Of course they're less efficient than digital ones, but they are also much more durable -- and they have personality, thanks to the handwriting, the hand-stamped dates, etc. They are also private and secure, when compared to digital records; this is a major concern when it comes to medical files.

    Thanks for sharing this.

  4. As a person with truly horrible handwriting, I appreciate holding samples of fine penmanship.

    Teeritz has a good point regarding the degeneration of writing in general. The whole family has text capable phones - a blessing and a curse. I could keep in touch with them while away for the week, but my own messages are terse and incomplete.

    Cameron: Your recollection of Ward Parkway is still the case. There are many fabulous houses down by the Plaza.

    I will make a point of sifting through the records for future posts!


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