On the Shoulders of Giants presented by 
Eugene Garfield

Chairman Emeritus, ISI®
Publisher, The Scientist® 
Tel. 215-243-2205 
Fax 215-387-1266

email: garfield@codex.cis.upenn.edu
Home Page: http://garfield.library.upenn.edu

The Conference on
The History and Heritage of Science Information Systems
Pittsburgh, PA
October 24, 1998

The title for this  talk was inspired by Robert K. Merton's On the Shoulders of Giants.1It is an unusual exercise in scholarly detective work. This book is often referred to as OTSOG. It tracks down the origins of Isaac Newton's famous  aphorism "If I have seen farther, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."

Robert K. Merton should not be confused with his Nobel winning son the Harvard economist Robert C.Merton. Robert K's association with the field of information science is quite strong. He has probably been cited by information scientists as often, if not more so, than many of those we recognize as pioneers of information science. This is due in part to his pioneering work in the sociology and history of science, but also because he is the inventor of numerous neologisms.His "Matthew Effect"2,3has been cited in hundreds of papers and is itself the subject of numerous research papers including those by Manfred Bonitz of Dresden4.  Another term is OBI -- Obliteration by Incorporation.5,6


The Mathew Effect often leads to unfair attribution of work by two or more authors. Bob's wife Harriet Zuckerman is an example. She is well known for her work on Nobel Prizes.7 I did not meet Bob Merton and Harriet Zuckerman until 1962.


He was the leader in the field of "Science of Science" which was a precursor of the social studies of science and the field of scientometrics. See my essay about the Bernal Award of the 4S Society established by ISI in 19818a

That same year I wrote an almost identical letter to him, Derek deSolla Price, and J. D. Bernal suggesting they might be interested in our first experimental citation printouts. I had already been in contact with Bernal before the International Conference on Scientific Information in Washington, DC, in 1958.8


The term scientometrics was coined by our beloved Russian colleague Vassily V. Nalimov died last year. I visited his gravesite in Moscow with his wife Jeanna last year.

ISI Press published four of his books.

Another disciple of Bernal was the British physicist and journalist Maurice Goldsmith who wrote a biography of Bernal,9and just before he died this year, a biography of Joseph Needham.10Maurice was very close to Federico Mayor, Director General of UNESCO which published his biography of Needham.


I first met Mayor in 1965 when he was Rector of the Universityof Granada.

My first "contact" with Bernal was even before World War II when my uncle presented me with a copy of his 1939 book the "Social Function of Science."11


Another pioneer of information science, not listed on the ASIS pioneers is Joshua Lederberg. I met him in 1959 shortly after he won the Nobel Prize in Medicine.


Here is his letter. Josh still sendsmany handwritten notes but is a pioneer in using email. His Eugram was an early predict or of email, the Internet, and electronic journals.12

Later, Josh became a member of the ISI Board of Directors along with Hilary Koprowski.
Hilary Koprowski,13  Eugene Garfield,and Josh Lederberg
Vartan Gregorian attended one of our New York Board Meetings.

But Josh, Derek, and Bob Merton were not my first contacts in this field.

In early 1951, I was looking for a new job as a chemist.So I attended the Spring Anniversary meeting of the American Chemical Society(ACS) in March, 1951 where I met James W. Perry who was Chairman of theDivision of Chemical Literature. He introduced me to S. V. Larkey, the director of the Welch Medical Library at Johns Hopkins University. Through Jim Perry I also me Madeline Berry Henderson, who is here tonight, as well as Allen Kent.



The Welch Project afforded me the unique opportunity of meeting most of the ASIS pioneers. The Committee of Honorary Consultants to the Welch Project included Mortimer Taube, Verner C. Clapp and Ralph Shaw.

Verner was a great gadgeteer. He funded the developmentof the Copywriter -- a device I developed for selectively copying references14


Ralph attended the "First Symposium on Machine Methodsin Scientific Documentation" which I organized at Welch in March 1953.The chef of Johns Hopkins Hospital prepared a marvelous buffet luncheon.   Later, Ralph wrote and said "Garfield, as a documentalist you make a great  caterer!"
I wrote a eulogy to Ralph 20 yearsago in Current Contents®.15When he was at the University of Hawaii, he visited my son Stefan who had been sent to the Army hospital there from Vietnam.


I never met the original Chairman of the Advisory Committee Lewis H. Weed. He was succeeded by Chauncey D. Leake who was the first Ph.D. dean of a medical school at the University of Texas at Galveston.  He was an authority on Leonardo da Vinci, medical papyri, amphetamines,and California wines.16,17He also served as President of AAAS.

