Successful Symposia and Meeting of Commission on Bibliography and Documentation

The board of the Commission on Bibliography and Documentation. From left: Gavan McCarthy (Vice President for Archives), Silvia Waisse (Secretary), Birute Railiene (President), Stephen Weldon (Vice President for Bibliography), Amy Rodgers (Treasurer). (Photograph by Helen Morgan)

The board of the Commission on Bibliography and Documentation. From left: Gavan McCarthy (Vice President for Archives), Silvia Waisse (Secretary), Birute Railiene (President), Stephen Weldon (Vice President for Bibliography), Amy Rodgers (Treasurer). (Photograph by Helen Morgan)

On July 26 the IUHPST/DHST Commission on Bibliography and Documentation held its quadrennial congressional meeting in Manchester, UK. The meeting took place at the ICHSTM 2013 Conference, the 24th International Congress of History of Science. The Commission sponsored two symposia at this meeting and endorsed a third.

The session that it endorsed on Preserving Scientific Heritage was organized by Joe Anderson (American Institute of Physics) and Anne Barrett (Imperial College, London), and the papers that were presented in this two-session symposium demonstrated the critical necessity of supporting archival resources in our discipline. The symposium concluded with a panel discussion about the future of archival initiatives in an age of uncertain funding.

The Commission-sponsored session on New Perspectives on Classification was organized by Ana Maria Alfonso-Goldfarb (Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo, Brazil) and Georges Métailié (Centre Alexandre Koyré, France). This session explored the complexity of classification systems that have been developed in different times and different cultures. The symposium delved into both historical questions about classification and current problems of information organization for our discipline. The CESIMA Institute in São Paulo is actively working on these problems with the Commission.

Finally, the Commission-organized session History of Science and the Ecology of Knowledge explored the way that knowledge in the discipline is used and distributed in many different “ecological niches.” The organizers, Birute Railiene (Wroblewski Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences) and Stephen Weldon (University of Oklahoma), brought together a diverse group of speakers with quite different perspectives on historical information and informatics, ranging from pedagogy and translation to bibliography and open access.

The week of activities concluded with an award ceremony in which prizes were given to several scholars. The main award was the Neu-Whitrow Prize. The prize was established this year by the Commission to honor the best bibliography, catalog, or finding aid produced in the last several years. The inaugural award went to Jennifer Rampling (University of Cambridge) for her erudite catalog of the George Ripley Corpus of alchemical writings. Second place went to Francesco Gerali (National Autonomous University of Mexico) for his inventory of the archive of Giovanni Capellini. Finally, Rod Home (Professor Emeritus, University of Melbourne) was honored for his distinguished work over his long career as historian to foster and improve bibliography for the discipline.

The Commission is twenty years old this year and is thriving. It oversees the development of the WHSO project, and endorses other efforts worldwide that support its mission. See the Commission web page to learn more about its goals and history.