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.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Finding an Author Whose Last Name Begins with X

According to the automatic tabulator on the running head of the website, there were 6754 authors in the database as of August 8, 2015, including many for every letter of the alphabet except X. No authors in the bibliography had last names beginning with that letter. Would it be possible to fill this gap?

I thought about it occasionally, but could not think of a good way to approach the problem. Today, in an exchange of emails I mentioned this issue to my friend and colleague Fritz-Dieter Söhn. Fritz had the excellent idea of checking Hirsch's Biographisches Lexikon der hervorragenden Ärzte aller Zeiten und Völker (See entry No. 6716)In that comprehensive listing of physicians' names four candidates turned up: three ancient Greek physicians: Xenokrates, Xenkritos, and Xenophon, but virtually nothing survived of whatever these physicians might have written. Thus they could not be included. The fourth name that turned up was that of Francisco Ximénez, a friar and nurse at the Convent of San Domingo de Mexico. Ximénez edited and expanded Francisco Hernández's Quatro libros. De la naturaleza y virudes de las plantas, y animales que estan receuidos en el vso de medicina en la Nueua España for publication in Mexico City in 1615. (See entry No. 1820.1). Because Ximénez's name appeared on the title page of the Hernandez book as editor and co-author of portions of the work, it was appropriate to add Ximenez to the author list of the bibliography, Thank you, Fritz, for finding the first X-name for the author database!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Adding Sexuality / Sexology

As one might expect in a bibliography that originated in 1912, there was little or nothing about sexuality or sexology in the bibliography, even in the 5th edition of 1991. There were only a very few works: Freud (1905) Havelock Ellis (1900-1928),  Kraft-Ebing (1886), Forel (1905). These were included under Psychology. If you count prostitution under sexology there were also Parent-Duchâtelet (1836) and Henriques (1961-68) and the 20th century English translation, rather than the original French edition, of Lacroix (1851-53). These were indexed under Public Health. Sex appeared in the subject index chiefly with respect to genetics and the science of reproduction. Taking a more up to date, less inhibited approach, I decided to add the subjects Sexuality / Sexology to the subject index, and to work toward improving coverage in this area. As of today there are 13 entries under the main subject and 6 under "History of".

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Medical Papyri and Ethnobotany

The two topics--medical papyri and ethnobotany--have very little in common, except that they are areas in which I decided to revise and expand the bibliography. In reviewing the citations for medical papyri I noticed that the selections tended to be early translations rather than the first printing of the papyrus text. This I improved when necessary. As there are so few medical papyri the task of revising those entries was not arduous. I also added "Medical Papyri" to the subject index under Ancient Medicine.

On the other hand, the history of native plants used as medicine by indigenous peoples is a topic that has long interested me, especially as these plants are sometimes the origin of standard drugs. This is a large subject, and it is also a topic which I tried to improve when I worked on it 25 years ago; it is still unsatisfactory in this area. As part of a project to build up references on Native Americans and Medicine (another favorite subject of mine) I have also added Ethnobotany as a topic in the subject index under Botany, and am in the process of improving the coverage in that general area. The coverage in ethnobotany should, of course, be wide-ranging geographically and not limited to "America."

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Filling a Major Gap in the 1991 Fifth Edition: HIV/AIDS

When I prepared the last edition of this bibliography for publication in book form during the late 1980s HIV/AIDS was very much in the news but I didn't have a good way of gaining historical perspective on it. Twenty-five years later it was easier to start filling this gap, beginning with the first description of the disease by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), and the isolation of the virus by Luc Montagnier, and the proof that the same virus caused HIV by Robert Gallo. From the secondary source standpoint I added Mirko Grmek's history of AIDS published in English in 1990, and Randy Shilts's And the Band Played On. I vaguely recall being aware of the publication of Grmek's history toward the end of my editorial process for the book, and by that time it seemed more important to get the 5th edition published rather than to continue with additions. Entries on this topic appear under Infectious Disease /  HIV/AIDS in the subject index.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Correcting and Improving all the 15th Century Citations

One of the more interesting new features available in the electronic version of the bibliography is the ability to study items by the years in which they were published. From this we learn that currently there are 76 entries in the bibliography published in print between 1456 and 1500. As I reviewed some of those entries I realized that numerous errors had crept in over the century during which the bibliography evolved, and I decided to review and correct all of the 15th century entries. This process I completed today.

