Mini Research Blog

January 31, 2019:
Made it to A35 today and researched the history of four journals.

November 30, 2018:
Made it to A27 today! Fixed a couple of other entries. No luck obtaining any circulation data for Oregon Historical Quarterly, the librarian said there was no data.

November 2, 2018:
Researched Oregon Historical Quarterly today (see entry A21). Emailed the librarian to ask if any distribution records for the journal exist. Learned that periodicals were included in the 1933 (and earlier) book entries of copyright registration records.

Also, regarding my research on the University of Deseret, I found additional evidence about the political theory and governing aspirations and added those to my scholarly sketch. Even though none of the journals I submitted to accepted my thesis, at least I can feel like I wasn’t crazy in developing it. I’ve also decided it’s probably best for me to move on and not continue to pursue publication. In most people’s minds, librarians don’t fit their idea of a researcher or scholar. Of course I disagree, but battling the prestige bias is getting to be annoying. And I don’t see the scholarly community accepting my professional status as a librarian (read lacks a PhD) anytime soon. It’s all good.

November 1, 2018:
Removed the Fred Pack entry originally labeled A8, renumbered the remaining, and added a new entry for A20. Also updated my raw data and my intermediary file. Researched the Journal of Chemical Education and the American Chemical Society in order to complete A20.

September 18, 2018:
My paper describing what led up to this research got published today. Check it out! https://journals.library.ualberta.ca/eblip/index.php/EBLIP/article/view/29468/21919

August 17, 2018:
I fixed the numbering error going on with the category listing! A big thanks to fellow digital descriptive bibliographer William Peterson. He also uses WordPress for his descriptive bibliography of the works of George Mackay Brown. Bill also helped me figure out the drop down menu feature, which seems more user-friendly to me.

I also made a couple of changes to the scholarly sketch–added page number references to the proclamation and the Kendall White article. I also refocused the wording to be more on governing ambitions rather than descriptive terms like liberal theocracy. Hoping this will simply highlight the governing goals influenced the university.

August 2, 2018:
Several people have reached out since my interview with Rick Anderson was posted on the Scholarly Kitchen. Thanks for getting in touch! And thanks for the interview, Rick! Having the information on Scholarly Kitchen has helped put me touch with other researchers. I’m interested in broadening my intellectual community to include not only librarians, but also bibliographers, Mormon historians, and education historians. I figure this might be a good way to get even more feedback on the University of Deseret as well as the bibliographic research method. Have a wide research community will mean lots of conferences, but I hope to stagger them. 2016 was SHARP, 2019 is MHA, and looks like there’s an interesting education history conference in St. Louis in September.

June 21, 2018:
I posted a scholarly sketch of the University of Deseret as a way to make the historical information publicly accessible. See “Did the U of U Originate as a Research University?”

April 24, 2018:
I’ve spent some time the last few weeks thinking about what to do next with my manuscript since I received yet another rejection last month. The paper details the University of Utah’s foundational history in order to contextualize its scholarly communication practices. The journal editors I’ve worked with have said they struggled with exactly how to define and describe the University of Deseret especially as it relates to what type of school it was: religious, secular, or research. My aha moment today was recognizing that the original University of Utah might not fit into any of these categories.

March 27, 2018:
After reading A History of the Book in AmericaI’m spending some time checking the archives for papers of individual U of U faculty authors in order to get a better sense of the social practice of scholarly authorship. No archival collections for Evan Stephens, Henry Montgomery or George Coray, but there is a manuscript collection for Fred Pack. After looking through his papers, I learned that the research done for his 1906 article in the Journal of Geology–which has a bibliographical entry (currently A8)–was for his master’s degree. He graduated from Columbia Univ in 1906 and was hired by Brigham Young College in Logan, UT that same year. He started working at the U of U in September of 1907 so the original entry for that journal article will need to be removed. And there were no subsequent publications from Pack for me to use in its place. Pack did spend quite a bit of time researching, both on his own and on field trips with students and local mining companies, but did not communicate the results of his investigations. Even though I hate having to remove entries, reading his archival collection helped provide perspective on the social practice of scholarly authorship at the U of U. Next up in getting a sense of the social practice of scholarly authorship will be the records of The Aztec Club.

