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The Early Indexes

mru: mlo — 22 January 2000

This article was written by Anthony Lewis who compiled magazine checklists for the Strauss indexes (as well as compiling a number of the NESFA indexes). The material in this article is based upon my recollections and whatever data could be culled from issues of The Twilight Zine, Proper Boskonian, and Instant Message. This material, in a somewhat different form, was sent to both Erwin Strauss and Mike Ward a while ago to be vetted before being printed. It is probably as close to truth as anyone will ever get on this subject. Of such is history made.

The Blackdex and The Bluedex

Blackdex CoverIndexing at the M.I.T. Science Fiction Society began in the early 1960s, originally aimed at making the Society’s own growing collection more accessible to its members. The original listing of books was compiled on Hollerith cards by Marilyn Joyce Wisowaty (later Niven). Since Marilyn had been given the nickname of "Fuzzy Pink Roommate" by her roommate Fran Dyro, (the nickname soon became "Fuzzy Pink" to all other people) the work became known as the Pinkdex. It is believed that this inspired Strauss in his naming of his first index-The Blackdex and the Bluedex.

Erwin Sheehan Strauss, an M.I.T. under-graduate, glorying in the nickname of "Filthy Pierre"-decided the make use of the data processing equipment to produce a "quick and dirty" index to the major magazines still publishing at the time (we had all the copies of Gamma, so he included that also).

Data were entered on Hollerith cards and, after desultory proofreading, a hybrid output technique was used. Mimeograph stencils were taped to continuous form-feed paper and run through a line printer. This accounts for the poor quality of the mimeography.

Strauss, Erwin S. (compiler), The Blackdex and The Bluedex, February 1965, 232 pp., 8-1/2"x11", loose-leaf, 500 copies numbered, $4.00. Indexes a subset of the English-language SF magazines for the period 1951-1964. Erwin Strauss compiled this work under the auspices of the MIT Science Fiction Society. Based upon the favorable response to this admittedly limited work, which sold out in about a year, he expanded it into a complete index for the period 1951 to 1965. The magazines indexed are- Astounding/Analog Science Fact-Science Fiction, Amazing Stories, Fantastic Stories of Imagination, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Galaxy Magazine, Gamma, Worlds of If, Science Fiction, Worlds of Tomorrow. Contents: Blackdex – Works Alphabetized by Title /Bluedex – Works Alphabetized by Author. No cover. All entries are in upper case only. The title listing is printed in black ink and the author listing in blue ink. The sections are printed inverted and interleaved. Thus, if reading The Blackdex , title entries appear on the recto page with the author entries on the verso page inverted and vice versa if reading The Bluedex.

The M.I.T. Science Fiction Society’s Index a.k.a. The "Pierre" Index

Strauss Index CoverStrauss compiled this work originally under the auspices of the MIT Science Fiction Society. In return for using the Society’s library, some of its access to MIT facilities, and the ability to sell from its address, Strauss would turn over a portion of the profits to enable the MITSFS to enlarge its magazine collection. During the course of these proceedings the school administration decided that this arrangement was not entirely to its liking. Following legal action, Strauss retained possession of the books but was required to black out "The MIT Science Fiction Society’s" on all copies sold. About this time (1967) Strauss was drafted into the United States Army. Because of this and the legal costs the printer, Spaulding-Moss, repossessed most of the remaining books, although Strauss had turned over a small number to Michael J. Ward. At the end of 1967, Ward left for California and turned over to NESFA all the indexes and 1966 supplements (see below) in his possession. In January 1968 NESFA found out that the printer had decided to destroy the books to save on storage. At the 7 January 1968 meeting NESFA approved the purchase of these books. Through its negotiator Richard Harter, NESFA remaindered the books for $0.50 each. This money was raised by the sale of "bonds" (at 5%) to the membership, bringing in a total of $540. NESFA continued to sell these books until they were gone. As near as can be determined Strauss sold (or turned over to Ward) a total of 486 books; NESFA obtained from the printer a total of 1462 books. This sums to 1948, as close as we are ever likely to get to reality.

Strauss, Erwin S. (compiler), The MIT Science Fiction Society’s Index to the S-F Magazines, 1951-1965, March 1966, but bindery problems delayed availability until May 1966, iii + 207 pp., 8-1/2"x11", bound in boards, 2000 copies, $6.50 until 1 May 1966, then $8.00, raised to $12.00 March 1975; while Strauss sold this book he offered a $1.00 discount to anyone who had bought the previous edition (The Blackdex and the Bluedex ). Indexes the English-language SF magazines for the period 1951-1965. Entries are all upper case only.

Contents: How to Use the Index /Author’s Introduction /Table of Contents /Acknowledgments /Abbreviations Used in the Index /Checklist of Magazines Indexed (Anthony R. Lewis) /Listing by Magazines /Listing by Title /Listing by Author. Cover design by Erwin S. Strauss.

Library of Congress classification ZPN 3448.S45.S912.

The Index to the S-F Magazines, 1966: The 1966 Supplement

Strauss 66 Supp CoverThis work was compiled as a supplement to the 1951-1965 edition. After Strauss left for the Army he turned over his index to Michael Ward to sell. When Ward left for California at the end of 1967 he turned over the remainder of both books to NESFA to sell. This supplement was superseded by a new one, re-compiled from the original magazines, by NESFA.

Strauss, Erwin S. (compiler), The Index to the S-F Magazines 1966, July 1967, 56 pp., 8-1/2"x11", side-wire stitched, 200 copies, $1.00. Indexes the English-language SF magazines for the year 1966. Entries are all upper case only. Contents: Table of Contents /Preface /Checklist of Magazines Indexed (Anthony R. Lewis) /Listing by Magazines /Listing by Title /Listing by Author. Cover design by Erwin S. Strauss.