January 8, 1978
"Oh! Dear Gene, - joy to you all for what you do so well! CurentContents is better all the time! So, go into the New Year, and in to the many many years with verve and good cheer, and rich satisfactions will be yours.
As ever Chauncey"


Williamina Himwich and Helen Field were employees of the project. Mina died several years ago but we were in regular contact. She was a brain physiologist and single-handedly indexed 50 years of the American Journal of Physiology. Helen Field is alive and married to Judge Giles Rich of the U.S. Patent Court of Appeals.
As Project Director, San Larkey reported directly to the head of the Armed Forces Medical Library, originally Colonel McNinch and then Frank Bradford Rogers.


The origins of Current Contents seems to interest a lot of people. How did you manage to start it? I wrote an essay on this called " How It All Began : With a Loan from HFC."25I've lost touch with Richard Gremling of Bell Labs but he gave me a contract to produce a customized edition of CC. However, I didn't have the sense to ask for an advance payment.

In order to pay the printer, I had to raise $500 so I could deliver the first issue. None of the banks would lend me money, so I went to HFC and got the money in about 10 minutes.


In those days, 6% per annum was normal bank interest.HFC charged 18% but you didn't have to keep the money for several months.So it turned out to be cheaper to pay 18% without service charges. And to get around the state law of a $500 maximum I went to different branches of  HFC. No computer records in those days!

Another person I met at the Welch Project was John Mauchly, the co-inventor of  ENIAC and UNIVAC. When I came to Philadelphia, we became good friends.I  had the sad task of doing a literature search for him about the blood disease to which he eventually succumbed. The University of Pennsylvania recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of ENIAC.

Brad Rogers is the person mainly responsible for developing the Medline system, described in my 1984 essay titled "Bring the National Library of Medicine into the Computer Age: A Tribute to Frank Bradway Rogers."18ISI is the continuing sponsor of the MLA Annual Award established in his name.

In that CC®essay, I refer to Seymour Taine


Estelle Brodman, Sam Lazerow, and Scott Adams of NLM, and Dave Kronick, Robert Hayne, an assistant editor at theArmy Medical Library, and a brilliant classics scholar, later came to work at SmithKline & French in Philadelphia, where I was a consultant. He eventually came to ISI as editor.19    On Tuesday, I had lunch with his wife Virginia.


Another colleague I first met at SmithKline was Irving H. Sher. He later came to work for me as Director of Research. He is shown here with ISI's former attorneys Kimber Vought and Arthur Seidel.

Not long after he came to ISI, Irv was joined by Art Elias from Wyeth. You know that Art is the former editor of JASIS. In this connection, let me mention Alan Gilchrist, the editor of the Journal of  Information Science. I saw him recently in London and he expressed regrets he could not come today.


Boris Anzlowar was one of the five original founders of the Information Industry Association -- the others being Bill Knox, Saul Herner, Jeffrey Norton, and myself. Boris worked for ISI as a consultant and translator.


HerbWhite20is another alumnus of ISI. He is now in Tucson, Arizona.


Henry Small
Bonnie Lawlor21
George Vladutz


I also met Sam Lazerow at the Welch Project. He became  my closest personal friend. He served in all three of the National Libraries (Agriculture, Medicine, and Library of Congress). He left LC to become Vice President of ISI.22He commuted from Baltimore every day. When he died, ISI established the annual Lazerow lectures which are held at a dozen library and information science schools.

In a short personal retrospective, time does not allow me to cover all the people and events covering almost half a century. Many of  you know that I started Current Contents®/Life Sciences in the 50s. ASIS people rarely know that my first contents page endeavor was in the field of documentation itself. I don't even have a copy of Contents in Advance, which I started at Welch in late 1952.  Later on it got me into hot water with my boss.

