Special Project: Compile and Analyze Cumulative IsisCB Data (1913-present)


To historicize and analyze the over 100 years (1913-present) of citation data from the Isis Bibliography (at various points knows as Critical, Cumulative, Current, or just CB).


  • Show that data cannot be treated ahistorically, that to obtained meaningful results from any kind of programmatic analysis of data, we must understand the data itself as a historical object
  • To learn about the history of the discipline of the history of science
  • To show that bibliographic data can and should be taken more seriously by historians as a useful object of study
  • Prepare legacy data (1913-1975) to be ingested into the CB Explore system used to house the current data and to provide interfaces for both CB stuff and general users

The Data

  • Over 350,000 unique citations spanning over 100 years
  • Compiled over this time by four different bibliographers
  • Majority of the citations with assigned subject classifications
  • Data from 1975 on, linked to authorities, also assigned subject terms

The Team

  • Sylwester Ratowt served various roles in the bibliography since 2002, from data entry to developing data models. As a historian of science, Ratowt has researched the use of bibliographies and ephemeral information technologies to creating new scientific communities and achieving scientific consensus.  Ratowt also has a masters degree in Library Studies, having researched classification systems.
  • Stephen Weldon, the CB bibliographer since 2002. In addition to being in charge of developing the classification schema, data models, and production environment for the Bibliography over the last 20 years, Weldon has published a number of articles on the history of the bibliography as well as digital humanities. 

Current Status

  • The technology is currently based on python/jupyter/pandas. This is a very preliminary stage, however, and there is no commitment to this stack. 

Next Steps

  • Find a collaborator who is a historian-programmer with interests in history of information technology, history of the history of science, bibliography.