Herbert Ohlman papers
Scope and Content Note
The collection contains the professional papers of Herbert Ohlman. Materials include publications, talks, correspondence, technical papers and audiovisual materials documenting his career in the computer and communications fields, as well as his development of permuterm indexing.
The bulk of the collection consists of Herbert Ohlman's writings during his tenure with SDC and the World Health Organization. A large section is dedicated to his writings on the permuterm index.
The collection also consists of technical papers, pamphlets and indexes authored by others. Many of the technical papers are from companies where Ohlman worked, such as IBM and Itek. A small collection of slides on various presentations given by Ohlman are also included.
- Ohlman, Herbert Marvin (Person)
Language of Materials
Access to materials:
Access to the collection is unrestricted.
The Charles Babbage Institute holds the copyright to all materials in the collection, except for items covered by a prior copyright (such as published materials). Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provisions of the copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code).
Herbert Marvin Ohlman was born on 6 March 1927 in New York City. He graduated from the Bronx High School of Science in 1944. After spending two years in the U.S. Army, he enrolled at Syracuse University, earning a B.S. in physics in 1950. After a year of graduate work at the University of Minnesota in physics, Ohlman held various positions at the National Bureau of Standards, Engineering and Research Corporation, American Institute of Electrical Engineers, Carrier Corporation and Battelle Memorial Institute.
In 1957 Ohlman began working at Rand Corporation in the System Development Division. During his tenure at Rand, he developed a system of mechanical indexing, giving a public presentation of his Permuterm Indexing at the 1958 International Conference on Scientific Information (ICSI). At this same conference, H.P. Luhn and colleagues from IBM presented on their indexing system which focused on "titles indexed by Key Words-in-Context system," better known as KWIC. The methods Ohlman and Luhn used to create their indexes were slightly different but the output of the systems were almost identical.
After Ohlman left Rand in 1958, he worked at System Development Corporation (1959-1960), Lockheed (1960-1961), IBM (1961-1962), McGraw-Hill (1962) Itek Corporation (1963-1964), and Xerox (1964-1967) with graduate work at UCLA in Mathematics (1959) and Rutgers in Library Science (1961).
Ohlman earned his M.S. in Applied Mathematics and Computer Science from Washington University (St. Louis, MO) in 1971. He then moved to Geneva, Switzerland to work as an consultant in communications and microcomputing for the World Health Organization, returning to the United States in the mid-late 1990s. Herbert Ohlman died on 27 May 2002 in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina following complications from open-heart surgery.
3 boxes (1.6 cubic feet)
Collection contains the professional papers of Herbert Ohlman. Materials include publications, talks, correspondence, technical papers and audiovisual materials documenting his career in the computer and communications fields, as well as his development of permuterm indexing.
Arrangement of Collection
The collection is arranged into the following series:
- Biographical and Employment History, circa 1960-2002
- Correspondence and Notes, 1955-1999
- Talks, Writings and Research, 1955-1999
- Professional Associations, 1958, 1966-1998
- Technical Papers, Indexes and Pamphlets, 1955-1998
The collection was donated by Herbert Ohlman's son Mike Ohlman, via Bob Williams, in 2003.
- American Society for Information Science.
- Documentation. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Indexing. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- System Development Corporation
- World Health Organization
- Herbert Ohlman Papers, 1955-2002. Finding Aid.
- Prepared by Karen Spilman, December 2006.
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
Collecting Area Details
Contact The Charles Babbage Institute Archives Collecting Area
Elmer L. Andersen Library
222 - 21st Avenue South
Minneapolis MN 55455