The convenient standard reference work that I used is the Incunabula Short Title Catalogue (ISTC) published by the British Library. This provides searchable descriptions of incunabula together with references to more detailed bibliographical studies of each title. My process was to compare the G-M entry with cataloguing provided by the ISTC, and typically to follow the title and author record of the ISTC. However in certain instances, when a digital facsimile was available, I would transliterate the title directly from the facsimile. In other instances, if I learned that there was an earlier edition than the one previously cited in G-M, I cited the earlier edition. Whenever I could locate the edition in the ISTC, and I believe that this was in all except one instance, I added the ISTC entry number to the annotation. Users will notice that many of the 15th century citations in the bibliography are now significantly revised and improved, in both their bibliographical citations and explanatory notes, and the notes often include links to digital facsimiles.

Friday, June 19, 2015 is also

Over twenty years ago I acquired along with, and a few other domain names. When the opportunity to bring "Garrison-Morton" to the Internet occurred it seemed logical use the domain for that purpose.  However, since the "Garrison-Morton" designation is so deeply entrenched in bibliographical citations, after the new site went online I also acquired "" Traditionalists may now reach by going to

Adding Two Very Rare Works in Ophthalmology as a Result of Antiquarian Bookselling Experience

In my over five decades in the antiquarian book trade I have handled many extraordinary and remarkable items, some of which are of bibliographical interest. In June my old friend and colleague Rick Watson of London sent me descriptions of the two extremely rare early sixteenth century works in ophthalmology which we had owned in partnership decades ago. These he had recently repurchased.  I had forgotten all about them, but when I read their description I realized that these belong in the medical bibliography; they are now entries 6932 and 6933.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Revising the Bibliography with Extensive Help from a Colleague and Friend

In the two months since the bibliography went live on the website I believe that I have revised and corrected at least 1000 of the approximately 8800 entries, and I have also added around 100 new entries. The editorial process has been at least as extensive as my process in preparing the 5th edition 25 years ago, but in many respects it has been more thorough. For example, I have checked and double-checked all the author names, adding birth and / or death dates in hundreds of cases. I have also checked the titles, and have read all annotations, and in some cases revised annotations in the process of creating a new subject index. Of course, the process has been greatly speeded up and facilitated by the ability to search for biographical and bibliographical details on the Internet. Another great help is the availability of digital facsimiles of so many of the books on the Internet. In certain cases I have linked to digital facsimiles within the annotations of entries, and I plan to link to many more digital facsimiles in the future. You can see all my major corrections and additions by clicking on the "Additions & Extensive Revisions" subject in the subject index. 

Besides my own work improving and correcting the bibliography, I was greatly helped by my colleague Webb Dordick who sent me a list of around 150-200 corrections and recommended substitutions in June. I incorporated nearly all of Webb's suggestions and corrections in the database, and I hope that he will continue to read the new electronic version critically and forward further revisions and corrections, and recommendations for new additions.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Women in Medicine & Biology: 158 Entries Registered

About two weeks after my initial post on this issue I notice that there are presently 158 database entries by women. This, I think, should be close to the final number in the database as it is currently constituted. Ironically, the some of the last entries I indexed to this subject were the two by Florence Nightingale. As Nightingale is definitely one of the most famous of women authors in medicine and biology, this shows that I was not clearly focussed on indexing to women when I made my first foray through the nearly 9000 entries to create the new subject index. The 158 entries in which women are authors or co-authors of primary rather than secondary works seems like a decent representation of key works; however, I am sure that more works by women need to be added.

Improving the Reference to Anichkov & Chalatov on Atheroschlerosis

There are many, many ways that the bibliography can be improved.  For example, today Fritz-Dieter Söhn pointed out the misspelling of Anichkov's name, provided the dates for his co-author Chalatov, and improved the annotation for the famous paper of 1913 in which the authors first made the connection between cholesterol and atheroschlerosis. Here is the improved version:

  • 2915

Ueber experimentelle Cholesterinsteatose und ihre Bedeutung für die Entstehung einiger pathologischer Prozesse.

