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.

No comments:

Post a Comment