Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Printed or Digital Form: How Much of a Distinction is that Today?

This online bibliography evolved from a treatment of printed documents exclusively, but how much of distinction is there always between printed and digital documents today? Considering that many historical monographs are now offered for sale by their publishers both in print and digital form, it would appear that the distinction between print and digital in scholarship is blurring. That being the case I will, for the time being at least, continue to cite the printed form of publications unless they exist only in digital form.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Many Historical Monographs in the History of Medicine and Biology Reflect Interdisciplinary Research

One conclusion that I am drawing as I attempt to document in this bibliography some of the more significant monographs published on the history of medicine and biology during the past few decades is that much of the research is interdisciplinary. For that reason historians who research topics in these fields often come from backgrounds such as social history or political history rather than specifically medicine or biology, or the history of medicine, or the history of biology. The topics these historians write about typically combine social, political and other elements along with the history of medicine and biology. Projects of this type may require research in general research libraries as well as strictly history of medicine and history of biology libraries. With this in mind, I have included links to some of the major digital libraries in general, rather than limiting coverage of digital libraries to more specialized history of medicine and history of biology libraries.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Standardizing Place Names Means That They Often Do Not Correspond Exactly to the Imprint of Publications

Inexplicably, in February 2018 I first reviewed the Place of Publication database and standardized place names. Up to this time the place names were a combination of foreign language or Latin names and their English language equivalent, such as Milan and Milano. To make searching by place name consistent I standardized the names to their English language version, when appropriate, and because some of the city names may be repeated in various U.S. states or countries (Birmingham, AL or Birmingham, England), I added U.S. state abbreviations to all U.S. places, except the most obvious, such as New York, and country names to cities in any countries where I thought it would be helpful to users searching the database by this method. Because these versions of place names are included in the bibliographical entries as they appear in this online database they often do not correspond precisely to the place names on the imprints of publications.

Dealing with Digital Resources in an Expanding Online Version of a Bibliography of Printed Sources

One of the primary challenges facing the conversion of a printed book about other printed documents into an online database was how to deal with other digital libraries, databases, etc. When I began this online database in 2014-2015 I attempted, when possible, and within my time limitations, to link to digital editions, especially of new entries, when they existed. Only by the end of 2016, however, did I see fit to include other online research sources. Initially I called these "Electronic Resources," and placed them in the subject index under Bibliography. As is my process, learning more about references as I collect them, or by rethinking their organization as a subject category grows, I expand the subject index by dividing subjects into sub-categories. "Electronic Resources", as it evolved, contained entries for Digital Libraries, Online Bibliographic Databases, and works about their history and development. Eventually, in February 2018 I created a set of Digital categories in the subject index and reorganized those growing categories of material, hopefully making access to them more meaningful. Here is the link to Digital Libraries.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

HistoryofMedicineandBiology.com Passes the 10,000 Entry Milestone

Yesterday, December 27, 2016, I noticed that the database passed the 10,000 entry milestone. It seemed fitting to make an entry for this database, itself, as entry number 10,000, indexed under the new category of "Electronic Resources." Compared to the limited amount of work that I could do in preparing the 5th printed edition (1991) and my lack of control over that finished book, working on this electronic version is a dream. The website was programmed according to my specifications, and it gives me the chance to make virtually unlimited changes, corrections and modifications according to the irregular way that I fit in working on this project in betwixt and between other things. Besides this, the ability to link to digital facsimiles online not only increases the usefulness of the database but also gives me the opportunity to check entries for accuracy and content. This is resulting in many, many corrections and improvements to older entries in the database. Also, search engines such as Google allow me to identify and distinguish between various works by authors, among many other things. Needless to say, the excitement I find in building and improving this database motivates me to pursue this project.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Renaming the Masthead HistoryofMedicineandBiology.com

It has been about a year and a half since the former printed book version of the annotated bibliography appeared in its interactive form online. According to the automatic tabulation, as of this date (October 6, 2016) 1045 entries have either been significantly revised from the last printed edition or are entirely new. Besides the many significant revisions and additions I have corrected innumerable small mistakes, which still turn up in a work of this size. The bibliography is presently indexed to 628 subjects.

From its beginning by Fielding H. Garrison early in the twentieth century this bibliography included subjects like evolution and biology as well as medicine, and as I have added new material to most of the subject areas I have found myself expanding subjects such as evolution, zoology, and natural history. To draw attention to the biological aspects along with the medical aspects we have renamed the masthead HistoryofMedicineandBiology.com.

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Publisher Whose Middle Initial Was Meaningless

In adding new entry 7186 today,  the first handbook on the female sex hormone,  published in Springfield, Illinois by Charles C Thomas in 1929,  I was reminded of a detail that I once had explained to me years ago: that the C between Charles and Thomas was added by Thomas just for "looks", and that the letter was not an abbreviation for a longer name. Therefore, Thomas never added a period after his middle "C". This quirky nit-picky detail is the kind of thing that creates all sorts of nuisance problems for a bibliographer.

Knowing that Thomas was Harvey Cushing's publisher, and that Thomas also published many notable books on medical history,  I realized that there would be many entries published by him in the bibliography. I also suspected that the story of Thomas's meaningless "C" had eluded Leslie T. Morton in the first four editions of the bibliography, and I also seemed to remember that I probably followed Morton's way of recording Thomas's name as publisher when I edited the fifth edition. Thus it seemed likely that there would be errors to correct regarding the meaningless "C". But when I searched under "Charles C. Thomas" I found only one entry to correct, and, of course, I took care of that. Later in the day I decided to address the problem once again, this time checking under Thomas's distinctive publishing location, Springfield. This brought up 54 entries, all of which presented the incorrect version of Thomas's meaningless "C".  Morton, it turned out,  always recorded Thomas's name as publisher as "C. C. Thomas." This, of course, makes perfect sense if the "C" is an abbreviation, but it makes little sense if you are not supposed to add a period after the second "C". Solution: spell out "Charles C Thomas" whenever his name is mentioned in the bibliography. 54 entries later this error was corrected, and while I was at it I made other minor revisions to some of the 54 entries as I reread them.