Order of the Kohlrabi


History of and Criteria for the Order of the Kohlrabi Award



The officers of ASI rely on many people: committee heads, board members, chapter leaders, bean counters, just plain hard workers, and even a few gadflies. They work for little personal return and provide an inordinate amount of support for ASI. Traditionally, the President and President-Elect of ASI thank these people at the annual banquet and present them with a small token of esteem. There are no specific criteria for who is mentioned, beyond giving service to ASI beyond and above the call of duty. The officers consult with board members and committee chairs in compiling a list of people who have been important to the society in the past year. Prior to the Galveston conference, I was racking my brain for an appropriate gift that was affordable and that people would actually want to have. There are only so many keyrings and letter openers that a person can actually use. I was, at the time, working on a book on Burgundian artwork in the fifteenth century, so naturally my mind turned to the great medieval orders of merit, induction into which was a way for European kings to reward their most important followers: The Order of the Garter, the Order of the Golden Fleece, etc. And I thought, why not an Order of the Kohlrabi for indexers? It is, after all, our official vegetable.*

Artie Rice, cousin of indexer Rachel Rice, is our official jeweller. His company produced a die from a drawing of a kohlrabi (taken from a seventeenth-century woodcut from a botany textbook), which was turned into golden (colored) pins. If we don't quite rise to the level of splendor of the medieval orders (no blue velvet garter with a gold buckle, I'm afraid, no ermine robes), we can at least convey our thanks and give those who have benefited ASI an interesting little pin whose history they will have fun explaining.

Although still of very recent vintage, the Order of the Kohlrabi pin has become a much-coveted prize, and so it should be. When you see someone wearing it, you're looking at a person who has selflessly given time and effort to promoting the well-being of ASI.

Kate Mertes
ASI President 2002–2003

* During a CINDEX reception at the 2000 ASI conference in Albuquerque, NM, the winning answer to the riddle "If indexers were vegetables, what vegetable would they be?" was provided by the "A–Z Team" of Bob Huerster, Caroline Parks, Loraine Schacher, Carolyn Weaver, Jan Wright, and L. Pilar Wyman:

Kohlrabi: no one knows who we are, or what to do with us.
The following year, at the instigation of Maria Coughlin, the town of Kohlrabi, CA proclaimed June 1, 2001, to be officially known as Kohlrabi Indexers Day. The proclamation reads:

Whereas– the American Society of Indexers did, at its 2000 convention, associate itself with the vegetable, kohlrabi,


Whereas– said society did contact the city of Kohlrabi, California to inform the city fathers of this honor,


Whereas–  the City of Kohlrabi, California was founded by German and Swiss immigrants who cultivated kohlrabi and valued it beyond all other root vegetables,


Whereas– the City of Kohlrabi, California welcomes and embraces all those who, like we, recognize the excellence of our namesake vegetable


Let it hereby be known that the City Council and the Mayor of Kohlrabi, California, do hereby declare that the day of June 1, 2001 be proclaimed as

Kohlrabi Indexers Day
Let all who hear this proclamation honor and laud these gifted scholars, and may no one question what it is they actually do.

By this signature placed on this page
on the 16th day of May, 2001
I declare this to be the official will of the city,

Feather Sunrunner, Mayor

Members of the Order of the Kohlrabi (in alphabetical order)

Members of the Order of the Kohlrabi (by year)