C&EN Archives

Three years ago, I decided to write an editorial on a controversy that was swirling around plans to celebrate the centennial of Rachel Carson’s birth (C&EN, June 4, 2007, page 5). I knew from C&EN lore that the magazine had published a highly critical review of Carson’s seminal book “Silent Spring” entitled “Silence, Miss Carson.” I wanted to read the review and see whether there had been any reaction to it from readers.

My only recourse was to go to the bound copies of C&EN stored in our conference room, which was where they had been moved from the ACS library when that facility had been dramatically shrunk a few years earlier. “Silent Spring” had been published in 1962, so I pulled the two bound volumes of C&EN for that year from the shelves and started leafing through them, perusing the tables of contents for a review of “Silent Spring.”

I eventually found the review—it was strikingly negative and shortsighted—and several issues later a number of letters from readers commenting on the review. I found it interesting that readers’ comments ranged from approving to quite critical. By 1962, many members of ACS were as concerned as Carson about the overuse of pesticides and other chemicals in the environment.

In the same issue that contained the review of “Silent Spring” was a story by a C&EN reporter on a scientific meeting where various chemists presented their ideas about the nature of the genetic code. James D. Watson and Francis Crick had deciphered the structure of DNA in 1953, but in 1962 biochemists were still trying to figure out how the arrangement of nucleotides specified the structure of proteins. As I wrote in the 2007 editorial, when Carson wrote “Silent Spring,” the “mechanisms of carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, and teratogenicity had barely begun to be understood.”

I bring up this episode because, if all goes as planned, as of today I would not have had to resort to such a laborious (though pleasurable) effort to find “Silence, Miss Carson.” Today marks the launch of C&EN Archives, a brand-new product from ACS that is available for purchase or subscription by libraries. C&EN Archives is the digital collection of all content that has been published in C&EN since the magazine was launched in 1923 as the News Edition of the ACS journal Industrial & Engineering Chemistry.

When the ACS Publications Division decided to create a digital archive of all ACS journals in 2001, ACS Executive Director Madeleine Jacobs, then C&EN’s editor-in-chief, and I, along with then-Publications Division President Bob Bovenschulte, decided not to include C&EN as part of the collection. Since the journal archive launched, we have heard from librarians, historians of science, and others that a digital archive of C&EN would be a boon to people trying to understand how the chemistry enterprise evolved over the 20th and 21st centuries.

C&EN Archives consists of more than 500,000 pages of material, every issue of C&EN from cover to cover for more than 85 years. C&EN Archives exists on the same award-winning platform as the digital editions of ACS journals and books. In searches, C&EN articles will appear in the default search results along with journal and book content. Or you have the ability to filter searches to view only content from C&EN. You can also scan tables of contents from any issue of C&EN you choose and link directly to articles of interest. If your institution does not subscribe to or own C&EN Archives, you can obtain any article that you are interested in for $10.

C&EN Archives provides access to high-resolution PDF images of the original material in the magazine—every page of every article, editorial, letter to the editor, feature, and advertisement. With the creation of C&EN Archives, essentially all content of the ACS Publications Division is now available digitally. And access to C&EN Archives is free for most academic institutions through the remainder of 2010.

Thanks for reading.

Author: Rudy Baum

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4 Comments

  1. Wait, you need to be an ACS member to read a 48 year old book review?!?!?!?! Are you joking???
    Yet again, like a broken record, the ACS continues to trumpet it’s staggeringly misguided and out-of-touch policies.

    I can only hope that the online focus group gives you folks a serious, and honest, appraisal from the trenches.

  2. @Rudy’s little helper: Thanks and we’ve updated the post.

    @Eka-silicon: Not that it will make you any happier, but at this point, you have to be an academic institutional subscriber to have access to C&EN Archives. Individual articles are available for the low, low price of $10. We will be assessing a model for making C&EN Archives available to ACS members in 2011.

  3. A blast from the C&EN archives that seems à propos after the above comments:
    ACS opposes “fair use” clause in copyright bill
    Chemical & Engineering News, 1967, 45(22), pp 60-61
    http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/cen-v045n022.p060