International Union of the History and Philosophy of Science

Division of History of Science

related to UNESCO through the International Council for Science (ICSU)

and the Conseil International de la Philosophie et des Sciences Humaines (CIPSH)


The Secretary General

23 October 2002

Working document of the

"Online Dictionary of National History of Sciences Bibliographies and Archival Sources"

project presented by the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science/Division of History of Science.


Derived from the proposed Strategic Plan for the DHS put forward by the Secretary General, the Commission on Bibliography and Documentation responded favorably by pointing out that, within the framework and in compliance with the objectives identified in this plan to ensure tools to help advance international research in the history of science, a long-term project to promote scientific bibliography could be engaged. To further the IUHPS/DHS mission statement to advocate the free exchange of scientific information and unimpeded access of historians of science to participate in activities related to the history of science, the Secretary General and the Commission on Bibliography and Documentation presented to the International Council for Philosophy and Humanistic Studies on 26 June 2002 the project entitled "Online Dictionary of National History of Sciences Bibliographies and Archival Sources".


The Online dictionary of bibliographies and archival sources will provide information about (and links to) bibliographies of archival and printed sources already accessible on the internet; provide online access to bibliographies of archival and printed sources already prepared/in preparation in the IUHPS member countries, and will encourage new work with the prospect of prompt web access.

This proposed dictionary of national bibliographies and archival sources is aimed at having a truly international scope with prospective input from the 49 member countries of the IUHPS/DHS and from its thematic commissions and scientific sections.  The use of new technology is aimed at achieving a degree of circulation in the learned community and beyond that has hitherto been unobtainable by traditional publication.


In agreement with the Commission of Bibliography and Documentation and the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), the IUHPS/DHS under the sponsorship of CIPSH, has proposed to undertake the implementation of this long-term project in three fronts simultaneously. A short description of these proposed fronts follows with an identification of issues that have yet to be resolved.

First front

This first phase should deal with the creation of an initial central modest website with statement of intent and that will appropriately direct the user to other available sources of existing web-based bibliographies and archival sources. The assurance that the IUHPS/DHS can establish and maintain this website has been done through the negotiations with the Computing and Data Department of the UNAM.

Issues that have yet to be resolved in this front are mainly on the compilation of these available sources that will illustrate the importance and potential breadth of the project.

Second front

This stage will need to work around a reporting stage that will survey the extent of bibliographical activity that is currently assembled. We must then seek securement of those bibliographies which are already available in certain countries to be incorporated in the central website and create the stimulus for National committees to create the bibliographies where these do not exist. This stage will need to be supervised by a committee of experts, that should include historians of science, archivists and bibliographers as well as technical assessors, in order to make the vital decisions so that any created guidelines fit with the established standards set by the international community of librarians, archivists and historians of science. Also all technical aspects regarding the maintenance of the website must initially be considered to avoid any constraints in future developments of the project. This committee of experts could also exercise some quality control over listings that are offered in the website.

Main tasks of the second front are: develop strategies to integrate into electronic format those bibliographies which are not. Develop copyright clearances in those cases in which they exist. Convince owners of current bibliographies to join the project.

Third front

The ultimate goal will be to make readily available the inventory of bibliographies in a cross-searchable database of inputted bibliographies. This will be dependent on the agreed standards by the committee of experts and must take into consideration the technical requirements of those maintaining the website. As well the expected outcome will be to include not only the bibliographies themselves but also guides to archives in a particular subject area or country. This of course, implies the continuation of this project throughout several years.

  First front
OCTOBER 2002 Preliminary agreement of IUHPS/DHS and the Commission on Bibliography and Documentation with UNAM authorities on setup, maintenance and technical requirements through a conjunct Technical Committee.
DECEMBER 2002 Commencement on the survey of bibliographical activity and setup of an initial website.
APRIL 2003 Expert meeting in Paris, under the auspices of CIPSH and Maison des Sciences de l’Homme
MAY 2003 Report to the Experts Committee on the survey of bibliographical activity.
JUNE 2003 Exhortation to all DHS national members to set up national committees regarding the creation of their own national bibliographies (if nonexistent)
  Second front
2004- ongoing Ongoing process of inclusion of prepared bibliographies into the central website.
  Third front
2005-ongoing Completion of cross-searchable database and continued inclusion of prepared bibliographies into the central website.

Juan José Saldaña

Secretary General of the IUHPS/DHS

Peter Harper

President of the DHS Commission on Bibliography and Documentation.


National Cataloguing Unit for the Archives of Contemporary Scientists,

University Library,
University of Bath.