Madeline M. Henderson

Born: September 3, 1922 | Merrimac, MA, US
Died: July 17, 2011 | Frederick, MD, US

Madeline Henderson worked with James Perry and Allen Kent compiling and researching possibilities for a standard chemical notation system for IUPAC selection. Her search for terms for semantic factoring took her throughout the country, where she met many others involved with scientific information, including Eugene Garfield, Claire Schultz, and Saul Herner. She, Perry, and Kent initiated the use of telegraphic abstracts. After working with the National Science Foundation (NSF) as a research analyst, Henderson joined the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) in 1972. She received the Watson-Davis award in 1989 for her service to the American Society for Information Science (ASIS). Henderson concludes the interview with reflections on her fellowship with the American Association for the Advancement of Science and thoughts on pioneers in the field of information science.

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Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0162
No. of pages: 82
Minutes: 308

Interview Sessions

Robert V. Williams
14 July 1997
Mechanicsville, Maryland

Abstract of Interview

Madeline Henderson begins this interview with a description of her family and early years in Quincy, Massachusetts. Henderson attended Emmanuel College, receiving an ABĀ in chemistry in 1944. After college, she worked briefly with DuPont in explosives research and as a chemist for Harrington Labs. She accepted a position at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) High Pressure Research Lab as a research associate. In 1950, she switched gears at MIT and began working with James W. Perry in scientific information. One of her first tasks was to edit the first edition of his book, Punched Cards: Their Application to Science and Industry. Henderson worked with Perry and Allen Kent compiling and researching possibilities for a standard chemical notation system for IUPAC selection. Her search for terms for semantic factoring took her throughout the country, where she met many others involved with scientific information, including Eugene Garfield, Claire Schultz, and Saul Herner. Soon after, Henderson worked for the Batelle Memorial Institute at the Aberdeen Proving Ground helping them improve their information management. While there, she, Perry, and Kent initiated the use of telegraphic abstracts. After working with the National Science Foundation (NSF) as a research analyst, Henderson joined the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) in 1972. There she served as a staff assistant in the Institute for Computer Sciences and Technology, and eventually became section chief of Computer Information. Later, she worked on the Federal Information Locator System (as a consultant for NBS). While with NBS, she joined the Federal Library Committee's Task Force on Automation, and attended American University, receiving an MPA in 1977. She received the Watson-Davis award in 1989 for her service to the American Society for Information Science (ASIS). Henderson concludes the interview with reflections on her fellowship with the American Association for the Advancement of Science and thoughts on pioneers in the field of information science.

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1944 Emmanuel College AB Chemistry
1977 American University MPA Public Administration

Professional Experience

E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co.

1944 to 1945
Analytical Chemist

C.S. Batchelder Co.

1945 to 1946
Organic Researcher

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

1946 to 1950
Research Associate, Chemical Engineering
1950 to 1952
Research Associate, Scientific and Technical Documentation

US Central Intelligence Agency

1953
Consultant

Battelle Memorial Institute

1953 to 1956
Research Engineer, Information Systems

National Science Foundation

1956 to 1958
Research Analyst, Office of Science Information Service
1958 to 1962
Consultant

National Bureau of Standards

1964 to 1969
Data Processing Applications Analyst, Center for Computer Sciences and Technology
1964 to 1969
Consultant to Director, Center for Computer Sciences and Technology
1972 to 1975
Staff Assistant for Computer Usage Information, Institute for Computer Sciences and Technology
1975 to 1978
Chief, Computer Information Section, Information Technology Division, Institute for Computer Sciences and Technology
1978 to 1979
Manager, ADP Information Analysis, Institute for Computer Sciences and Technology

US Department of Commerce

1971 to 1972
Science and Technology Fellow

Self-employed

1979 to 1991
Consultant

Honors

Year(s) Award
1977

Election to Pi Alpha Alpha

1989

Watson Davis Award, American Society for Information Science

Table of Contents

Early Years
1

Growing up in Quincy, Massachusetts. Parents. Attending Emmanuel College. Interest in chemistry. Working at DuPont and Harrington Labs.

Career Beginnings
4

Working in the High Pressure Research Lab at MIT. Beginning scientific information work with James W. Perry. Chemical notation systems. Funding. Editing Perry's punched cards book.

Information Classification
10

Compiling book of chemical abstracts, formulas, and notation schemes. Evaluating systems for IUPAC. Dyson system. Wiswesser system. Semantic factoring. Librarians vs. information specialists. Cataloguing.

Managing Information
20

Working for Battelle Memorial Institute. Aberdeen Proving Ground contract. Telegraphic abstracts. Selector equipment. Vocabulary control. Meeting Dick Henderson. Handling chemical information. Working for the National Science Foundation. Chemical Abstracts.

Politics of Information Science
35

Helen Brownson. Funding and grants. Chemical Abstracts Service. Writing abstracts. Women's position in the information world. Attending American University.

Later Career
49

Mary Elizabeth Stevens. Working for the National Bureau of Standards. Serving on the Task Force on Automation. Federal Library automation. Copyright roundtable. Consulting. Winning Watson-Davis award. Secretary of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Final Thoughts
63

Influential people in the field of information science. Comparing searching methods. Reflections on career. Standardization.

Notes
73
Index
76

About the Interviewer

Robert V. Williams

Robert V. Williams is a professor of library and information science at the University of South Carolina. He holds a PhD in library and information studies from the University of Wisconsin, Madison; an MS in library and information science from Florida State University; and an MA in history from New York University. Before joining the University of South Carolina in 1978, he was an archivist and information services manager for the Ford Foundation, and the Georgia Department of Archives and History. Williams has also been an information consultant for many organizations including Appalachian Council of Governments of Greenville, South Carolina, and Pontifical Catholic University Madre y Maestra, Dominican Republic. He came to the Chemical Heritage Foundation as the Eugene Garfield Fellow in the History of Scientific Information in 1997. He is a member of the South Carolina Historical Records Advisory Board, the American Library Association (ALA), and the American Society for Information Science (ASIS), where he served as chair of ASIS History and Foundations of Information Science Special Interest Group in 1994–1995. Williams is also a member of the Special Libraries Association (SLA) and Chair of the SLA Membership Committee. Williams has numerous publications on the historical role of information science.