The Surgeon General’s Office in the United States Army started an index of all holdings in its library in 1880. The various volumes were printed until 1961. Because the Army Medical Library became the largest medical library in the world in the late 1890s, the Index-Catalogue of the Library of the Surgeon-General’s Office, 1880-1961, can be considered an almost complete compilation of the medical literature.
The Index-Catalogue was digitized to allow easier access to the listings. It is known as IndexCatTM. However, it is not like PubMed; MESH terms are not used and the articles are listed without links to full-text articles. Researchers must LocatorPlus®, worldcat.org or to archives of medical libraries to find the volumes.
Researchers might also find that some articles were printed in several journals or monographs; the restrictions on publishing did not exist in earlier times. Librarians can aid in the research by providing keywords for the former names of diseases. For example, tuberculosis was known as consumption. Women’s gynecological issues might have called hysteria.
Index-Cat digitized even earlier medical references to its database: eTK (A Catalogue of Incipits of Mediaeval Scientific Writings in Latin by by Lynn Thorndike and Pearl Kibre) in 1997 and eVK2 (Scientific and Medical Writings in Old and Middle English: An Electronic Reference by Linda Ehrsam Voigts and Patricia Deery Kurtz) in 1985.
Index-CatTM is a free resource available. To obtain the necessary articles, work with ILL to obtain copies. Index-CatTM can be used to research the history of medicine, the trajectory of diseases, and cures available in certain periods of history.
Altamirano, I. (2015). IndexCat: A Resource for Earlier Medical and Scientific Works. Journal of Hospital Librarianship, 15(4), 386-392. doi:10.1080/15323269.2015.1079690
What is Index-CatTM? (March 2015). Retrieved June 12, 2017 from the IndexCatTM website: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/hmd/indexcat/aboutic.html
Isabel M. Altamirano, Engineering Librarian, Georgia Institute of Technology
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