Memories of the 1957 Dorking Conference

Eugene Garfield

   In the Spring of 1957, I temporarily shared an office in Washington, DC, at Thomas Circle with my new partner Harry Brager.  He wisely recommended changing the title of  "Management's Documation Preview" to Current Contents®.1
    A few weeks later, I received an unexpected invitation to discuss CC® and citation indexing (based on my papers in Science2 and the Journal of the Patent Office Society 3) at an International Conference on Classification for Information Retrieval to be held in Dorking, England.  The conference was only a few weeks off and I was nearly broke.  Using TWA's installment plan, I bought a round-trip  $489 ticket.
    Dorking was my first personal encounter with British information scientists.  I would meet J. D. Bernal in connection with the science of science movement, but  not until the following year in Washington.
    It is quite possible that Jesse Shera, editor of American Documentation had suggested I be invited.  Other participants included Robert Fairthorne, D. J. Foskett, Eric J. Coates, Cyril Cleverdon, Brian C. Vickery, D. J. Campbell, N. T. Ball, Jack Wells, Barbara Kyle, John Mills, and last, but not least,
S. R. Ranganathan.4  I spoke at length with Ranganathan and others about my earlier meeting with Henry Evelyn Bliss in 1954. The Bliss classification was better known in the U.K. then in the U.S. thanks to Jack Mills.
    FID publication #7146 commemorated the 40th anniversary of Dorking.  Unfortunately, I was unaware of this 1997 meeting, so I missed the opportunity to catch up with old friends many of whom I had not seen for years.  In that reminiscence of the Dorking conference, Robert Fairthorne mentioned my "surprise" at the British members "disagreeing without being disagreeable,"6a unlike the rancor frequently encountered at the early meetings of the American Documentation Institute.  On the other hand, Cyril Cleverdon recalled the evening when "Gene Garfield defended his proposals for a citation index against a group of very skeptical and outspoken critics,"6b including Cyril himself!7  Jean Aitchison recalled me as " a young man vigorously marketing his ideas of journal contents lists, at an extra evening session."6c   Indeed, 1957 was the year that the Life Sciences edition of Current Contents was introduced to the pharmaceutical industry.
    The 1957 Proceedings volume, Page 98, contains a concise account of citation indexes covered in the evening session on May 14th.8
    On the second day, I realized that if I attended Wednesday's session, I would not see London.  So I took an early morning train to Victoria Station.  During the next 15 hours, I visited everything from the Tower of London to Parliament and the British Museum Library.  I arrived at Victoria Station about midnight and was shocked to learn that it was closed.  The only transportation to Dorking was a taxi.  When I chaired the morning session the next day, the audience gasped when I said that I had taxied from London.  I didn't mention that it used most of my remaining cash.
    This remarkable meeting eventually led to my joining the UK Institute of Information Scientists, which in 1966 gave me an Honorary Fellowship.  Through IIS, I made the friendship of researchers like John Martyn, Alan Gilchrist, Charles Oppenheim, and others too numerous to mention.  Somewhat later, I met Tony Cawkell, who became ISI's man in London and then Director of Research.


1. Garfield, E. "Current Contents -- Ninth Anniversary," Current Contents (February 21, 1967).  Reprinted in Essays of an Information Scientist, Volume 1.  Philadelphia: ISI Press, pgs. 12-13 (1977).

2. Garfield E.  Citation Indexes for Science: A New Dimension in Documentation through Association of Ideas," Science 122(3159):108-11, 1955.) Reprinted in Essays of an Information Scientist, Volume 6.  Philadelphia: ISI Press, pgs. 468-471 (1984).

3. Garfield, E.  "Breaking the Subject Index Barrier -- A Citation Index for Chemical Patents," Journal of the Patent Office Society 39(8):583-595 (August 1957). Reprinted in Essays of an Information Scientist, Volume 6.  Philadelphia: ISI Press, pgs. 472-484 (1984).

4a. Garfield, E.  "A Tribute to S.R. Ranganathan, the Father of Indian Library Science. Part 1. Life and Works," Current Contents No. 6, pgs. 5-12 (February 6, 1984). Reprinted in Essays of an Information Scientist, Volume 7.  Philadelphia: ISI Press, pgs. pgs. 37-44 (1985).

4b. Garfield, E.  " A Tribute to S.R. Ranganathan, the Father Library Science.  Part 2.  Contribution to Indian and International Library Science,"  Current Contents No. 7, pgs.  3-7 (February 13, 1984). Reprinted in Essays of an Information Scientist, Volume 7.  Philadelphia: ISI Press, pgs. 45-49 (1985).

5. Garfield, E.  "The 'Other' Immortal:  A Memorable Day with Henry E. Bliss," Current Contents No. 15, pgs. 7-8 (April 14, 1975). Essays of an Information Scientist, Volume 7.  Philadelphia: ISI Press, pgs. pgs. 37-44 (1985).

6. Gilchrist, Alan, ed. FID Publication 714:  From Classification to 'Knowledge Organization': Dorking Revisited or 'Past is Prelude,'" The Hague:  FID General Secretariat (1997) 186 pgs.

6a. ibid, v

6b. ibid, vi

6c. ibid, vii

7a. Cleverdon, C.  "Citation Indexing," Nature 203(4944):446 (1964).

7b. Cleverdon, C.  "Science Citation Index, An International Interdisciplinary Index to the Literature of Science," Revue Internationale de la Documentacion 31(4):161 (1964).

8. Garfield, E.  in "Summary of Discussions," Proceedings of the International Study Conference on Classification for Information Retrieval.  London:  ASLIB; New York:  Pergamon, pg. 98 (1957).

Last Page | Next Page | Index
Biographical Information on Eugene Garfield

Project coordinator: Dr. Robert Williams     Site design: Eric Chamberlin   Comments may be sent to: