Writing in Books: From Abraham Lincoln to the Present

When I was a kid, every other text book had some form of the following:

One page would have “turn to page 56” scribbled in it
Page 56 would say “turn to page 135”
Page 135 would say “turn to page 62”
…and so on, until a page that said “you’re a nerd to follow me!”

I only ever saw this in Iowa. Was it popular in other places?

Certainly writing in text books is nothing new; this was written in Abraham Lincoln’s person “sums book:”

Abraham Lincoln is my name
and with my pen I wrote the same
I wrote it with both haste and speed
and left it here for fools to read!

Not exactly risque, though Lincoln WAS known for his ability to tell off-color jokes later in life.

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  1. elsewhere.org

    The "turn to page X" thing in textbooks was common at my elementary school on Whidbey Island, Washington, in the early 80s. I also saw it, though to a lesser extent, in junior high in Seattle in the mid-80s.

  2. Anonymous

    LOL, I saw "turn to page [x] in middle school — Philadelphia, early 1980's. 🙂

  3. Anonymous

    P.S. Speaking of Abraham Lincoln, have you heard this one?

    Lincoln, Lincoln, I've been thinkin',
    what the Hell have you been drinkin'?
    Was it whiskey, was it wine?
    Oh, my god, it's turpentine!

    ~ heard in philly, 1975 or so

  4. Anonymous

    I'm in 8th grade now, and this is in ALL the textbooks at my school in Gridley, California. Usually when we get the the 'secret message' at the end, though, someone else will have scribbled under it (in terrible penmanship because they're trying to write in their books without the teachers seeing): Yur a fuking faget this s soooo old'
    Yes, most of the kids at my school need a little extra academic help.

  5. Eric Jones

    I used to write in books all the time. (in South Carolina in the late 90's. in 6th grade) Except instead of telling them to turn to a page, I would ask a question, and each answer would go to a different page. Turn to 53 if you hate the teacher or turn to 104 if you like this subject. And so on. I did the whole book, with no ending point. I discovered that year, that at the start of each year, they give you a form to fill out to report any damages to books, and it was smart to lie and say there was writing all over the book, and any expected damanges you would probably do to it during the year.


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