The legend of Josiah S. Carberry began in 1929, when a professor posted a notice on a University Hall bulletin board claiming that Carberry – an expert on psychoceramics, the study of cracked pots – would give a lecture on "archaic Greek architectural revetments in connection with Ionian philology." An anonymous donor continued the hoax on May 13, 1955, giving $101.01 to start a fund in honor of Carberry’s "future late wife."

The gift stipulated that Carberry Day would fall on every Friday the 13th and each February 29; on those days loose change would be collected in ceramic pots scattered about campus. Eventually the University decided the money would go to the library, which would buy "such books as Professor Carberry might or might not approve of." The library spends about $1,000 of the Carberry Fund every year.