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Journal Article

Bibliography Is Social: Organizing Knowledge in the Isis Bibliography from Sarton to the Early Twenty-First Century

Stephen P. Weldon
Vol. 104, No. 3 (September 2013), pp. 540-550
DOI: 10.1086/673273
Stable URL:
Page Count: 11
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ABSTRACTThis essay explores various ways in which bibliographies have exhibited “sociality.” Bibliographies are both products of the social contexts that have created them and engines of social interaction in scholarly communities. By tracing the history of the Isis Bibliography, the longest-running and most comprehensive bibliography in its field, this essay explains how different Isis classification systems have been tied to major twentieth-century cataloging efforts. By looking at classification, the essay also attends to the ways in which aspects of the Isis Bibliography in different decades have reflected social mores of their period. Finally, it demonstrates how critical the Isis Bibliography was in the formation of the discipline of history of science and goes on to discuss how that disciplinary connection is evolving in the twenty-first century. By thinking of the bibliography as a network of scholars, not just scholarly works, the essay asks us to reflect on the nature and purpose of bibliography in the digital age.