Twelve Little Cards
With the growth of Harvard from a small provincial college into a great University, a unique paranoia has swept the ranks of local officialdom, furrowing brows throughout University Hall. The lurking fear is that somehow, in the operations of the gigantic administrative machine, a student might get lost in the shuffle.
Marshalling their bureaucratic ingenuity, the Registrar's Office, the Dean's Office and the Alumni records Office have over the years concocted a scheme skillfully designed to keep track of their flock. A relatively simple plan, it requires 12 cards in 12 different filing cabinets spread through eight offices, for each of the 10,000 students in the university and works something like this:
At fall registration each student is presented with two pastel-colored strips of cardboard, salmon for freshmen, buff for sophomores, pink for juniors, white for seniors and yellow for graduate students. On them he must write his name 13 times, his college address 11 times, home address nine times and telephone number seven times. In addition, he has to give his parent's or guardian's name four times and his marital status twice.
After registration the completed forms are trucked to the University Printing Office where a staff from the Alumni Records Office begins the two week job of alphabetizing them. From a chaotic, multicolored 11-foot stack the cards are separated into 26 piles according to the first letter of the last name and then each of he piles is neatly sliced by machine into 12 sets of three by five cards.
Of the 12 kinds of cards, four end up at the University Information Office in Weld Hall. One, the University Geographical File Card, is stashed away in a corner of the office and used only by a few inquisitive students who want to know how many Harvard men come form their home town. The other three, variously labeled University Registration Card, Information Card and University Card, are all used to provide facts for the women who answer University Information calls.
Of the remaining eight cards, two, the Directory Card and the Harvard Alumni Record Card, go to the Alumni Records office on the top floor of Widner. The Directory cards are used solely for making up the University Directory which is published in mid-November, but for some reason they are kept in a file even after the directory appears. The Alumni Record Card is the one card of the twelve which is discarded during the year, but only after the information on it has been transferred to an Alumni Card, kept in the office even after the alumnus dies.
With 12 little cards and 13 signatures, the men in University Hall might well relax, secure in the knowledge that they have their 10,000 sheep well within the fold. But, after a term, the old doubts creep back again and at spring registration each student is confronted with two more cards, just to make sure.