Before there was Yahoo! Answers, determined knowledge-seekers sent their dumb questions to reference librarians, the brave men and women dedicated to answering all patron inquiries, no matter how strange. Thankfully, those at the New York Public Library had the foresight to write these questions down, including ones pre-dating the library’s reference desk itself.
Now NYPL Information Architect Morgan Holzer is uploading some of the most remarkable and hilarious examples to Instagram with the hashtag #letmelibrarianthatforyou.
“When they heard one they hadn’t heard before, that was a little weird or a little funny, they might write it down,” Holzer told Mental Floss. “Or if it was a hard one that they might have to ask someone later on or couldn’t answer right away, they would write it down.”
Check out some of our favorites above and see the 1940s equivalent of Googling “scalp pain.”