ASIS&T SIG HFIS : History & Foundations of Information Science

Association for Information Science & Technology :


ASIST Membership

SIG HFIS is a Special Interest Group of the Association for Information Science & Technology (ASIS&T). To join SIG HFIS you should select it as one of your SIGs when joining ASIS&T or renewing your membership. Note that ASIS&T no longer charges an additional fee to join more than one SIG.

Email List

ASIS&T administers an email list, SIGHFIS-L (, for the benefit of people with an interest in the SIG and its activities. SIG members are not automatically enrolled in the list. To join the list or view its archives go to


The current SIG Bylaws are here. They are based on the ASIS&T model SIG bylaws.

ASIST History Fund

Under the leadership of Robert V. Williams and Boyd Rayward the History of Information Science and Technology Fund was approved by the ASIS&T directors in 2000.  It has been supported with royalties from several books and by further donations. The purpose of the fund is to support and encourage research and publication in the history of Information Science and Technology. In 2007 the amount of the fund passed $10,000 making its income available for support of the SIG’s activities. In 2009 a further matching grant from Eugene Garfield brought the total to around $18,000. Contributions to the fund would qualify for tax-deductible contributions as a result of the ASIS 501-c-3 status. In 2015 the Research Grant award amount was raised from $1,000 to $2,000. Nominations, due in June, can be submitted via

The fund is being used to support two new initiatives:

Research Paper Award
An award of $500 for the best unpublished paper on information history received by the committee.

  • 2018: Brian Dobreski and Barbara Kwaśnik, for “Changing Depictions of Persons in Library Practice: Spirits, Pseudonyms, and Human Books”; and Alex Poole, Drexel University, for ”Harold T. Pinkett and the Lonely Crusade of African American Archivists in the Twentieth Century”
  • 2017: Alex Poole, Drexel University, for “Could my dark hands break through the dark shadow?” The North Carolina Negro Library Association’s War on Information Poverty in the Long Civil Rights Movement, 1935-1955″
  • 2016: Gábor Szommer, Hungarian independent researcher, for “Parallel Expansions: The Role of Information during the Formative Years of the English East India Company”
  • 2015: No Award
  • 2014: No Award
  • 2013: Xiaohua Zhu, University of Tennessee, for “Who Had Access to Juris?: A Failed Case of Open Access”
  • 2012: No Award
  • 2011: No Award
  • 2010: Sarah Buchanan, UCLA, for “‘Name’s the Same?’: The Los Angeles Chapter of ASIST upon its Semicentennial”
  • 2009 (inaugural award): Rachel Plotnick, doctoral student in Media, Technology and Society at Northwestern University, for “Computers, Systems Theory and the Making of a Wired Hospital: A History of Technicon Medical Information System, 1964-1987.”

Research Grant
An award of a maximum of $2,000 will be awarded for the best research proposal submitted to the committee.

  • 2018: Lynne Bowker, University of Ottawa, for her work titled, “Revealing One of Information Science and Technology’s ‘Hidden Figures’: How Helmut Felber brought information science principles to bear on the development of early term banks”
  • 2017: Matthew Mayernik, National Center for Atmospheric Research, for his study, “Organizing Scientists, Organizing Data: Infrastructures and Institutions for Long-Term Scientific Data Initiatives”
  • 2016: Fidelia Ibekwe-SanJuan & Thomas Dousa, Aix-Marseille University and University of Chicago Library, for their proposal “Information Science: Origins, Theories & Paradigms: A Comparative Approach”
  • 2015 (award raised to $2,000 from $1,000): Ronald Day, Indiana University Bloomington, for his book project, “Documentarity, the Literary and the Right to Truth”
  • 2014: No Award
  • 2013: Kalpana Shankar & Kristin Eschenfelder, University College Dublin and University of Wisconsin-Madison, for their proposal “Social Science Data Archives: A Historical View of Sustainability, Access and Use”
  • 2012: No Award
  • 2011: Trudi Bellardo Hahn & Diane Barlow, University of Maryland, for their proposal “Research on the NSF, information science, and Helen Brownson”
  • 2010: Andrew Russell, Asst. Prof., Stevens Institute of Technology, for his proposal, “An open world: ideological origins of network standards”
  • 2009 (inaugural award): Charles Meadow, Professor Emeritus, Faculty of Information, University of Toronto, to study the digital divide historically.

