Information Access Seminar

From Science Information's Concilium Bibliographicum of the 1890s to Espionage...

Friday, November 9, 2007
2:00 pm to 4:00 pm

This talk describes a forthcoming book on the history of an 1890s attempt to create and sustain a world-wide, random-access, cumulative, and updatable data-base of all scientific information indexed in an "international language", a language that helped to develop the UDC. The Zurich Concilium's history was deep and long. It's fate was tied to the birth of the American research university, the wealth and values of a liberal American Quaker family, the struggles between pragmatic and theoretical information specialists, the internationalist movements (including the work of Paul Otlet), the rise of America's eastern liberal elite and its institutions, the nationalist urge in American science information, and, much, much more,--including the modern art movement. The history of the Concilium's founder, and his family, are also linked to: the ambitions of the American intelligence agencies in World Wars I and II; Soviet espionage in the 1930s and 1940s; the brutal purges in Eastern and Central Europe in the 1940s and 1950s; and, the shaping the cold war's science information systems.

Colin Burke is Emeritus Professor, Department of History, University of Maryland, Baltimore County. His writings include Information and Secrecy: Vannevar Bush, Ultra, and the Other Memex (Scarecrow Press, 1994), The Secret in Building 26: The Untold Story of America's Ultra War against the U-boat Enigma Codes (with Jim DeBrosse) (Random House, 2004), and "History of Information Science," Annual Review of Information Science and Technology, 4 (2007): 3-54.

Last updated:

March 26, 2015