A Report on the Literature of Time, 1900-1980
J. T. FRASER
The three sections of this Appendix are intended to serve as a map to the literature of time in the Twentieth Century.
- A Selected Bibliography of Books
This section contains over 800 citations of books, with no more than a handful articles in books. The entries were selected by the standard of whether they do, in some ways, extend the concerns of the papers included in the four volumes of The Study of Time.
Part A covers the period since the founding of the Society, that is, 1966-1980. Entries have been classified under twelve headings according to a division of time-related material that is employed in another publication, The Voices of Time*. The well-known problem of single subject classification is quite evident. Each book had to be entered under a single subject only, even if it qualified under several subjects. For this reason the classification is sometimes imperfect but, hopefully, always defensible.
Part B covers the period 1900-1965 and is arranged alphabetically by author or, in some cases, by title. To avoid unnecessary duplication, some 300 books published before 1966 and already cited in The Voices of Time have not been listed here.
The bibliography was not intended to include works simply because they manipulate the idea, or depict the experience of time, as a literary device.
- *J. T. Fraser, ed. The Voices of Time, Second edition (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1981).
Each entry was pared down to the minimum information necessary for identification. A detailed, annotated and analytic bibliography of books pertinent to the study of time, including works before 1900, may very well be a useful reference book, but it could hardly have been made a part of the introduction to The Study of Time IV.
Part A. Works of Possible Interest, 1966-1980
- Contributions Toward an Integrated Understanding of Time
- History, Law, Society, Time Allocation
- Art, Language, Literature
- Education, Juvenile Literature, Time as Subject of Fiction
- Geography, Geology, Geochronology
- Calendars, Chronologies
- Time Measurement: Clocks and Watches, Dials, Systems and Standards
- Physical Science
A computer survey was conducted to determine, or at least suggest, the number of articles published in professional periodicals, which, in the collective approach of these four volumes, would be classified as useful and relevant to the study of time. Fifteen databases of an educational information retrieval system were searched covering, more or less, the period 1965-1980 and containing almost 15 million records.
The databases searched, the subjects sought and the strategy of the search are described below. The number of entries identified is a few short of 18, 500. A sampling suggests that an entry-by-entry check would reduce this figure to, perhaps, 12,000, because of multiple listings. On the other hand, the indexers of the 15 million records must be regarded as untutored in the study of time. Many papers which, by the standards of The Study of Time volumes would be classified under time, were surely not so recognized. Again, a random, though rather extensive sampling suggests that a careful reading of the literature would more than triple this number, taking us up to about 40,000. It is a further estimate that an extension of the survey to include the first 65 years of the century would less than double the total count. We may, therefore, settle on the hypothetical figure of 65,000 as the number of periodical articles in this century potentially related to a systematic study of time
This is not necessarily the number of citations which would have to be included in an authoritative bibliography, but it is the number of papers which the editors of such a work would have to examine, accept, reject, classify, annotate and cross-index by subject, author, and source. The scope of such an enterprise may be comparable to that of a well-known reference work in the history of science, the Isis Cumulative Bibliography*. It is a four volume work of over 2500 pages. The first 1300 pages contain about 40,000 entries classified by personalities significant in the history of science. There seems to be sufficient material in the periodical literature to supply a comparable number of entries for a multidisciplinary bibliography of time. However, in view of the rapidly increasing time-related literature in many fields of intellectual and empirical discipline, it is not at all certain that a bibliography, published in a traditional form, would be practical to compile or useful to employ. Yet, a multidisciplinary work conceived and executed on a lesser scale, is likely to remain unauthentic.
Modern technology does, however, offer a way for accomplishing the task earlier envisaged for printed bibliographies. Accordingly, the feasibility of an open database, under the name TIMELINE, is now being studied.
Table I lists those sources of the DIALOG Information Retrieval System which were searched, courtesy of the Librarian and Staff of the Public Library, Westport, Connecticut.
In addition to the sources listed in Table I, the following indeces were consulted: Social Sciences and Humanities Index, 1966-1974; Social Sciences Index, 1975-1980; Humanities Index, 1975-1980; Index Medicus, 1960-1979.
In the computer search, only descriptors and identifiers were used. Descriptors are controlled terms, equivalent to subject headings. Identifiers are uncontrolled phrases, assigned by the indexers. Since neither lists of descriptors nor lists of identifiers were available, terms were selected by sampling the categories of classifications of known papers. The subjects listed in Table II are not necessarily either the identifiers or the descriptors used. They are, instead, the most general headings under which the descriptors and identifiers could be combined. Within each subject, the number of entries were weighted for duplication, as estimated through sampling. No attempt was made, however, to adjust for duplication between different subjects.
The uncertainty due to the absence of rigorous vocabularies, the many different jargons involved and the fact that the indexing was done by specialists naive in the study of time makes Table II useful for what it is intended to be: An initial inventory.
- *A bibliography formed from Isis critical bibliographies, 1913-1965. Ed. by Magda Whitrow. London: Mansell, 1971-1981.