Friday, March 13, 2009

The 1902 "Busy Man's Friend"

In 1902 J. L. Nichols & Co. published a book by Professor J. L. Nichols called The Busy Man's Friend or Guide to Success by Facts and Figures. Originally written in 1896, this book begins with a quote from Gibbon, the author of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire:

Every person has two educations, one which he receives from others, and one more important which he gives to himself.
This book fills 250 pages with the best advice, guidelines, formulas and information needed to be successful and efficient in 1902. The book includes information concerning receipts, notes, bills, banks, power of attorney, law, legal forms, corporations, counterfeit money, swindling schemes, facts from the census of 1900 and computations. Below is some of the material from the section on computations that were used in the day. Remember vocational education would not be added to the public schools with federal support until the Smith-Hughes Act of 1917.

On page 223 we find "A Complete Set of Carpenter's Rules" including information on how to use a carpenter's square. I learned how to use a carpenter's square from an old carpenter many years ago when he taught me how to figure the length of rafters and layout a set of stair stringers. This section also includes the following information and more:
  • How to find the number of shingles for a roof
  • How to find the number of laths for a room (laths were nailed to the studs and covered with plaster before sheet rock was developed)
  • How to find the area of a gable
  • How to find the number of feet of stock boards to cover a house or barn

Other useful information provided for a man in 1902 included:

How to find the size of a barrel.

How to find the number of common bricks in a wall.

How to calculate the weight of coal in a box.

How to find the distance traveled in ploughing.

How to figure the capacity of a wagon box.

How to measure ear corn in a crib.

How to measure hay in the mow or stack.

How to figure the advantage of an evener on a neck yoke for horses or oxen.

This book also explains how to secure a signature from a person who cannot write:

In the section of this book that addresses mortgages the author entitles the section: The Mortgage Grip Crushing the American People. The book then states the following facts to prove that "if the farmer does not lift his mortgage, it will lift him":
In 1890 there were 4,777,698 mortgages in force in the United States,
amounting to $6,019,679,985. The annual interest charged on these is

1 comment:

BillyMozingo said...

I just came across a copy of this book on my bookshelf. Planning to put it on ebay, is it of value?