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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.: 0165
Interview Date: July 29, 1997
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Interviewer: Robert V. Williams
No. of pages: 102
Sponsor: Eugene Garfield Foundation
Eugene Garfield Foundation

  Abstract of Interview

Eugene Garfield begins the interview with a discussion of The Johns Hopkins University Welch Library indexing project. Garfield joined this project in 1951, during which he became involved in machine methods for indexing and searching literature. He worked on automating Current List of Medical Literature and experimented with punched cards and zato coding. During his tenure there, he helped to organize a symposium to demonstrate the project's work, at which he met many pioneering information scientists. Also while at the project, Garfield developed his idea for Contents in Advance. He discusses his relationship with Sanford V. Larkey, and his decision to attended library school at Columbia University. After graduating, Garfield joined Smith, Kline & French as a consultant. He eventually set up his own company, DocuMation, Inc., and worked on many projects, including a Genetics Citation Index for the NIH and Management's DocuMation Preview. Garfield discusses the development of Current Contents, the growth of his business, and the challenges he encountered. In the 1960s, he launched Science Citation Index, a concept that was later expanded to include other fields of literature. Garfield was also involved in many professional organizations throughout his career, including the Information Industry Association (IIA). He addresses the evolution of his company, Institute for Scientific Information (ISI), his colleagues, and his decision to sell ISI. Garfield concludes the interview with a discussion of his experience with VINITI, changes in library education, and the future role of the Internet.


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

Welch Indexing Project 1

Producing the Current List of Medical Literature. Efforts at automation. Using the IBM 101. Punched card technology. Welch Conference. Colleagues. Leaving the project.

Beginning a Business 23

Publishing Contents in Advance. Attending library school at Columbia. Forming DocuMation, Inc. Consulting for Smith, Kline & French. NIH grant. Management's DocuMation Preview. Contract with Bell Labs. Changing name to Eugene Garfield Associates. Current Contents. Working with Claire Schultz. Subscriptions. Copyright difficulties.

Institute for Scientific Information 46

Launching Science Citation Index. Financial problems. Competing with Chemical Abstracts. Index Chemicus. Using the Wiswesser system. Genetics Citation Index. Colleagues at ISI.

User Information 58

Utilization of citation indexes. Database. Interest in a book citation index.

Information Science Organizations 66

NSF grant to Chemical Abstracts Service. Founding of IIA. NFAIS for non-profits.

Conclusion 74

Controversy with Scientific American. Evolution of ISI. Decision to sell ISI. Experience with VINITI. Future of library education. Role of Internet.

Notes 92

Index 94

  About the Interviewer

Robert V. Williams

Robert V. Williams is a professor of library and information science at the University of South Carolina. He holds a Ph.D. in library and information studies from the University of Wisconsin, Madison; an M.S. in library and information science from Florida State University; and an M.A. in history from New York University. Before joining the University of South Carolina in 1978, he was an archivist and information services manager for the Ford Foundation, and the Georgia Department of Archives and History. Williams has also been an information consultant for many organizations including Appalachian Council of Governments of Greenville, South Carolina, and Pontifical Catholic University Madre y Maestra, Dominican Republic. He came to the Chemical Heritage Foundation as the Eugene Garfield Fellow in the History of Scientific Information in 1997. He is a member of the South Carolina Historical Records Advisory Board, the American Library Association (ALA), and the American Society for Information Science (ASIS), where he served as chair of ASIS History and Foundations of Information Science Special Interest Group in 1994–1995. Williams is also a member of the Special Libraries Association (SLA) and Chair of the SLA Membership Committee. Williams has numerous publications on the historical role of information science.

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