It’s All in the Search Terms

An actual conversation that took place in the office here, a couple of books back:

My co-author to me: I know that the term “latrine” didn’t come into use until World War I, when the Army got it from the French. What did they call them during the Civil War?

Me: Um. Let me look around and find out.

(Sound of typing, as I Google “US Army sanitary regulations Civil War” and find, in short order, a reference to a text entitled Customs of Service for Non-Commissioned Officers and Soldiers, written in 1864 by a Brigadier-General August Kreutz, which includes a section on camp cleanliness. A little more Googling, and I have the text itself.)

Me: The word was “sinks.”  God, I love research.

I also love the internet.  Back in the olden time, locating an obscure text like that would have required a visit to a university research library and some quality time spent with the card catalog — and while I enjoy roaming at will through the stacks as much as any bibliophile, it’s not something easily done when you live in a small town an hour and fifteen minutes north of the nearest traffic light.

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