This summer my mother and I finished indexing a book that Li Feng and I have been working on since 2005, Reading and Literacy in Early China. My mother worked on it continuously for six months; I helped her on and off but then worked on it continuously for the final six weeks.
Below is a picture of us in the heat of labor in late May.
I've also attached a pair of the 5000 index cards she produced for this project. These things are now rarely seen, I think, so they're good to document here. Not so very long ago, the only way to find books in a library was though a "card catalogue" — a huge collection of these things, typed in recent decades and neatly handwritten before that, organized and cross-referenced by title, author, major topics, and other features. Cataloguing books — deciding how someone might want want to find them and creating cards accordingly — was a major subprofession among librarians, and my mother has a degree in it from Columbia's defunct Library School.
As you can imagine, the contents of this pair of cards have been copied and recopied over and over again as the material has grown fuller and more complete. The "xx" notations at the bottom of each card are for tracking cross-references to "literacy" that appear in other entries.
I used LaTeX and other tools to produce camera-ready copy for the publisher. With heavy editing, the index shrank from an initial 100 pages to the final 44 that are appearing in the book. Alas, much useful information had to be deleted in the process.