I’ve always been particular about how my books are organized. In fact, when I was about 12 and had about 12 Civil War books, those slim volumes stacked in a very precise order on the file cabinets that sat beside my research (aka school) desk. One of my brother “stole” a book and wanted to see how long before I knew it was gone; apparently, it was 10 minutes and I tracked him down and recaptured the book about Robert E. Lee. I think a little bit of nerdiness, a little OCD, and a little photographic memory skill has played a part in how I keep track of my home library and why I insist on storing books in a certain order.
Anyway…since my current library is not lined with antique wood shelves or home to a cute kitten, I thought I’d share how the books are currently organized…because there really is a reason. Working left to right and up and down, here goes:
Closest to the research desk are the books I’m currently using. (Right now, cavalry and horse artillery stuff). When I’m finished with that topic, they may be shelved as a “collection” or added to the appropriate shelves for biography, battle, units, etc.
Next is the Shenandoah collection of books, shelved in a semi-sequential order—starting with Jackson and the Valley Campaign, then the New Market Collection, local civilian voices, and the 1864 Campaign/Burning.
There’s are shelves for Confederate biography and primary sources and the same for Union.
Two small shelves hold some volumes of Civil War fiction, memory studies, and books on slavery and emancipation.
Next is the civilian section, which houses all civilian biography and primary sources (except Shenandoah Valley, that to the left in its own regional collection. Confusing, I know…)
The civilian section merges into Civil War medical volumes and memoirs, and there is a little overlap there with the nurses and Sanitary Commission.
Finally! Battle and campaign books and these are organized by sequence of events. The few regimental volumes and some brigade and corps studies, take up another shelf.
There’s a shelf of what I term “general war” – that’s where Battle Cry of Freedom, overview soldier studies, Battles and Leaders, and those type of books live.
Next comes the all ECW shelf which is probably going to need more space pretty soon!
And at the far end are some shelves with Rev War, 19th Century Whaling, 19th Lighthouses, World War II books, a little philosophy, and theory books on warfare. Is that all?
Well, Bruce Catton and Shelby Foote’s volumes and a few others that look especially nice stack on top of the bookcase. And my literary classics (Jane Austen, Laura Ingalls, Sir Walter Scott, etc. ect.) get shelved in my bedroom. That’s all—I think!
How do you organize your books? Do you have a catalog for your home library?