 Zbl. allg. Path. path. Anat., 24, 1-9 1913.
Anichkov and Chalatov discovered in St. Petersburg, Russia, that atherosclerosis of large arteries is critically dependent on cholesterol. (Translated in Arteriosclerosis, 1983, 3,178-182). The inflammatory nature of atherosclerosis was first observed and suggested by Rudolf Virchow in 1856.

When the authors published this paper it was ignored by the medical establishment. Only since drugs such as Lipitor became available to reduce plaque formation in arteries was Anichkov's and Chalatov's discovery widely accepted. My thanks to Fritz-Dieter for improving this significant entry.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Malfeasance from a "Garrison-Morton" Author!

  • In checking the dates for Cecil Bryan Jacobson, junior author of the paper describing the first use of amniocentesis to diagnose genetic disorders, I was surprised to find that Dr. Jacobson was recently involved in a notorious scandal, and had his license to practice medicine revoked. I included the relevant paragraph from the Wikipedia article on Jacobson in the note to entry 6235.2. For more information see the full Wikipedia article and the many news articles on this scandal.

  • 6235.2. 
  • BARTER, Robert Henry. 1913 – 1999
  • JACOBSON, Cecil Bryan. 1936 –

Intrauterine diagnosis and management of genetic defects.

 Amer. J. Obstet. Gynec., 99, 796-807. 1967.
Amniocentesis used to diagnose genetic disorders in utero. First detailed report. See also Fuchs, F., Genetic information from amniotic fluid contents. Lancet, 1960, 2, 180.

"During the course of the criminal investigation, another type of fraud came to light. For a variety of reasons, some patients had arranged to be artificially inseminated with sperm provided by screened, anonymous donors arranged by [Cecil Bryan] Jacobson. In order to preserve the anonymity of the donors, Jacobson explained, he identified them in records using code numbers; only Jacobson was to know their true identities. Investigators found no evidence that any donor program actually existed. Some of Jacobson's patients who had conceived through donor insemination agreed to genetic testing. At least seven instances were identified in which Jacobson was the biological father of the patients' children, including one patient who was supposed to have been inseminated with sperm provided by her husband. DNA tests linked Jacobson to at least 15 such children, and it has been suspected that he fathered as many as 75 children by impregnating patients with his own sperm" (Wikipedia article on Cecil Jacobson, accessed 05-22-2015).

The Value of "Circa" in Birth or Death Dates

In attempting to include birth and death dates for as many authors in the bibliography as possible I realized that for most ancient authors the birth or death dates may be uncertain. This was an issue that I had not thought about in detail when planning the programming of the site. However, as I painstakingly reviewed every author of the many thousands in the database during the month of May 2015 I realized that without an indication of uncertainty I could not accurately enter birth or death dates for authors where this information is primarily an educated guess. 

To remedy this situation I asked Jessica Gore to put in switches next to the birth and death dates on my control panel so that I could indicate when one or both of these dates is uncertain. You will see that reflected in the use of the word "circa" for a birth or death date when that is the situation.  It is particularly true for ancient authors when both birth and death dates are estimates. For medieval authors sometimes the death date is known but the birth date is uncertain, and the situation can also apply to sixteenth or seventeenth century authors. For later authors when there is no information available, rather than putting in guesses, I have typically just left out this information.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Including the First Draft of the Human Genome (2001)

Initially I thought it would be enough to put the text of the 1991 edition online with corrections, and an update, when time permits, of significant secondary sources that have appeared since then; however, I found myself updating the molecular biology section, where so many monumental discoveries have occurred during the past 25 years. In the process of updating that section I decided to include the first drafts of the human genome in 2001.

I like the symmetry of starting the chronology at roughly 2000 BCE and ending the documentation at around 2000: specifically 2001.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Updating Birth and Death Dates: A Much Easier Process 25 Years Later

When I worked on the 5th book-form edition of the bibliography 25 years ago finding birth and death dates was a time-consuming look-up process in libraries--so much so that I rarely attempted to fill in the information. This was probably also the case for my predecessor in the project, Leslie Morton. Years ago one of the only convenient ways to know a death date was from reading an obituary when it appeared in the newspaper, etc. Today, with so much indexed on the Internet, including newspaper obituaries and Wikipedia articles, and digital versions of biographical tools like Munk's Roll, finding biographical details tends to be so much easier. In the month since the bibliography went online I have been able to fill in around 1000 birth or death dates, and in some cases I have also corrected misspellings in author names. However, as one would expect, there are still several hundred of these that have eluded me, so far.

