The Great Contribution: Index Medicus, Index-Catalogue, And Indexcat (Report) - Journal of the Medical Library Association

Title: The Great Contribution: Index Medicus, Index-Catalogue, And Indexcat (Report)

Author: Journal of the Medical Library Association

Date: 2009-04-01

The Great Contribution: Index Medicus, Index-Catalogue, And Indexcat (Report) - Journal of the Medical Library Association

INTRODUCTION William Henry Welch (1850-1934), the great pathologist and bibliophile, is famously quoted as saying that the systematic indexing of medical literature, begun by John Shaw Billings at what was then the Library of the Surgeon-General's Office, United States Army (known today as the National Library of Medicine [NLM]), was "America's greatest contribution to medical knowledge." * He apparently was sincere in this belief. In fact, he made this statement several times, to different audiences, and in such varied contexts that it is not easy to be certain just what Welch was praising: Billings's commitment to indexing or the two products of this commitment, Index Medicus and the Index-Catalogue of the Library of the Surgeon-General's Office, United States Army.