AIP History Center Newsletter
Volume XXVIII, No. 1, Spring 1996


The International Catalog of Sources for History of Physics and Allied Sciences

The International Catalog of Sources for History of Physics and Allied Sciences (ICOS) is a catalog of information on the locations and contents of collections of archival materials, such as unpublished correspondence and institutional records, around the world.

The AIP Center for History of Physics seeks out information about papers of scientists working in physics and related fields, such as astronomy, acoustics, optics, geophysics, medical physics and the other fields covered by the AIP Member Societies. We also seek information on records of major institutions such as academies of science, academic physics departments, and research laboratories. Our period of interest is chiefly from about 1890 to the present, but when we learn of 19th century collections of interest, and even earlier ones of major importance, we include them as well. In addition to collections that are in libraries and archives, the ICOS has information on papers in private hands (especially if they are available for research use), and information on papers of significant scientists that have been destroyed. The information we like to include on collections is: the kinds of materials (correspondence, notebooks, travel reports, minutes of meetings, etc.), scientific and nonscientific topics covered, names of correspondents, etc. Copies of finding aids to individual collections are welcome as supplementary aids for scholars; at the moment the AIP Center has more than 700 of these finding aids.

The AIP Center is well-known for this International Catalog and many historians of physics and other scholars touch base with us and the ICOS when planning new research projects. As reported in this Newsletter [Vol. 27, no. 1 (spring 1995)], the Center has an ongoing project to gather and provide computer-readable, indexed information on holdings in both American and foreign libraries and other institu- tions, and to share the data with the major online catalog in the United States, the Research Libraries Group-Research Libraries Information Network-Archives and Manuscripts Collections (RLG-RLIN-AMC).

How to Use the ICOS: The Niels Bohr Library staff will search the in-house ICOS database for any researcher on request: just send us a letter, fax, or e-mail. Also, by mid 1996 the majority of the existing ICOS records will have been uploaded into the AMC file of RLIN's bibliographic database (regular uploads of new information will continue after this date). All ICOS records are thoroughly indexed (names and subjects); topical index terms are assigned as specifically as possible to enable focussed searching. RLIN also carries an outstanding bibliography in the history of science and technology (see article). Access to RLIN is available in many university and research libraries. Individual researchers without such institutional access can also get access to RLIN by setting up a deposit account with the Research Libraries Group. Contact the RLG at 1-800-537-7546 or by e-mail at for further information on this option.

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AIP History Center Center for History of Physics
Phone: 301-209-3165
American Institute of Physics 2003 American Institute of Physics, One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740-3843. Email: Phone: 301-209-3100; Fax: 301-209-0843