knight17 a year ago

This is similar to Farley file [0], a file kept by politicians to record all the people they meet; and they meet a lot of people daily, dealing with a variety of issues, so it is good to write everything down. When it is time to meet them again, they now know enough details about the person to appear considerate and caring: their name, spouse's name, last topic discussed etc.

It gets its name from James Farley, Franklin Roosevelt's campaign manager:

>> A bad memory is not a great asset in politics, so Jim Farley devised a clever remedy: he kept an index card of every person that Roosevelt met, and recorded the names of spouses, children, hobbies, education, place of employment—any personal information that you could reasonably expect a "good friend" to remember. If Roosevelt returned to the same area, Farley would hand him the index cards of everyone he might meet. << [1]

In Rome, they had slaves for this sort of thing, called Nomenclators [2]. Their duty was to remind their master of people he had met earlier.

[0] :

[1] :

[2] :

Overtonwindow a year ago

A dear friend of mine was a lobbyist in Washington, DC for 40 years. When he retired I was tasked with helping him export his Outlook contacts. IIRC it came to around 40,000 contacts which to was astonishing. Senators, Diplomats, lobbyists, the works. It's amazing the contacts you can collect over a career.

qznc a year ago

I recently made an effort to groom my addressbook better. This article shows me that I have still a lot room to the upside.

Are there any details what he recorded? It seems to be more than just the contact information:

> One Kissinger card mentions the time when Queen Elizabeth II knighted him in June 1995. “He is not to be referenced as Sir Henry as he is an American,’’ the card said, with the word “not” underlined for emphasis.

  • arca_vorago a year ago

    Personally I think the original 13th amendment should have been passed.

    D Rockefeller was a very immoral and amoral, borderline treasonous man.

    • lightbyte a year ago

      For those curious on what the "original 13th amendment" was:

      >That "missing" proposal was called the “Titles of Nobility Amendment” (or TONA). It sought to ban any American citizen from receiving any foreign title of nobility or receiving foreign favors, such as a pension, without congressional approval. The penalty was loss of citizenship.


cafard a year ago

Maybe thirty years ago, John Dvorak wrote a jocular piece about what we'd all be reading if personal computers hadn't taken off. Among his possibilities were "advances in rolodexes", as I recall.

cm2187 a year ago

100,000 people met in 50 years, that’s meeting 5 new people every day including week ends. That seems hardly believable. The article probably meant 100,000 encounters. Which is still massive.

  • PurpleRamen a year ago

    He lived in a time were personal meetings were still very normal. And he was in a trade were meeting many people was normal and beneficial. I would say anyone in that business meets that amount of people and even more. But he was one of the rare people who also documentated it well, while being relevant enough, to make an article about it.

    Meeting people doesn't neccessarly mean he know them all personaly, or had more then a handful encounters with them. Like if you have a big company-meeting with dozen on dozen relevant people, it's quite normal to go around and exchange contact-information, talk a bit, and never meet again or use the contact-info.

    • hkmurakami a year ago

      A lot of these encounters also seem to be at galas, fundraisers, etc where you'll be introduced to many many people through the night.

  • CPLX a year ago

    I would imagine that at least a portion of his life must have involved sitting in his office and meeting a long line of people waiting outside sequentially, each coming in to ask him for a favor, pitch an investment, or similar -- the image in my head being something like the opening scene of the Godfather.

    I'd imagine doing that one could have substantive somewhat personal meetings with 25-50 people or more on an average working day. Not to mention larger gatherings, speaking to groups, a day spent in the halls of a legislature, or similar.

kharms a year ago

My favorite part:

    [2001] Bill Gates note: see data base for add'l entries
    [2007] Gerald Ford note: See Rolodex Card
Maybe they tried using a CRM but Rockefeller wasn't it to it.
nwrk a year ago

Excellent article. Thanks for posting.

Non paywal link for fellow HNs

  • davidcollantes a year ago

    That outline reads at some point "page 1 of 18", but it seems too short to have been 18 pages. Is it the complete article?

    • matt4077 a year ago

      It includes a slideshow with 18 images.

      Here's a bookmarklet to bypass the WSJ paywall: javascript:window.location.href='http(s)://'+encodeURIComponent(window.location.href);

      • nyc111 a year ago

        This does't seem to work I get: Cannot GET /articles/http(s)://

        Is there another workaround? I'm curious to see the slide show. I like index cards myself. Can anyone post just the slideshow?

      • yodon a year ago

        You may not be in the news business, but this post is equivalent to posting cracks of software or exploits for gaining free access to SaaS offerings. Yes, it may be within your technical ability to do so, no it’s not what HN threads are for.

        • LeifCarrotson a year ago

          It's not unintended or modified behavior, it's more akin to a coupon code which the WSJ intends for anyone with said code to be allowed to use.

          • yodon a year ago

            Not really, but you can tell yourself that.

        • leesalminen a year ago

          WSJ allows FB clicks to bypass the paywall. Is there really a difference if this user navigated to FB, typed the article name in the search box and clicked on the result?

          • mulmen a year ago


            If there wasn't a difference then why bother with the bookmarklet?

frik a year ago

  In August 2015, Rockefeller staffers tossed the oversize Rolodex machine 
  custom-built Rolodex machine that stored about 200,000 3-by-5-inch cards
  They [cards] now nearly fill a wall of filing cabinet
Any photos of that monster Rolodex machine?
  • nerdponx a year ago

    I would hope they took video of it in operation! That'd be some great material for YouTube/Reddit browsing.