Daily Distribution of Labor

Sometime during the early 1900s Lost Signals instituted a record-keeping system whose methods were labor based rather than item-archive based. Previous systems of categorization (dating back to our founding in the 1830s) had centered on the archival materials themselves; recording the labor necessary for archiving and cataloging was incidental. What do we know about why the shift to a record system based on labor, not objects? As usual, there is an abundance of physical evidence marking the evolution to labor, but the meaning of this evidence remains murky.

What we know is this: around 1902, Grace Gomez devised the “Daily Distribution of Labor” pages, printing them in booklets labelled “Time Book.” Each employee was given one of these booklets per month in order to keep a daily record of his or her labor in the archives. We’re fortunate that, despite the numerous purges of the archives, there remained–squirreled away beneath a cement floor–a complete, blank booklet, a page of which is pictured below. Why the booklets (and almost all references to Grace Gomez) were purged is not exactly clear, although we have our dark theories.


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