The Life Sciences edition of Current Contents became an official subscription service in 1958. Charlotte Studer was the special librarian at Miles Labs who gave me a contract in1957. However, the putative social sciences edition started in 1954 with the name Management's DocuMation Preview. I called my company DocuMation,Inc. which made Mort Taube very angry since he had founded Documentation, Inc. in 1953. When we changed the name of MDP to Current Contents around 1955, I also changed the company name to Eugene Garfield Associates,Information Engineers. Mort was mollified but the new name made the Pennsylvania professional licensing board angry because I did not have an engineering degree. So I dropped the subtitle information engineers. Then in 1960 I changed the name to the Institute for Scientific Information under the inspiration of the Russian VINITI. I bragged that we could do with 20 people what they could do with 20,000.23

What is significant about Current Contents vis-à-visASIS is somewhat bittersweet. CC® has never been discussed seriously in the literature of information science. Even Brad Rogers said Current  Contents was a "sop to appease the guilty conscienceof doctors who don't read" or words to that effect. He had underestimated the importance of timeliness and simplicity, the essence of he original Current List of Medical Literature started by Atherton Seidel during the war.The problem with Current Contents is that it is so simple and utilitarian that it gives theoreticians little to talk about. Current awareness isone thing -- information retrieval is something else. It is somewhat telling that when I taught at the Moore School of Engineering at Penn in the 60s,the engineers called CC an information retrieval tool!

Much of what I am telling you today has been covered in two oral history interviews -- one by Arnold Thackray and the other more recently by Robert V. Williams, both for the Chemical Heritage Foundation.24

As you get older, it becomes increasingly painful to keep up with the obituary columns. And you also realize that you have neglected to see old colleagues until it is too late. I was in regular contact by mail and phone with Andy Aines until he died.

I am delighted that so many old timers have been able to come to this meeting but there are many who are absent. Just last weekI was able to contact Seymour Taine after a 20-year hiatus. And I'm gladto say that Estelle Brodman, that doyenne of medical librarians and historians, is still with us. The MLA showed a remarkable video interview with her at the 100th Anniversary meeting in Philadelphia. I was delighted to hear that Fred Kilgour was able to come I need not elaborate on his contributions to library and information science, in particular OCLC.
Calvin Mooers was another pioneer Imet at Welch. I recently eulogized him in The Scientist.26

In the last few minutes, I would like just to run through  some of the remaining photos I was able to assemble. I do hope that ASIS will expand its web site to include photos of many more pioneers in this field.


Another non-traditional information pioneer I should mentionis Pierre Vinken. A neurosurgeon and editor, I met him in the 1950s whenthe Excerpta Medica Foundation was established. He converted this to a commercial enterprise which has become one of the world's largest publishing conglomerates -- Reed Elsevier.

There are dozens of other publisher friends I could mention like Tom Karger, Gunter Heyden, Per Saugman and others. On the other hand,this reflection would not be complete without mentioning Robert Maxwell.We met in the late 50s. Over the next 35 years he tried to acquire my company   in one way or another. I've briefly described our relations in the oral interview recently recorded by Bob Williams. One day I will describe in detail about how he tried but failed. He was a diabolical, driven genius.Fortunately, the competitive world of publishing is full of people who live and let live.

I have also not mentioned the dozens of science editors who are part of this scholarly publishing world such as Stephen Lock, Arnold  Relman, Drummond Rennie, George Lundberg, and Dan Koshland. I first met  Dan when I joined the Board of Annual Reviews. He retired as editor of Science and recently received the Lasker Award.
Annual Reviews as founded by J. MurrayLuck in 1932. He died a few years ago at 93. In 1979, Annual Reviews and ISI established the NAS Award for Scientific Reviewing.26a

Let me now quickly run through my remaining collection  of photos. My world of information science has been very broad in its scope.   Indeed, I have not really touched on the field of science communication which has been my main concern, not only in the indexing and abstracting  of the literature, but also in its reporting as exemplified by my newspaper, The Scientist. I think it is reasonable to state that it was the first full-text journal available on the Internet. The Scientist was the culmination of my 35 years of writing essays in Current Contents.That series of over 1,000 essays appeared in CC because I realized early on that readers found going through CC a necessary chore and the essays and cartoons gave them something concrete and amusing to read.I also had the unique opportunity to deliver a weekly message to readers behind the iron curtain. Hence my frequent allusion to the old adage that you are a prophet in a foreign land.

As a concluding remark, let me say why I have always looked to ASIS as my home base. While I have been a member of many societies including,ACS, ACM, IEEE, ALA, SLA, History of Science Society, and the NASW, I'vealways considered ASIS my primary professional home base. ASIS provideda link between my friends and competitors in the non-profit as well as for-profit worlds -- the link between academia, government and industry.However, I have always been critical of ASIS's failure or unwillingness to link theory with practice -- science and technology. I hope that inthe next several years as I serve as a Board member and President-Elect that I can not only help build bridges in those areas so that ASIS cannot only survive but grow and thrive the new millenium.

