About IsisCB Cumulative, 1913-1975.

The volumes available for browsing here are categorized bibliographical entries that appeared in annual or semi-annual bibliographies that were published as part of the journal Isis between volume 1 (1913) and volume 66 (1975). Since the data in IsisCB Explore only goes back to 1974, researchers can use this site to do a more thorough literature survey of articles in history of science going back 100 years.

George Sarton began publishing bibliographies in his new journal Isis from the first issue. From that time on, Sarton and his successors published at least one bibliography almost every year. The Isis Critical Bibliography of the History of Science was a classified list of recently published secondary literature that the editors and others collected. These bibliographies marked the beginning of the history of science as a scholarly specialization, bringing together scholarship from all over the world, in many different languages.

As the decades passed, it became clear that an index of some kind was needed to make this reference resource more manageable, so in the mid-1960s, the History of Science Society hired Magda Whitrow (a librarian at Imperial College, London) to create a single multi-volume cumulative bibliography running to 1965. Ten years later, John Neu (a librarian at the University of Wisconsin—Madison) began to create the next ten-year cumulation covering the intervening years.

In 2013, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation provided a grant to create an open-access database from the Isis Bibliography. Part of that money was given to digitize the seven volumes of cumulative bibliographies that were compiled without the aid of computer databases. Eventually, this data will be integrated into the Isis CB Explore system, but that work requires a lot more data manipulation. In the meantime, anyone who would like to get access to this data now can get it via this simple HTML interface.

All the pages of the Isis Cumulative Bibliographies (nearly 5000 pages in all) were photographed and stored as archival quality TIFF images by the University of Oklahoma Libraries’ Digilab (a discussion of this project is here). We tried to use various OCR scripts to digitize the text, but the accuracy proved to be insufficient for our needs, so we turned to hand transcription. We hired digital humanities consultant Conal Tuohy to create a workflow that would turn the scanned images into machine-readable text with TEI markup. We contracted with Apex Covantage to produce the transcription using a double-key entry process that has an accuracy of 99.95%. Tuohy then worked with the resulting files to provide the HTML pages that we have presented here. He also produced bibliographical markup for identifiable fields in the citations, which we will use to ingest the data to the IsisCB Explore dataset, which we have scheduled for 2017.