Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Guide to the Charles Bourne papers
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (129.19 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Processing Information
  • Access Restrictions
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Biographical/Historical Note
  • Scope and Content of the Collection
  • Related Collections at CHM
  • Arrangement

  • Title: Charles Bourne papers
    Identifier/Call Number: X8308.2018
    Contributing Institution: Computer History Museum
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 97.58 Linear feet, 66 record cartons, 19 periodical boxes, 2 manuscript boxes
    Date (bulk): Bulk, 1961-1999
    Date (inclusive): 1947-2016
    Abstract: The Charles Bourne papers, ranging in date from 1947 to 2016, consist of materials related to Bourne's pioneering career in the database and information retrieval industry, including his work at Stanford Research Institute (now SRI International), UC Berkeley, and Dialog Information Services. The collection contains Bourne's personal project files, which include papers, presentations, and other activities related to his professional work. The collection also holds Bourne's subject files on a range of topics, many of which supported the writing of Bourne’s books, including organizations developing search systems, people working in the field, and database suppliers. These subject files contain technical reports, instruction manuals, internal reports, clippings, articles, correspondence, meeting notes, and some images and recordings. Additionally, there is a large collection of serials, conference proceedings, and books relevant to Bourne's computer and information science interests.
    Languages: The collection is primarily in English, with a small amount of material in Japanese and Russian.
    creator: Bourne, Charles P., 1931-

    Processing Information

    Collection surveyed by Sydney Gulbronson Olson, 2017. Collection processed by Jack Doran, July, 2019.

    Access Restrictions

    The collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    The Computer History Museum (CHM) can only claim physical ownership of the collection. Users are responsible for satisfying any claims of the copyright holder. Requests for copying and permission to publish, quote, or reproduce any portion of the Computer History Museum’s collection must be obtained jointly from both the copyright holder (if applicable) and the Computer History Museum.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of Item], [Date], Charles Bourne papers, Lot X8308.2017, Box [#], Catalog [#], Computer History Museum.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Gift of Charles P. Bourne, 2017.

    Biographical/Historical Note

    Charles (Charlie) Bourne is an information scientist and engineer who is a pioneer in information retrieval services. He specialized in areas such as search and information retrieval systems, library analysis, automation and evaluation, and natural systems.
    Born in San Francisco on September 2, 1931, Bourne grew up in Los Gatos, California. After graduating from high school, Bourne enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve, where he spent several years on active duty and worked as an instructor. In August 1953, he married Elizabeth Scheidtmann and started courses at the University of California, Berkeley (UCB), in the School of Engineering. Bourne received a BS in Electrical Engineering with a specialization in Computers from UCB in 1957 and an MS in Industrial Engineering, specializing in computer technology, from Stanford University in 1963.
    From 1957 to 1966, Bourne worked as a research engineer at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) in their Computer Systems Lab. He then spent five years in private industry, working as a vice-president at Information General Corporation as well as consulting in the information industry. From 1971 to 1977, Bourne worked as a professor at the School of Librarianship and Information Studies at UCB. During this time, he was also the director of the Institute of Library Research at the university. Beginning in 1977, Bourne began working at Dialog Information Services, initially as a project manager and eventually as Vice President of the General Information Division. He worked there until 1992.
    For much of his professional career, Bourne also worked as a consultant for libraries, schools, academies, and government institutions. Clients of note include the Stanford University Libraries, UNESCO, National Academy of Science, Library of Congress, National Agricultural Library, US Patent Office, United Nations, and Central Intelligence Agency. Most of his work as a consultant involved evaluating, developing, and upgrading information systems, serving on advisory panels, and working to increase access to information through improving technical information services in developing countries.
    Bourne is the author or co-author of several books, including Methods of Information Handling (1963), which won the American Documentation Institute (ADI) Book-of-the-Year award, Technology in Support of Library Science and Information Service (1980), and A History of Online Information Services, 1963-1976 (2003), which won the Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T) Book-of-the-Year award.
    Bourne has also received a number of awards for his professional accomplishments. He was a recipient of the ADI/ASIS&T Award of Merit in 1965, was named a Pioneer of Information Science by ASIS&T in 1987, and was honored by the National Federation of Abstracting and Indexing Services for “Achievement in the field of Information Science and Distinguished Service to the Federation” in 1999.

    Scope and Content of the Collection

    The Charles Bourne papers consist of materials related to Bourne’s pioneering career in the online and database industry, including his work at Stanford Research Institute (SRI), UC Berkeley, and Dialog Information Services. Ranging in date from 1947 to 2016, the collection traces Bourne's career as well as his interest in documenting information about computer-searching systems, organizations active in the field, and people who worked in the industry.
    Roughly a third of the collection consists of Bourne's personal project files, which include papers, presentations, and other activities related to his professional work. These include records from his jobs at Berkeley, SRI, and Dialog, as well as files from his consulting work for various universities, government departments, and national organizations. There is a separate series related to these materials, Series 2, “Unpublished writings and related research material,” which consists primarily of background research documents for two planned books that never saw publication.
    The bulk of the collection is made up of Bourne's subject files on organizations and systems, people, and database suppliers. This group of records contains reports, instruction manuals, internal reports, and clippings about organizations active in developing computer-based search systems as well as stand-alone computer search systems. There are also files on organizations that were related to, but not directly engaged in, computer-based searching. Many of these materials were used as research for his book, A History of Online Information Services, 1963-1976. The papers also include subject files on people that Bourne worked with or heard about over his career. This portion of the collection contains articles and publications about or by these people, as well as correspondence, meeting notes, and some images and recordings. Also included in the subject files are records on database suppliers, which hold documentation about and by organizations that were making their computer-based databases available for computer searching.
    Additionally, the collection includes Bourne's technical library, which consists of about fifteen linear feet of publications relevant to Bourne's computer and information science interests, including serials, conference proceedings, and individual reports and books.

    Related Collections at CHM

    Bourne, Charles (Charlie) oral history, Lot X7584.2016, catalog number 102737964.


    The collection is arranged into 7 series:
    Series 1, Personal projects files, 1957-2007, bulk 1961-1980
    Series 2, Unpublished writings and related research material, 1952-1995, bulk 1961-1984
    Series 3, Biographic files, 1948-2014
    Series 4, Organization/System files, 1947-2007, bulk 1953-1992
    Series 5, Database supplier files, 1958-1999, bulk 1961-1982
    Series 6, Technical library, 1953-2004, bulk 1958-1980
    Series 7, Image system samples, undated

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Data processing systems
    DIALOG Information Services
    Information retrieval
    Information storage and retrieval systems
    Stanford Research Institute