40. Per Saugman
41. Keith Bowker (asst. to Saugman)
42. Mike Kessler
43. Marvin Minsky
44. Paul Otlet - Mention H.G. Wells and World Brain26b, 26c
45. Luther Harris Evans
46. Vernon Dale Tate
47. Fred Tate
48. Dale Baker
49. Robert Hayes
49a. Harold Borko
50. Peter Luhn (Mention Herb Ohlman will be present at the meeting).26a
51. John Ziman
52. Phyllis Parkins
53. Roger Summit
54. Manfred Kochen27
55. Michael Whitehouse - and you with interesting hairdo
56. Harry Baum, Si Newman, John Martinson
57. Carlos Cuadra
58. Charles Bourne
59. Gerard Salton
60. Mike Moravcsik28
61. Belver Griffith (on left) and Mike Moravcsik (on right) at 1982 Conference.
62. Cyril Cleverdon

It is only fitting that I close on the Dorking Connection. It was one of the supreme moments of my young career to have been invited to this meeting where I met Cyril Cleverdon and other Commonwealth pioneers in 1957. Robert Fairthorne was there and I only wish his health allowed him to be here tonight.


1. backto text Merton, R.K. On the Shoulders of Giants

2. backto text Merton, R.K. "The Mathew Effect in Science,"Science159(3810):56-63 (1968).

3. backto text Garfield, E. "More on the Ethics of ScientificPublication: Abuses of Authorship Attribution and Citation Amnesia Undermine the Reward System of Science," Current Contents No. 30, pgs. 5-10(July 26, 1982). Reprinted in Essays of an Information Scientist,Volume 5, pgs. 621-626. Philadelphia: ISI Press, 1983.

4. backto text Bonitz, M. "The Scientific Talents of Nations," Libri 47(4):206-213 (December, 1997).

5. backto text Merton, R. K. Social Theory and SocialStructure pp 27-29, 35-38, NY: Free Press, 702 pgs. (1968)

6. backto text Garfield, E. "The 'Obliteration Phenomenon' in Science -- and the Advantage of Being Obliterated!" Current ContentsNo. 51/52, December 22, 1975, reprinted in Essays of  an Information Scientist, Volume 2, pp 396-398, Philadelphia: ISI Press (1977).

7. backto text Zuckerman, H. The Scientific Elite:Nobel Laureates in the United States. New Brunswick and London: Transaction Press (1996).

8. backto text Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information, Washington, DC, November 16-21,1958in Two Volumes. Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences, National Research Council, 1635 pgs., 1959.

8a. backto text Garfield, E. "J.D. Bernal -- The Sage of Cambridge. 4S Award Memorializes his Contributions to the Social Studies of Science," Current Contents No. 19, pgs.  5-17 (May 10, 1982).Reprinted in Essays of an Information Scientist, Volume 5, pgs.511-523, Philadelphia: ISI Press (1983)

9. backto text Goldsmith, M. J. D. Sage: A Life ofJ.D. Bernal. London: Hutchinson, 256 pgs. (1980).

10. backto text Goldsmith, M. Joseph Needham: 20th-Century Renaissance Man. Paris: UNESCO Publishing, 170pgs. (1995).

11. backto text Bernal, J.D. Social Function of Science. London: G. Routledge & Sons, Ltd., 482 pgs. (1939). Cambridge: M.I.T.Press, 482 pgs. (1967).

12. backto text Lederberg, J. "Digital Comunications and the Conduct of Science: the New Literacy," Proceedings of the IEEE,"66(11):27-30 (1964)

13. backto text Garfield, E. "A Tribute to Hilary Koprowski:Scientist, Musician, and Friend," Current Contents No. 29, pgs.5-10 (July 19, 1982). Reprinted in Essays of an Information Scientist,Volume 5, pgs. 615-620 (1983).

14. backto text Garfield, E. "Introducing the Copywriter and ISI's Subsidiary, Selective Information Devices, Inc. (SID)," Contents Current No. 19, pgs. 5-8 (May 2, 1973). Reprinted in Essays of an Information Scientist, Volume 1, pgs. 438-442, Philadelphia: ISI Press(1977).

15. backto text Garfield, E. "To Remember Ralph Shaw,"Current Contents No. 23, pgs. 5-11 (June 5, 1978). Reprinted in Essays of an Information Scientist, Volume 3, pgs. 504-510, Philadelphia: ISI Press (1980).

16. backto text Garfield, E. "Calling Attention to Chauncey D. Leake -- Renaissance Scholar Extraordinaire," Current Contents No. 16, ps. 5-6 (April 22, 1970). Reprinted in Essays of an Information Scientist, Volume 1, pgs 102-3, Philadelphia: ISI Press (1977).

