The Founding of Biological Abstracts

The Concept and the Publication
  • William Campbell Steere


No other American scientific publication or organization of comparable size can possibly have had a longer gestation period, with more midwives in attendance throughout, than Biological Abstracts! A full six years were to elapse between the first informal meeting to consider its conception in December, 1920, and the appearance of the first issue of Biological Abstracts in December, 1926. Yet these were to be fully occupied years, with several important and decisive meetings of multiple committees and numerous individuals. In spite of all the many and frustrating delays, the involvement of so many individual biologists in the founding of Biological Abstracts served the extremely useful purpose of creating a large group of loyal and knowledgeable backers, truly the leaders of the biological community, who were widely distributed geographically through the major universities and other institutions of this country. Their supportive influence was long felt. The gradual shift toward institutional rather than individual support for Biological Abstracts began only a decade after its founding and was brought about not by any change in the original concept but by the urgent need for funds on a life-or-death basis to prevent the sudden liquidation of the whole enterprise, when continuing financial support for its editorial operations had been somewhat unexpectedly terminated by The Rockefeller Foundation during the Great Depression of the 1930s.


National Research Council Executive Committee Editorial Operation Rockefeller Foundation Publication Committee 
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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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