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The Wheatley Medal 2009

Award for Indexing Excellence
2009 Wheatley Medal

At the annual dinner on Saturday 12 September during the Society of Indexers conference at York University, SI  President Professor John Sutherland presented the Wheatley Medal for an outstanding index to Rudy Hirschmann, representing the members of the Einstein Papers Project, for the indexes in volume 11 of The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein (edited by A J. Kox et al., Princeton University Press, 2009).

The Wheatley panel this year had the pleasure of judging a selection of books which covered a wide range of topics, and the winning books reflect this breadth of subjects. All three were exceptionally good, with the competition between the highly commended index and the winner of the Wheatley Medal being extremely close. They are both works of exceptional scholarship, dealing with complex topics and large corpuses of knowledge.

The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein is published as 11 volumes, and the indexes are extremely comprehensive for such a massive work, exhibiting a high quality of indexing. ‘For a team indexing project, the consistency of the indexing is excellent’, said the chair of the judges, Jill Halliday. ‘The volumes are multidisciplinary, calling on a wide knowledge of subject matter, all of which was handled with considerable skill. The editorial team is to be congratulated on producing outstanding indexes to such a complex work.’

Barbara Hird was highly commended for her index to, The Cambridge History of the Byzantine Empire c.500—1942 (edited by Jonathan Shepard, Cambridge University Press, 2009), The judges considered this index to be a work of real labour to an extensive text. ‘For a complex period of history, the level of detail in the index is outstanding,’ said Jill Halliday, ‘and the organization of information is excellent.’

Jan Ross was commended for her index to Principles and Practice of Pediatric Infectious Disease (edited by Sarah Long et al., W. B. Saunders, 2009). The judges found this index to be full, thorough and comprehensive. ‘It is a substantial index,’ said Jill Halliday, ‘and, for the large size of the text, it’s easy to use.’

Biographical information on the winners

The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein is one of the most ambitious publishing ventures in the documentation of the history of science. Selected from among more than 40,000 documents contained in the personal collection of Albert Einstein (1879–1955), and an additional 30,000 Einstein and Einstein-related documents discovered by the editors since the 1980s, The Collected Papers provides the first complete picture of a massive written legacy that ranges from Einstein’s first work on the special and general theories of relativity and the origins of quantum theory to expressions of his profound concern with civil liberties, international reconciliation and scientific collaboration, education, pacifism, and disarmament.

The Cumulative Index published in volume 11 of the series was compiled by the entire editorial team, located at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, CA. Its lead authors were: Dr A. J. Kox (editor and professor of history of science at the University of Amsterdam); Dr Rudy Hirschmann (IT Manager, software engineer and literary historian), Dr Tilman Sauer (editor, historian of science, and lecturer at Caltech and the University of Bern), and Dr Diana K. Buchwald (general editor and professor of history at Caltech). 

Barbara Hird has been a Registered Indexer, and subsequently a fellow of the Society of Indexers since 1987, and specializes in the ancient world, late antiquity and the middle ages. She has a degree in Classics and held a graduate fellowship at the University of Athens, where she developed her interest in the Byzantine period. After a few years as a civil servant and then at home with small children, she trained as an indexer, and filled the house with piles of proofs and un-ironed laundry. She is a past Vice-President of the Society of Indexers and has chaired its Training and Qualifications Board. She was previously awarded the Wheatley Medal in 1999 and 2008.

Jan Ross has been indexing medical titles for longer than she cares to remember! She holds several science degrees, including an MSc in Immunology, and started her working life by providing tissue typing services to Christiaan Barnard for the early heart transplants, before going on to lecture at Cape Town university. She is the Managing Director of Merrall-Ross International Ltd, one of the few companies in the UK providing professional indexing and information retrieval services. Jan not only provides a medical indexing service, but also ontology development, thesaurus development and web indexing services, and has been involved in a Network of Excellence on Semantic Mining for the EU. She has previous won the Wheatley Medal twice and has been a runner-up on several other occasions, in addition to being part of the company team which won the Wheatley in 2002/3.

Last updated: 23 October 2009 | Maintained by Webmaster | Page ID: 245
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