What is IndexCat and why search it?

Provided by the National Library of Medicine, IndexCat is PubMed's predecessor - use it to search for articles in medicine and biology published before 1950. IndexCat is a digitized version of the printed Index-Catalogue of the Library of the U. S. Surgeon General's Office.


The Index-Catalogue of the Library of the Surgeon-General’s Office (Index-Catalogue)* is a multi-part printed bibliography or list of items in the Library of the Surgeon-General’s Office, U.S. Army. It contains material dated from the 1400s through 1950 and is an important resource for researchers in the history of medicine, history of science, and for clinical research.

The Index-Catalogue was published in five (5) series in sixty-one (61) volumes from 1880-1961. Since it is a list of holdings for a specific library, it does not claim to be an index of all material published in medicine. By 1895, however, the Surgeon-General’s Library was the world’s largest medical library. Therefore, its catalog became a major source for accessing medical literature.

The scope of Index-Catalogue extends beyond medicine and includes, for example, the basic sciences, scientific research, military medicine, public health, and hospital administration. Language coverage is international with citations in European and Slavic languages, Greek script, and Romanized Chinese and Japanese titles - some with English translations. The catalogue covers a wide assortment of materials including: books, journal articles, dissertations, pamphlets, reports, newspaper clippings, case studies, obituary notices, letters, portraits, as well as rare books and manuscripts.

IndexCat contains over 4.5 million online references to over 3.7 million bibliographic items.* 2.5 million items are primarily journal articles; 250,000 items are monographs (books, pamphlets, and reports); approximately 300,000 items are dissertations (theses); and 16,000 are journal titles. Series 1 and Series 2 include portraits as separate citations but Series 3, 4, and 5 indicate portraits in descriptive notes for monographs and dissertations.


As in the printed series, Series 4 of IndexCat is incomplete. It includes citations printed only in the first half of the alphabet from A-Mn. The last half was never published. Therefore, if the first word of a name, title, or subject heading with its related journal articles file after Mn, they are not available. Series 5 excludes journal articles; the primary coverage is monographs, dissertations, and pamphlets with 1950 imprints or earlier. NLM will not add new bibliographic citations to IndexCat since its purpose is to reflect the bibliographic coverage of the printed Index-Catalogue.

Link to Resource: IndexCat

Free access provided by the U. S. National Library of Medicine.

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