The entries are arranged in the table of contents like a dictionary's guidewords. For example:
Acronym - Automobile
If you can't find what you're looking for that way, try the comprehensive index.
Before you begin searching, you might want to spend some time just leafing through the pages to look at the vintage illustrations/photographs. Did you know that the first safety pin originated in the Bronze Age? How about a glimpse into a Duncan Phyfe tool chest circa late 18th-early 19th century? Or the snake-ring bracelet created for actress Sarah Bernhardt?
Each section is filled with special features (in addition to the entries) detailing customs (for example, signals at auctions, blind dates, and kissing), the origin of words and expressions (bringing home the bacon and busman's holiday), and people (the chewing gum king and Mr. Broadcasting).
Longer articles on advertising, designs, images, renderings, and technical genius are full of unusual pictures from ads for men's "cool, knee-length underwear" for summer to the invention of an 1868 "corpse preserver" and a musical sewing machine cover--so the kiddies can dance while you make their clothes!
So if you're writing a story set in times gone by, add realism to your tale by researching the origins of some of the things we take for granted today.
Stories Behind Everyday Things published by The Reader's Digest Association, 1980 (I found my copy for $5.98 at Half-Price Books!)
Disclaimer: I own the book and reviewed it here strictly as a resource for my fellow writers. No remuneration, other than the satisfaction of sharing information, has come my way.