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Eugene Garfield

Eugene Garfield

CHF Collections, Photograph by Douglas A. Lockard

  • Born: September 16, 1925, New York, New York

  Interview Details

Interview no.: 0078
Interview Date: November 16, 1987
Location: Institute for Scientific Information, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Interviewers: Jeffrey L. Sturchio and Arnold Thackray
No. of pages: 46
Minutes: 180

  Abstract of Interview

Eugene Garfield begins this interview by recalling his youth in New York, his family background and early education. He describes his interest in the West, his first jobs in Colorado and California, and his brief military career, injury and subsequent medical discharge. Garfield continues by discussing his undergraduate degree in chemistry, the influence of his first ACS meeting and the Division of Chemical Literature on his life's work. He also talks about his participation in the Welch Medical Library project. In the middle portion of the interview, Garfield focuses on the origin and development of the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) and its products, including major publications. He also describes his doctoral studies at the University of Pennsylvania, and difficulties in having his thesis approved. The interview concludes with a discussion of his patents for a copying device, an analysis of the successes of ISI, and speculation on ISI's future activities.


1949 B.S., Chemistry, Columbia University
1954 M.S., Library Science, Columbia University
1961 Ph.D., Structural Linguistics, University of Pennsylvania

  Professional Experience

Evans Research & Development Corp.

1949 - 1950 Laboratory Chemist

Columbia University

1950 - 1951 Research Chemist

Johns Hopkins University

1951 - 1953 Staff member, Welch Machine Indexing Project

Eugene Garfield Associates

1954 - 1960 President

Institute for Scientific Information

1960 - 1992 President and CEO

Institute for Scientific Information

1992 - 1992 Chairman

Institute for Scientific Information

1993 Chairman Emeritus

ASIS&T (American Society for Information Science & Technology)

1998 - 2000 President

The Scientist LLC

2001 President


1953 - 1954 Grolier Society Fellow, Columbia University
1966 Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
1966 Fellow, Institute of Information Scientists
1975 Award of Merit, American Society of Information Scientists
1977 Hall of Fame Award, Information Industry Association
1977 Herman Skolnik Award, Division of Chemical Information, American Chemical Society
1978 Book Award for Best Information Science Book of 1977 (Essays of an Information Scientist, Vol.:1 & 2, 1962–1976), American Society of Information Science
1980 Award, Chemical Notation Society
1983 Patterson-Crane Award, American Chemical Society
1983 John Price Wetherill Medal, Franklin Institute
1984 Derek J. de Solla Price Memorial Medal, Scientometrics
1986 John Scott Award, City of Philadelphia
1987 Distinguished Alumni Award, Columbia University, School of Library Service
1988 Doctor honoris causa, Vrije Universiteit, Brussels, Belgium
1990 Honorary Ph.D., State University of New York, Albany
1991 Honorary Fellow, Society for Technical Communication
1991 Honorary Ph.D., Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia
1993 Honorary Fellow, Medical Libraries Association
1993 Honorary Foreign Member, Institute of Marine Biology, Vladivostok, Russia
1993 M.D. honoris causa, University of Rome, Tor Vergata, Italy
1995 M.D. honoris causa, Charles University, Czech Republic
1999 Avenue of Technology Award, Philadephia, Pennsylvania
2000 Professor Kaula Award for Library and Information Science, India
2007 Richard J. Bolte, Sr., Award for Supporting Industries, Chemical Heritage Foundation

  Table of Contents

Title and Description Page

Childhood and Early Education 1

Parents and early childhood in the East Bronx. Move to the West Bronx. Public schools. Influence of uncles. Stepfather. Peter Stuyvesant High School. Summer work in the garment district. Transfer to De Witt Clinton High School. Academic effects of a trip to Florida. Senior English Teacher.

Early College Studies and Military Career 4

Interest in the West. Summer job in Colorado. First semester at the University of Colorado. Working in California and Denver. Joins Merchant Marine. Drafted by the Army. Volunteers for 10th Mountain Division. Officer Training School. Medical Discharge.

Undergraduate Studies 6

Summer school at Columbia. First marriage. Two years at Berkeley. Move to New York. Divorce and custody of son. Interest in child care. Change from premed to chemistry major. Undergraduate degree from Columbia. Sales correspondent for LaSalle University. Junior chemist at Evans Research and Development.

Graduate Work and First Work in Chemical Literature 9

Laboratory Assistant to Louis Hammett at Columbia. First publication. First ACS meeting and the Division of Chemical Literature. Job offer from James Perry. Welch Medical Library project. SHAL and MeSH. Committee of Honorary Consultants. Sanford V. Larkey. Public Symposium on Machine Methods in Scientific Documentation. Shephard's Citations.

First Publication Activities 14

Termination from Welch project. Graduate courses at Columbia Library School. Associate editor of American Documentation. Consultant for Smith, Kline & French. Publishes Contents in Advance. Second marriage. Contract with Bell Laboratories. Financing publication activities.

Origin of Major Publications and Formation of Private Company 20

Origin of Current Contents. Outside financial support. Early subscribers. First office and employees. Science Citation Index. Origin of the Institute for Scientific Information. Origin of Index Chemicus. Doctoral studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Difficulties with thesis approval.

Growth and Development of ISI 29

Patents for a copying device. Committee for Sensory Devices and Aids to the Blind. Selling ISI products. ASCA. Importance and success of publishing cumulations. Extending publication activities to social sciences and humanities. Publication of The Scientist. Speculation on the future activities of ISI.

Notes 37

Index 40

  About the Interviewer

Jeffrey L. Sturchio

Jeffrey L. Sturchio is president and CEO of the Global Health Council. Previously he served as vice president of corporate responsibility at Merck & Co., president of the Merck Company Foundation, and chairman of the U.S. Corporate Council on Africa. Sturchio is currently a visiting scholar at the Institute for Applied Economics and the Study of Business Enterprise at Johns Hopkins University and a member of the Global Agenda Council on the Healthy Next Generation of the World Economic Forum. He received an A.B. in history from Princeton University and a Ph.D. in the history and sociology of science from the University of Pennsylvania.

Arnold Thackray

Arnold Thackray founded the Chemical Heritage Foundation and served the organization as president for 25 years. He is currently CHF’s chancellor. Thackray received M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in history of science from Cambridge University. He has held appointments at Cambridge, Oxford University, and Harvard University, the Institute for Advanced Study, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

In 1983 Thackray received the Dexter Award from the American Chemical Society for outstanding contributions to the history of chemistry. He served for more than a quarter century on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania, where he was the founding chairman of the Department of History and Sociology of Science and is currently the Joseph Priestley Professor Emeritus.

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