History of Medicine
The Index-Catalogue of the Library of the Surgeon-General’s Office (Index-Catalogue)* is a multi-part printed bibliography or list of items in the Library of the Surgeon-General’s Office, U.S. Army. It contains material dated from the 1400s through 1950 and is an important resource for researchers in the history of medicine, history of science, and for clinical research.
The Index-Catalogue was published in five (5) series in sixty-one (61) volumes from 1880-1961. Since it is a list of holdings for a specific library, it does not claim to be an index of all material published in medicine. By 1895, however, the Surgeon-General’s Library was the world’s largest medical library. Therefore, its catalog became a major source for accessing medical literature. The scope of Index-Catalogue extends beyond medicine and includes, for example, the basic sciences, scientific research, military medicine, public health, and hospital administration. Language coverage is international with citations in European and Slavic languages, Greek script, and Romanized Chinese and Japanese titles - some with English translations. The catalogue covers a wide assortment of materials including: books, journal articles, dissertations, pamphlets, reports, newspaper clippings, case studies, obituary notices, letters, portraits, as well as rare books and manuscripts.
John Shaw Billings, first editor of the Index-Catalogue, writes in his Introduction to Series 1, v.1:
“In conclusion, permit me to call attention to the fact that this is not a complete medical bibliography, and that any one who relies upon it as such will commit a serious error. It is a Catalogue of what is to be found in a single collection,—a collection so large and of such a character, that there are few subjects in medicine with regard to which something may not be found in it, but which is by no means complete. It is hoped, however, that the many physicians, both in this country and in Europe, to whom the Library is under obligations for contributions and influence, will find in this volume a proof that their aid and sympathy have not been wasted.
Your obedient servant,
J. S. BILLINGS,
Bvt. Lt. Col. and Surgeon, U. S. Army.”
For background on the Library and Billing’s role in its growth, see: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/about/briefhistory.html
- Primarily journal articles, books, dissertations, pamphlets, and reports.
- Last publication year for monographs is 1950.
- Last publication year for journal articles is 1949 but represents only those articles indexed with subject headings from A-Mn. See Publication Information below.
- Arranged in a primary alphabet of subject headings and authors-titles of monographs (books, dissertations, pamphlets, and reports).
- Contains two sub-alphabets under each subject heading that lists books from A-Z and journal articles in a separate A-Z arrangement.
- Reflects the collection of a single library – the Library of the Surgeon-General’s Office, U. S. Army, and is not a bibliography of all existing material.
- By 1895, the Library was the world’s largest medical library.
- Printed in 61 volumes in 5 series published from 1880–1961.
- Contains material dated from the 15th through the 20th centuries.
- 4th series is incomplete: ends with v.11, alphabet through Mn.
- 5th series coverage ends with 1950 imprints.
- 5th series contains no journal articles.
Index-Catalogue of the Library of the Surgeon-General’s Office, 1880-1961.
The printed catalog retained its title throughout the publication of all five series, except for the sponsoring body. As the Library was organizationally renamed or transferred, these names substituted for the original ‘United States Army’. Therefore, in the citation above, this portion of the title is omitted.
Complete titles and associated series and volumes for each organization are:
Index-Catalogue of the Library of the Surgeon-General’s Office, United States Army.
- v.1-16, 1880–1895. [1st ser.]
- v.1-21, 1896–1916. 2nd ser.
- v.1-10, 1918–1932. 3rd ser.
Index-Catalogue of the Library of the Surgeon-General’s Office, Army Medical Library (U.S.).
- 4th ser., v.1-10, 1936–1948.
Index-Catalogue of the Library of the Surgeon-General’s Office, Armed Forces Medical Library (U.S.).
- 4th ser., v.11, 1955.
Index-Catalogue of the Library of the Surgeon-General’s Office, National Library of Medicine (U.S.)).
- 5th ser., v.1-3, 1959–1961.