March 9, 2018:
Made it to post 20 today! I did some original research on the Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine for A18. The research revealed another example of the American trend of academics partnering with commercial publishers for printing and distributing.

February 9, 2018:
The more I study scholarly works, the less I understand what they are! As Jim Green from the Library Company of Philadelphia pointed out to me when I asked what the first scholarly book in America was based on publisher’s evidence of peer-review: it’s a definitional problem. I think he’s right. A scholarly work is defined by more than simply peer-review. It’s also about the nature of what’s communicated. I like to think of it as a work that communicates the findings of an original investigation about the natural or human world. I pitched this idea back to Jim and we’ll see. I’m still mulling it over myself.

January 8, 2018:
With the right plug-in installed to order my entries by human numeric order (as opposed to computer numeric order), I’m back to adding entries! I completed five entries today and learned how the American Chemical Society got started in New York. Some felt it duplicated the Chemistry Section of the newly revamped New York Academy of Science as well as the Chemistry Section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. But despite the potential duplication, the group formed. Their proceedings and journals are hosted by HathiTrust. See entry A12 for a few details.

November 1, 2017:
I had to remove the initial A1 entry today because through some investigation I found out that James E. Talmage was not employed by the U of Utah when he wrote his 1889 paper on the Great Salt Lake. According to his lab notebooks housed in BYU’s Special Collections, he worked for Salt Lake Stake Academy in 1889. This school later turned in to Latter-day Saints’ College, which I believe is now LDS Business College. His lab notebooks did not indicate which lab he used (there was a research building at the U of U in 1889) to measure, boil, and weigh the water he extracted from Garfield Beach.

Finished entries A7 and A8. For A8, I emailed the University of Chicago Special Collections Research Center asking for more information about how the University of Chicago Press sold journal subscriptions in the early 20th century.

October 11, 2017:
Some quick Utah research findings:
The State of Utah established the Utah Engineering Experiment Station at the Univ of Utah in 1909 and appropriated $15,000 for purchasing and maintaining equipment. Its mandate:

“Said station is hereby authorized to carry on experiments and investigations pertaining to any and all questions and problems that admit of experimental and scientific methods of study and the solution of which would tend to benefit the industrial interests of the state or would be for the public good; also to publish bulletins [… to inform] the public concerning the results of experiments.”

This means public scholarship was encouraged at the U of U by the state. I read the first two bulletins (available in HathiTrust). They describe research conducted by professors and students; there is no indication that peers reviewed the results before publication.

September 28, 2017:
National research timeline to help determine when scholarly journals, monographs, and peer review emerged in the U.S.

First school/college–Harvard College (1636)
First printed book–Bay Psalm Book (1640)
First press at a college/university–Harvard’s Cambridge Press (1640-1692) and Cornell Univ Press (1869)
First degree–the AB degree from Harvard, nine graduates of a 3-year course in the liberal arts (1642)
First scholarly society–American Philosophical Society (1743)
First journal by scholars for scholars–The American Magazine (1769)
First legislation to promote research and creativity–US constitution, Section 8 (1787)
First book of poetry–Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral by Phillis Wheatley (1787)
First novel–The Power of Sympathy by William Hill Brown (1789)
First scholarly monograph–?
First federal government effort to fund research–Smithsonian (1846), National Academy of Sciences (1863)
First employment expectation to conduct research and advance knowledge–Johns Hopkins Univ (1879)
First student expectation to advance knowledge–Yale Univ, three dissertations in literature, philosophy, and physics (1861)
First federal government effort to promote application of research to military, agriculture, engineering–National Research Council (1916)
First federal effort to fund art–National Endowment for the Arts (1965)
First federal effort to fund humanities–National Endowment for the Humanities (1965)

July 21, 2017:
Suha Gursey in The History of Physics at Yale, 1701-1970 says that the first works written by Yale tutors included a manuscript for teaching, a catalog of books in the library, and astronomy almanacs (pg  6 and 10). The first scientific paper written by a Yale professor was submitted to the American Philosophical Society in 1807 (pg 27), which, according to the American Periodical Index, would have been included in The American Magazine as the publishing venue for the society’s transactions.

