The postal card above may be the second oldest overdue notice in existence (click here to see the oldest). It was mailed to a student by the Corresponding Secretary of the Parthenon Literary Society at West Virginia University (Morgantown, WV) in May of 1874. College literary societies with a library were fairly common in 18th and 19th century American academic institutions. I wrote about two such societies at Dartmouth College in an earlier post. There's a good article about these literary societies in Wikipedia. Literary societies sometimes preceded fraternities on college campuses and this was the case at West Virginia University (click here for more about this). The overdue notice which is entirely handwritten reads as follows: "Mr. Shields you are charged on the Library book of The Parthenon Literary Society with a book entitled 'American Family in Germany' and by action of the Society it becomes my duty to inform you that the book must be returned or its equivalent as soon as possible." Mr. Shields had evidently forgotten to return the book before going home to Charleston, WV for the summer.
Mary Wright Plummer
2 weeks ago