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The Collect-O-Rama case displaying pieces of Bill Keaggy's The Grocery List Collection.
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John M. Olin Library, Collect O'Rama Case

The Grocery List Collection

Have you ever found a stranger’s grocery list at the store? Bill Keaggy has amassed almost 4,000 of them over the last 20 years.

The Collect-O-Rama case displaying parts of The Grocery List Collection along with two books that were compiled of and from the collection as well.
Bill Keaggy’s Milk Eggs Vodka celebrates the grocery list by showcasing pieces of Keaggy’s collection accompanied by short essays. A copy of Bill’s book is also available at the Special Collections Reference Desk for viewing.

Making lists is a uniquely human activity. Lists tell us a lot about neighbors, friends, ancestors, species, and ourselves. Found lists—especially lists of things wanted and needed, such as groceries—provide tiny glimpses into private lives.

Grocery lists are usually honest, unfiltered reflections of a person. Simple needs, amusing quirks, odd tastes. Most found lists are anonymous; just scribbled words on a page. But they are inherently relatable; the list-maker needs food or household goods, just like the rest of humanity.

This project has been featured in places like The New York Times, The New Yorker, L.A. Times, Chicago Tribune, The Guardian, Bon Appétit, NPR, CBC, The Kelly Clarkson Show, and Jimmy Kimmel Live. Those interested can hear about other “noticing” projects in Bill Keaggy’s 2022 TEDxVienna talk titled How to Find Attention, Mindfulness, and Creativity in the Ordinary.

The Grocery List is a curated exhibition of Bill Keaggy’s collection. Interested in seeing more? Find the digitized list collection at The Grocery List Collection website. Find out more about Bill Keaggy and his projects on the Bill Keaggy website.