17. backto text Garfield, E. "To Remember Chauncey D.Leake," Current Contents No. 7, pgs. 5-15 (Febuary 13, 1978). Reprintedin Essays of an Information Scientist, Volume 3, pgs. 411-421, Philadelphia:ISI Press (1980).

18. backto text Garfield, E. "Bringing the National Library of Medicine into the Computer Age: A Tribute to Frank Bradway Rogers."Current Contents No. 2, pgs. 5-11 (January 9, 1984). Reprinted inEssays of an Information Scientist, Volume 7, pgs 5-11, Philadelphia: ISIPress (1985).

19. backto text Garfield, E. "To Remember My Brother, Robert L. Hayne," Current Contents No. 34, pgs. 5-6 (August 22,1977). Reprinted in Essays of an Information Scientist, Volume 3,pgs. 213-214, Philadelphia: ISI Press (1980).

20. backto text Garfield, E. "Introducing Herbert S. White,ISI's Senior Vice-President for Operations and Administration," Current Contents No. 3 (January 26, 1972). Reprinted in Essays of an Information Scientist, Volume 1, Philadelphia: ISI Press (1977).

21. backto text Garfield, E. " Bonnie Lawlor's Silver Anniversary at ISI--A Tribute," Current Contents No. 15 (April 12,1993). Reprinted in Essays of an Information Scientist, Volume 15,Philadelphia: ISI Press (1993).

22. backto text Garfield, E. "Introducing Samuel Lazerow,ISI's Vice President for Administration," Current Contents No. 44,pgs. 5-6 (November 1, 1972). Reprinted in Essays of an Information Scientist,Volume 1, pgs. 374-375, Philadelphia: ISI Press (1977).

23. backto text Garfield, E. "Hearings before the subcommittee of the Committee on Government Operations, House of Representatives, Ninety-Third Congress, second session ," Federal Information Systems and Plans -- Implications and Issues, Part 3, U.S. Government Printing Office. Washington, D.C.:GPO,p.883-901 (1974).

24. backto text      http://www.chemheritage.org

25. backto text Garfield E. "How it all Began: With a Loan from HFC," Current Contents No. 3, pgs. 5-8 (January 21, 1980).Reprinted in Essays of an Information Scientist, Volume 4, pgs.359-362, Philadelphia: ISI Press 1981).

26. backto text Garfield, E. "A Tribute To Calvin N. Mooers,A Pioneer of Information Retrieval," The Scientist,11(6):9 (March17, 1997).

26a. backto text Garfield, E. "The NAS James Murray Luck Award for Excellence in Scientific Reviewing: G. Alan Robison Receives the First Award for His Work on Cyclic AMP," Current Contents No.18, pgs. 5-9 (April 30, 1979). Reprinted in Essays of an Information Scientist, Volume 4, pages 127-131, Philadelphia: ISI Press (1981).

26b. backto text Garfield, E. "Towards the world brain,"Current Contents (October 6, 1964). Reprinted in Essays of an Information Scientist, Volume 1, pg. 8, Philadelphia: ISI Press (1977).

26c. backto text Garfield, E. " The world brain as seen by an information entrepreneur," Current Contents No. 48, pgs. 5-12(November 29, 1977). Reprinted in Essays of an Information Scientist,Volume 2, pgs. 638-645 (1977). http://garfield.library.upenn.edu/essays/v2p638y1974-76.pdfand

27. backto text Garfield, E. "Manfred Kochen: In Memory of  an  Information Scientist Pioneer qua World Brain-ist," Current ContentsNo. 25, pgs. 3-14 (June 19, 1989). Reprinted in Essays of an InformationScientist, Volume 12, Philadelphia: ISI Press (1991)

28. backto text Garfield, E. "Michael J. Moravcsik: Multidimensional Scholar and Hero of Third World Science," Current  Contents No. 2,pgs. 3-12 (January 8, 1990), Reprinted in Essays of an Information Scientist,Volume 13, Philadelphia: ISI Press (1991).

26a. backto textGarfield, E. "The NAS James Murray LuckAward for Excellence in Scientific Reviewing: G. Alan Robison Receivesthe First Award for His Work on Cyclic AMP," Current Contents No.18, pgs. 5-9 (April 30, 1979). Reprinted in Essays of an InformationScientist, Volume 4, pages 127-131, Philadelphia: ISI Press (1981).http://garfield.library.upenn.edu/essays/v4p127y1979-80.pdf