An Extremely Detailed Catalogue of Cats' Whiskers

Thursday January 30, 2020 Written by Kate

Cat detritus isn't normally a subject of fascination for archivists (or anyone else, for that matter). But it does appear to have inspired the curiosity of Janet Gnosspelius, a 14-year-old girl with a passion for documentation. From 1940 to 1942, she collected cat whiskers from around her home to weave into a handmade record book, which includes details about each whisker and where it was discovered.

"Found on dining room hearth-rug," reads one entry from 1941. "Under back door draught protected," reads another.

No word on why her feline housemates inspired such fervent examination, but Gnosspelius, the daughter of British sculptor Barbara Collingwood and civil engineer Oscar Gnosspelius, did grow up to work in local history and building conservation. A lifelong love of bureaucracy, perhaps?