Mapping the International Congresses

At the annual board meeting of the Commission on Bibliography and Documentation (CBD) this past summer in Berlin, we decided that our commission needed to work on documentation of our discipline’s international activities. The CBD is part of the International Union’s History of Science division and so has a mandate to document the discipline. We decided that the first step in that direction was to pull together as much information as we could about the international congresses that have been held every three or four years since 1929.

To that end, I made a list of all the congresses, their dates and locations, something that was not readily accessible on the web, although thankfully the International Academy of the History of Science did have that information interwoven with their history. I have now added this information to the Wikipedia page for the International Union for the History and Philosophy of Science. Each congress listing is linked to one or two relevant publications on WorldCat (proceedings or abstracts).

Inernational Congresses, 1929-2013

Detail of a Map of the International Congresses of the History of Science, 1929-2013. (To view the whole map with all of the congresses, use the link in the main text.)

I’ve also uploaded that information into a Google Fusion Table, which automatically geotagged the cities, so now you can find a map of the international congresses. Each pin on the map links to the basic information about each congress, including one of the WorldCat document links.

As we move forward on this project, much more information will need to be gathered. We eventually would like to have all of the abstracts and proceedings digitized. If this could be organized properly, the resulting dataset should provide a fascinating picture of the history of the discipline worldwide over the past century. Digitized in this way, we could explore the history using big data analysis tools.

We also hope to incorporate archival sources as we are able. Information about the major archival collections relevant to the community’s organizational history needs to be pulled together into one accessible source file. Too often this material gets forgotten and dispersed.

If all goes well, in the next few years we will be able to accumulate a deep resource for the history of the discipline, and give scholars a way of easily navigating among the different sites. If any reader knows of resources that will help us with this documentation project, please let me know either through email or a comment on this post.

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