About this website

IsisCB is a website devoted to the projects, publications, and organizations that have grown out of the Isis Current Bibliography of the History of Science, a century-old annual publication, and IsisCB Explore, an open access discovery service.

We are historians by training, but we do data-based scholarship, engage in computational history, and work on digital humanities projects. Most of our work centers on the discipline of history of science, technology, and medicine.

Our core mission is to understand and work with bibliographical data as well as build tools and platforms to curate and publish that data. More broadly, we encourage experimentation that links humanities scholarship to digital and computational methods.

Overview

The Isis Current Bibliography and the IsisCB Explore service are the two main projects of the office of the History of Science Society Bibliographer.

The bibliographical arm of the History of Science Society goes back to the founding of the journal Isis in 1913 by the Belgian Scholar George Sarton, and it has been an integral component of the journal since that time. From Sarton’s time to the present, the Isis Bibliography has published annual editions.

The goal has been to collect and categorize the most recent publications on the history of science and its cultural influence written by academically trained scholars. The bibliographical mandate is broad, however, so we also include citations about the history of medicine, technology, and philosophy, as well as about the study of science from related disciplines, such as sociology, philosophy, and anthropology. As it did during the period of Sarton’s leadership, today’s bibliography covers all time periods and disciplines and strives to be truly international in scope.

Over the years the bibliography has taken several different forms. Until about 1990, it was exclusively a print bibliography, published annually with periodic cumulations. Since that time, the project has expanded digitally, and the data is now accessible in both a subscription database (EBSCO’s History of Science, Technology, and Medicine service) and in an open access discovery service (the History of Science’s Explore service).

About the Name and Logo

The logo points to both the future and the past of the Isis CB. At its roots is the book, symbolizing the foundation of the project, the Isis Bibliography of History of Science.

The semicircle, a crescent arc, sweeping up from the pages of the book connotes the universal scope of the project. The bibliography covers works in all languages, research on the historical development of all disciplines in the sciences, and topics covering every geographic region on the entire globe and spanning the course of human history.

As for the name, the historian George Sarton gave us the name Isis, to reflect the origin of scientific knowledge in the distant past, represented in ancient times by the Egyptian goddess of wisdom.

The bibliography soon came to be identified primarily by its initials: CB. Sarton called it a critical bibliography, but in later years, the initials referred to current bibliography and cumulative bibliography.

The letters are the same, but by merging the name into a single word, I encourage people to bring new ideas to the table. The IsisCB will foster a new set of tools that go beyond the printed book. It will turn toward the networked, digital world, and so CB it will echo new associations:

  • Community Built. The IsisCB is a resource that embodies the intellectual work of the whole scholarly community.
  • Collaborative Bibliography. One of our main goals is to make the resource highly interactive for users. People will be able to add, comment, edit, and share the citations to scholarship herein.
  • Computational Bibliography. With a powerful server-driven search platform at our command, we will be able to offer new kinds of data analysis than was possible in the past.

Established in 1913, the bibliography provided citations to published work from around the world, and the project has been supported since the 1920s by the History of Science Society, one of the discipline’s premier international associations of scholars.

I want to thank Caitlin Corbett at the University of Oklahoma for producing this engaging design.