Another aspect to this part of the project is that so many of the authors have passed in the 25 years that elapsed since the 5th printed edition and the new online edition. As I filled in hundreds of death dates I felt peculiarly like an undertaker, at least from the record-keeping standpoint.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Correcting an Old Error in Entry 918 on Respiratory Muscle Function

Today I was very pleased to receive from my colleague and friend Fritz Dieter Söhn of Marburg, Germany, a correction for the Georg Erhard Hamburger entry (No. 918). Book form editions of this bibliography incorrectly cited the third edition of 1748 instead of the first edition of 1727, in which the observation was first published. As a result of Fritz's very helpful information and references, the entry and its annotation are now very much improved.

One of the many great advantages of having the bibliography functioning as a dynamic database online rather than a printed book is the ability to make corrections and additions. Revisions, additions, corrections are always welcome.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Women in Medicine & Biology: Hidden in Plain Sight

At the ALHHS meeting Rachel Ingold of Duke University reminded me of her special interest in the history of women in medicine.  It then occurred to me that as I had prepared the new subject index, working my way through the nearly 9000 entries in the bibliography, I had been only half cognizant of this subject, and had probably missed numerous entries written by women. "Women in Medicine & Biology" in the subject index then showed only about 28 entries, I believe. After the meeting, as I began to standardize author names, I tried to pay special care to make sure that all the women authors were indexed under that subject topic, and on May 7 I emailed Rachel to tell her that I had 70 entries indexed to the subject--frankly more than I had expected to find.  However, I spoke prematurely since, as of this morning, there are now 109, and I suspect that some papers and books by women authors are still missing from that index.

It would be naive to ignore the obvious male bias since 1912 in the selection and composition of the bibliography; however, considering that I am surprised at how many entries by women the bibliography actually contains.  Obviously, this is an area in which major expansion is necessary.

Additions to Alternative Medicine: Homeopathy

When I prepared the fifth edition roughly 25 years ago I was struck by the extreme lack of coverage of "alternative medicine. " At that time I had studied the western references on acupuncture, and added a new section covering significant Western works on that subject.  These still appear to be well chosen selections, though I will continue to add in this subject.

In revisiting the manuscript for the new online version I noticed that there only 3 entries on homeopathy, one of the most popular "alternative medicine" practices, even though the published literature on homeopathy is enormous, especially during the 19th century. To begin to fill in this very significant historical gap I enlisted the help of my friend Bill Kirtsos, who provided 22 new entries on the topic, which I adapted to the style of the bibliography. The homeopathy section is now much improved. Thanks very much Bill.

Launching the New Website; Standardizing Author Names

We launched, the online interactive version of my 1991 printed edition of "Garrison-Morton", at the meeting of Archivists and Librarians in the History of the Health Sciences ( held in New Haven, Connecticut on April 29-30, 2015. Having a deadline for a functioning version of the site was a helpful, and perhaps a necessary incentive for making a presentable version available by a specific date.

Since then, as is my habit, I continue to read, correct, revised, and expand the entries. In the process I am continually reminded of differences between the mechanics of editing the site online compared to editing the manuscript for the printed book roughly 25 years ago. These differences are among the topics I intend to explore in this blog.

One of the issues that I did not have time to work on before we launched the site was standardizing author names. Users of the book or the new database may know that some authors have multiple entries in the database, reflecting the significance of different books or papers in different subject areas. When I edited the manuscript for the fifth edition I was working with a series of about ten Microsoft Word files, as the program could not then handle a manuscript that long in one file. I recall carrying these files around on the clunky slow laptop I used at the time, and carefully backing up the files on a series of floppy diskettes after making changes or additions to the manuscript. Under those circumstances it was possible to enter in different versions of the same author name, without being readily able to check to see if the entered version conformed to the way the name had been previously recorded for other entries. Because of the way the new database is organized all the author names appear alphabetically, making duplicated entries, or misspelled names relatively easy to spot. Then it is a matter of deleting the duplicated name entries, and assigning the correct author name to all relevant entries in the database.