This Chronology of Chemical Information Science was created to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the founding in 1948 of the Chemical Information Division of the American Chemical Society. It will also be distributed at The History and Heritage of Science Information Systems, the first international conference on this subject (23-25 October 1998), which will be co-sponsored by the Chemical Heritage Foundation and the American Society for Information Science.
And we hope that our chronology will continue to inspire more investigations by historians–professional and amateur alike–in the little explored territory of science information. Potential topics for research abound at the science-technology interface and in sciences as apparently disparate as chemistry, mathematics, and linguistics; the interaction of professional organizations, government agencies, and private entrepreneurs; and comparisons–over time and nationality–of the very fundamentals of information systems–what information is considered important, who decides, and who has access to the system.
Through the generosity of the Eugene Garfield Foundation, Robert V. Williams, professor at the College of Library and Information Science, University of South Carolina, has been associated with the Chemical Heritage Foundation as Garfield Fellow in the History of Scientific Information. Dr. Williams spent part of his time as our first Garfield Fellow drawing up this chronology. It is a component of a far more ambitious project recording the history of scientific information that he had launched on his own with the support of the American Society for Information Science. This project includes a comprehensive bibliography and oral histories of selected pioneers in information science.
Mary Ellen Bowden, senior research historian at the Chemical Heritage Foundation, enthusiastically lent her considerable skills as an historian of science to aspects of Dr. Williams work, especially in co-authoring this chronology. Ted Benfey, editor-at-large for Chemical Heritage Foundation (who was writing about the phenomenal growth of the chemical literature as early as 1961) read drafts in his usual diligent way. It is also through the generosity of the Eugene Garfield Foundation that the publication costs of this chronology have been underwritten.
Our advisory panel played an invaluable role in constructing this chronology, especially since so little of a retrospective nature has been written about recent developments in information science. Of our advisers, W. V. (“Val”) Metanomski (History Committee of the ACS’s Chemical Information Division and Chemical Abstracts Service) was consulted earliest and most frequently. It was at his suggestion that we called upon colleagues overseas to give a more international aspect to the record.
Errors and omissions should not, however, be attributed to these kind people but, rather, brought to our attention. In that way, future work can build on this pioneering attempt at covering a very broad landscape.