Please suggest a method of keeping notes, clippings, ideas for sermons, etc., in orderly arrangement so that they are available at a moment's notice.
My way would hardly be dignified by the word "method." It is just a way of putting things where I can find them. Fifty years ago, back in 1887, as I found myself evidently settling down into editorial work, I began to keep useful extracts in marked envelopes. That is all I have ever done. Doubtless many have a more systematic method of filing, for I see all kinds of improved office filing devices.
But as for me, I have a number of these open-end, clasp envelopes, size 5 x 7%, piled up on several shelves in my cupboard, filled with notes I may want someday. A brief note I came across last month may lie next to one I secured fifty years ago on the same topic. In dealing with historical prophecy, I may find in an old excerpt a phrase that comes closer to the Scriptural language than anything I have of recent times. The main search, it seems to me, is for statements by secular writers who redraw the very picture of the prophecy. So, on my shelves I have these oblong envelopes awaiting call to service. I will list a few of the classifications under which I have brought my material, the names of which appear on the outside of the respective envelopes.
On Daniel: Daniel 2, Daniel 7 (empires), Daniel 7 (Papacy), Daniel 8, Daniel 9, Daniel 12:4, etc., with an envelope for each chapter.
On Revelation: Revelation 2, Revelation 3, Revelation 9 (Saracens), Revelation 9 (Turks), Revelation 12, etc.
Miscellaneous Topics: History, Chronology, Prophecy, Nineveh, Babylon, Tyre, Palestine, Petra and Moab, Primitive Traditions, Gnosticism, Spiritualism, Modernism, the Bible, Textual Notes, Health and Temperance, Matthew 24, Signs of the Times, Reformation, Religious Liberty, Early Advent Times, Our People, What Others Say, Selections on Missions, Spirit of Prophecy, etc.
There are many other topics, but I have tried to avoid gathering a mass of general extracts. I preserve only short 'notes—a few sentences or paragraphs. I try to have note paper in my pocket all the time, and read anything that might be useful someday. If I hear some one tell something of special interest in a meeting or conversation, I make a note of it. From most of my trips I come home with an envelope marked, "For Distribution," and when time permits, these notes are filed in the proper envelopes on my shelves. One practice I follow is never to trust my memory. I try to get accurate information from periodical, book, or speaker. If I take a note from a speaker, I write it down quickly at the time. My early stenographic experience has often helped here.
I do not present this as a system or method, but it is a way. It has not taken any time to speak of, and has enabled me to lay my hands on many an item that otherwise would have been lost.
W. A. Spicer
[General Conference Field Secretary}