The Historical Origins of Biological Abstracts

Precursors—1917–1925 Botanical Abstracts and Abstracts of Bacteriology
  • William Campbell Steere


Before launching into an account of the actual founding of Biological Abstracts, Inc., both as an organization and as a publication, it is first necessary to set the stage for that important historical landmark in international information science. Dr. John Flynn, in his brief history of Biological Abstracts (1951) of a quarter of a century ago, ascribed to World War I the whole reason for the need for an American information service for biology (although information systems were then far in the future, and not even to be imagined until World War II ushered in the electronic age). To be sure, World War I did bring home to the rank and file of biologists their urgent need for such information services when, after the United States entered the war in 1917, the already diminishing flow of German abstracting journals and other periodicals to this country was dramatically and abruptly turned off. For example, the American biologists had long relied for current information on several journals that published reviews, indexes, and abstracts—the botanists on Botanisches Centralblatt, Justs Botanischer Jahresbericht, Hedwigia, and the Zeitschrift für Pflanzenkrankheiten; the zoologists on Zoologischer Bericht and Berichte über Wissenschaftliche Biologie; and the bacteriologists on Zentralblatt für Bakteriologie.


Annual Meeting Executive Committee Subject Index Historical Origin Botanical Society 
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Copyright information

© Biosciences Information Service of Biological Abstracts 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • William Campbell Steere
    • 1
  1. 1.New York Botanical GardenUSA

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