The Athenaeum Scientific Material: 1828-1830
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The Project | The Database | Search Facilities
The ProjectThe database at this site covers all the book reviews, articles, and short paragraphs written for The Athenaeum weekly periodical between January 1828 and October 1830 (Issues 1 to 155) which have any connection with science, presenting a detailed picture of the topics, persons and institutions of interest to the educated British public of the time.
The material was indexed by Sue Holland under the direction of Professor Micheline Beaulieu for a project sponsored by the Wellcome Trust. It is made publicly available as a resource for scholars and researchers in the history of science. A full report on the project, including a discussion of indexing policy and an analysis of some of the issues highlighted by a detailed examination of the material, is available here in Postscript form.
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The DatabaseThe database contains details of 345 book reviews, and 1370 articles - where some "articles" are in fact short paragraphs extracted from longer pieces on miscellaneous topics. It is intended to help researchers identify potential items of interest, and locate them quickly in the closely-printed pages of the bound Athenaeum volumes.
The database contents can be summarised in the following way:
- All records contain the relevant Date, Issue-number, Page-number and, if applicable, Section of the Athenaeum. Many reviews and articles have a Heading; where several short items come under the same heading each is identified by a Paragraph-number.
- The main indication of subject-matter is given by the Title and Topic fields (for reviews and articles respectively). Topic fields may include short quotations from and summaries of the text of the article. All records are assigned one or more controlled-language Category terms, broadly based on the UDC classification scheme. Where particular Persons and / or Institutions are referred to, their names are also recorded in a separate field.
- Normal bibliographic details: Author, Editor, Translator, etc. are provided for book reviews. For articles, the published Source of its material is recorded if mentioned in the Athenaeum, and sometimes also its type or Form, e.g. whether it is a Letter, Obituary, or report of a Lecture or Demonstration which took place on a particular Date.
- Most review and articles were anonymous, but the Contributor's name or initials are noted wherever they appear. From June 1830 onwards, contributor information is also provided by the Editor's Mark, transcribed from the official marked copy of the Athenaeum currently held in City University library.
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Search FacilitiesThe database my be searched in two different ways:
- The Free-text search will attempt to match any word or phrase entered by the user with any part of the Athenaeum record. The search may be case-sensitive or not, and may cover articles, reviews, or both.
- The Single-field search allows searching on complete terms or names from the indexed fields: Category, Institution, Author, Person and Source. The user may choose to see a complete alphabetic list of terms occurring in each of these fields, and select any entry in the list to search the database.
The result of any search is a single HTML page containing matching items in full: there is no overview hitlist. The retrieved records will contain links to all Issue numbers, Category terms, Institution, Person, and Author and Source names, any of which can be selected to trigger off a further (single-field) search. It thus becomes possible to navigate through the database by following links rather than entering new queries.
It is expected that most searches will be carried out as a preliminary to consulting the Athenaeum volumes, so the records are presented in a compressed format for ease of downloading and printing. The complete database, and the individual records, are relatively small, so searches will normally produce a document of manageable size, but an output limit is set for the free-text search, where queries may occasionally match a large number of irrelevant items.
Any problems with the search facilities should be reported to: Susan Jones.
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