June 30, 2017:
Tidbit on business model for Physical Review in 1893: Macmillan suggested that work be undertaken at the cost of Cornell University. Cornell’s executive committee at the time provided $500 to the professors who started the journal. A commission was charged on subscriptions taken by an agent as well as copies of the periodicals that sold. The publisher invoiced the editors for work done, such as paper cutting, and other publication expenses.

June 28, 2017:
Researched three journals today and completed three entries! Journals included The American University, Physical Review, and Scottish Geographical Magazine. See entries A4, A5, A6 for details.

June 27, 2017:
After receiving the email response from SHARP-L, I checked out from my library Derek de Solla Price’s “Little Science, Big Science…and Beyond” (1986). He described a scholarly publication not as “a piece of informtion [sic] but an expression of the state of a scholar or group of scholars at a particular time” (pg. 160). To me, the work in crafting an institutional bibliography uncovers the expressions of scholars at a particular time. The methodology represents a manageable approach to telling the story of individual scholarly expression while also contextualizing those expressions within an institution. Price recognized the anomaly of Utah’s high number of authors, but was unable to provide an explanation other than an existence of “basic science installations” (p. 185). I suppose he meant research universities like Utah State University and the University of Utah. I would like to imagine that an institutional bibliography could have provided primary source evidence to sociologists or historians of science, as Price was.

June 8, 2017:
Queried SHARP-L to ask if others had studied the distribution of journal articles for purposes of descriptive bibliography. I received a response from a recent U of U history graduate and from someone without affiliation who mentioned Lotka’s law of distribution as defined by Derek de Solla Price and suggested posting to the SIGMETRICS list.

May 26, 2017:
To inform the question from May 12, I did some reading this week: Neal Edgar’s A History and Bibliography of American Magazines, 1810-1820, UMI’s American Periodicals 1741-1900: An Index to the Microfilm Collections, and The American Magazine: Research Perspectives and Prospects edited by David Abrahamson. Edgar and the APS index indicated that the first scholarly journal in America was The American Magazine, started in 1769 in Philadelphia, printed by W. and T. Bradford. It published the Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, scientific articles, some fiction, and articles on politics and religion. A previous American Magazine had started in 1741 as the first magazine in the country, but it focused on the governments of Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and Maryland as British colonies. Close to follow as the next scholarly journal was the American Academy of Arts & Sciences Boston (1785), American Journal of Science (1818), American Mechanics Magazine (1825), American Journal of Pharmacy (1825), American Journal of Education (1855), American Journal of Philology (1880). American Academy of Arts & Science, Boston also had a proceedings which Harvard faculty in chemistry, physical science, botany, and medicine used to communicate their scholarship starting in 1846. Edgar’s research found that magazines by and for scholars have always been a luxury item, they were not produced as a public service, but rather to make money, advertise books, and diversify output for printers.

May 12, 2017:
So far, I’ve researched the origins of two magazines: Science and The Archaeologist. The second one was started for collectors with contributions from anthropologists. Publishers of Science were not explicit in their audience. I came across a publisher (Landon Publishing and Printing Co.) that started journals where the audience was meant to be scholars, but the publisher went out of business in June 1899. What was the first journal in America started by and for scholars, professors, students, academics?

May 8, 2017:
1. Discovering the distribution of a single journal article is difficult! I had to do some web searching on the journal itself (in this case Science) to determine if anyone else had studied or tracked the historical distribution of the journal. Luckily, AAAS had some data (see entry A1).
2. I didn’t know that Science, the magazine, was edited by librarians from 1884-1891.
3. Internet Archive has scanned copyright entries as far back as 1891!
4. District courts managed copyright registrations before 1870. Who knew!