Oral history interview with Madeline M. Henderson

Oral history interview with Madeline M. Henderson

  • 1997-Jul-14

Madeline Henderson begins this interview with a description of her family and early years in Quincy, Massachusetts. Henderson attended Emmanuel College, receiving an A.B. 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.

Place of interview
Original file type MP3, PDF
  • 82 pages
Rights In Copyright - Non-Commercial Use Permitted
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  • Science History Institute
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Credit line
  • Courtesy of Science History Institute

Physical location


Cite as

Madeline M. Henderson, interviewed by Robert V. Williams in Mechanicsville, Maryland on July 14, 1997. Philadelphia: Science History Institute, n.d. Oral History Transcript 0162. https://digital.sciencehistory.org/works/kd17cv03c.

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Transcript (Published Version)

The published version of the transcript may diverge from the interview audio due to edits to the transcript made by staff of the Center for Oral History, often at the request of the interviewee, during the transcript review process.

Complete Interview Audio File Web-quality download

10 Separate Interview Segments Archival-quality downloads