Information & Culture: A Journal of History

ASIS&T SIG HFIS has accepted an invitation to have a representative on the editorial board of Libraries & the Cultural Record; note that the journal’s name changed to Information & Culture: A Journal of History in January 2012 (see website). The representative will normally be the current Chair of SIG HFIS, and, accordingly, the first representative is Kathryn La Barre, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2011). See also

Session Sponsorship

As an ASIS&T SIG, SIG HFIS organizes and sponsors sessions for the annual meeting of the society. If you are interested in taking part in such a session or organizing one please contact the SIG chair. The meetings are held in the fall, but deadlines are around January so it is necessary to plan well ahead. Sessions held in previous meetings can be seen here.

Informational Archive of HFIS Activities:

Newsletter 2015

Call for I-Stories
SIG History & Foundations of Information Science

Information and communication phenomena are at the heart of our daily lives. They are how we know things and yet our understanding of these concepts and underlying phenomena are at best slippery. Just when we think we’ve pinned or penned them down nicely with a few well chosen phrases, we discover that those phrases are inadequate, that others disagree with our definitions or that many other conceptions abound. Not to bore you with the many varied conceptions of information, the aim of this call for I-Stories is to bring forth, through everyday experience, the many different things information can mean to different people or to the same person in different circumstances in a lively and entertaining manner.

The SIG History & Foundations of Information Science solicits stories on how information and its understanding affect our daily lives, be it in work situations, in our private lives, in our research. The stories of information and around information should showcase how effective or ineffective the concept may be, how it can mean different things to different people, how that may have got you into misunderstandings and how that has got you thinking about information in general. The stories may concern an event, something that happened to you or to someone you know, a talk you heard or involve well known scholars and how they have grappled with this open-ended issue.

We encourage scholars, practitioners, students to send us a text of not more than 1000 words which can be illustrated with drawings. A successful initiative in applying arts-informed and visual approaches to exploring information phenomena was initiated by Hartel in the shape of the iSquare international study. A story of Information also appeared in Hartel (2014)*.

A jury formed of HFIS advisory board will choose 5 stories that shed startling, informative and unexpected insights into our understanding of the phenomenon we call information and of the field we call information science/studies.

Stories by students will receive particular attention and if selected, their authors will receive a 1 year free membership to ASIST and to HFIS. Membership benefits can be consulted at

Stories written by practitioners or faculty members if selected will receive a gift card of $30 as well as 1 year free membership to SIG HFIS.

Please send your stories to by 15th June.

The jury will render the result of its deliberation by 30th  June.

Fidelia Ibekwe-SanJuan
HFIS chair (2014-2015)

* Hartel, J. (2014, July). An arts-informed study of information using the draw-and-write technique. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 65(7), 1349-1367. doi:10.1002/asi.23121

original CFP available here.

Newsletter 2014

CALL FOR PAPERS: “Stories of Information Science / Information Scientists”
Do you have a story of information science and/or information scientists to share with the ASIS&T community?  If so, please consider submitting a short story (~300-800 words) to be included in the HFIS newsletter. A gift card of $30 will be awarded if your story is selected!
What are we looking for?  A tidbit of history of your SIG/Chapter/School/Department and/or a story of an information scientist and/or educator.
Authors interested in contributing should contact newsletter editor Lai Ma. Submissions should be sent to Lai Ma ( ) by May 1, 2014.

original CFP available here.

Eugene Garfield Grants Program, 2013

Exciting News: Eugene Garfield has established four fellowships at the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia for the study of the history of information science, law, documentation, and chemical engineering in the chemical enterprise. The Theodore and Mary Herdegen Fellowships in the History of Scientific Information and the Paul Otlet Fellowship in the History of Information Science are particularly relevant to SIGHFIS members. See the announcement on the CHF website for details.

CHF Press Release link and PDF.