List-Making – A Reccurring Art Form

List-making: a peculiar yet familiar inhabitant of so many archival collections. Umberto Eco loved list making.  So did Susan Sontag.  It is human nature — to create a list, to make a secret promise.  An inevitable reminder. A curious piece of wisdom requiring documentation.  I once processed the personal papers of a noted professor and pioneer in the field of cardio arrhythmia.  In that particular collection, there was an impressive volume of lists all containing the same repeating reminder: don’t forget to pick up pants.

So, in the spirit of list making, I:

  1. felt compelled to share a few here
  2. rifled around reviewing some of my favorites
  3. selected a sampling that were notable and/or art-worthy, and
  4. now wish to further consider the repeating themes of list-styles I’ve stumbled upon in various archival collections over the years.

(To view these lists in greater detail, simply click on the image.)
















Lists featured in this post can be seen in the personal papers of poet Laura Benet / Guide to The Benet Family Papers at Vassar College, and The Papers of fiction writer Beverly Coyle, also at the Archives and Special Collections Library at Vassar College.


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