As my background with Serials Solutions might suggest, I’m a big fan of serials (journals, magazines, etc.) and their content. I’m an even bigger fan of indexes to those publications. If there’s no index to a publication, then the past issues are nearly useless. Researchers don’t have any easy way of finding what was mentioned in those past issues, and that’s a significant loss. The next step is making that index as accessible as possible, to as wide an audience as one can. This leads to interest in and usage of the incredibly valuable back issues and past work put into the many years of a publication’s history.
So I’m always excited about adding content from indexes to journals. One subscriber asked if we could investigate adding content from the US Naval Institute Proceedings, which was a great suggestion. I learned that an index for 1874 to 1977 was printed in the early 1980s, and through assistance from staff at the USNI, I was able to get a copy of the Proceedings. I’ve completed working through that index, and have added it to the database.
The index itself isn’t fantastic: I’m sure there are many more vessels mentioned in the Proceedings than are mentioned in the index, and working through the index to make it ready to load took many, many more hours than I could have ever imagined. Some entries say, “See this article.” without including the article page numbers. Since the individual using ShipIndex wouldn’t have access to the Proceedings Index, I had to add issue and page numbers for that particular article. But sometimes the main entry for that article was nearly impossible to find – luckily, I had an electronic version so could do keyword searches across the entire index. Without that, some of those entries would have never been found. In any case, it’s been completed, and was added to the database last week. Entries tend to have a fair bit of information about what’s mentioned in the article, so that’s a good thing. The citations, though, are a bit confusing, and leave something to be desired. There’s information about how to understand them on the resource information page.
I have lots and lots and lots more journal content to add. Right now, I’m getting close to finishing work on a very extensive index to Steamboat Bill (which recently changed its name to PowerShips), covering its inception in 1940 through 2010. What’s most cool about this index is that it includes lots and lots of citations for photos and illustrations in the magazine. This is a great connection to the many, many photos in each issue. I hope to load that file in the next week or so.
I also have many indexes to Mariners Mirror that need to be processed, and there are other titles I’d also like to add, such additional years of Sea Chest, the publication of the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society, and also American Neptune. I’ve had a tough time getting in contact with the folks from PSMHS to ensure that it’s OK to add their index to the database, and I need to get an OK on that before moving forward. I would like to point out the very smart moves of institutions that make indexes to their publications available online, particularly the Steamship Historical Society of America, for Steamboat Bill/PowerShips, and the San Diego Maritime Museum, for Mains’l Haul (whose index has been in the database for quite a while).
If there are other publications you’d like to see added, please let me know. Alas, if they have not indexed the publication themselves, then I don’t have an index to add. All the more value that one can put on creating an index to a publication — make it available; make it useful!