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JAMA 100 Years Ago
April 18, 2001


Author Affiliations

JenniferReiling, Assistant Editor

JAMA. 2001;285(15):1935. doi:10.1001/jama.285.15.1935

It is a common failing of mankind to long for what it has not and to be unappreciative of what it possesses. No medical man whose studies necessitate reference to the literature of his subject can have failed, many times and deeply, to regret the dissolution of the Index Medicus. It is true that the deficiency resulting therefrom has been made good in part by the publication of various indices and digests, but it must be admitted that none, or even all of these together, represent the completeness that gave especial value to the Index Medicus. The latest endeavor in this direction consists in the formation, under the auspices of the Royal Society, of an international catalogue of scientific literature, as the result of several international conferences in the course of the last few years. The work of cataloguing has already been begun and is in active progress; and it is hoped that all papers published after January 1 of the present year will be indexed, both according to subject and according to author. Each participating nation is to be responsible for the indexing of the papers published in that country, and a central bureau is to collect, coordinate and publish the results of the labors of the various national bureaus. The perfection and the success of the work can be materially contributed to by the cooperation of medical authors, in sending to the respective bureaus separate copies, or full titles, with notes and place and date, of their publications; and, also index-slips indicating under two or three main headings the subjects treated. Such a bureau has already been opened in London for Great Britain, but we have not as yet seen any notice of the establishment of an American bureau, and we are without details as to the exact mode and form of publication and distribution. The plan appears to be entirely feasible, and it is most heartily deserving of success. It should receive the unstinted support of the medical profession the world over, as the utility of such a catalogue is not to be overestimated.