History repeated itself at the Society of Indexers conference at Durham University on Saturday 8 July. For the second year running, Professor John Sutherland, Honorary President of the Society, presented the Wheatley Medal for an outstanding index to Hazel Bell. This year it was her index to Warwick Gould and Deirdre Toomey (eds), Mythologies by W. B. Yeats (published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2005) that received the accolade.
The panel was very pleased with the number and variety of indexes submitted; these included indexes in the archaeological, historical, medical and literary fields, plus one law book. Most were competent, and some very competent indeed, but the judges felt that Hazel Bell’s index deals with a very difficult book extremely successfully, integrating subjects, places and people into a single, easy-to-use sequence, with succinct but informative headings. Overall, it is a presentation of high quality.
Brenda Hall’s comprehensive and well-presented index to E. Hall and F. Macintosh, Greek tragedy and the British theatre 1660–1914 (published by OUP in 2005) was highly commended by the judges. They were particularly impressed by the way in which the index deals with mythical figures by making a clear separation between entries about the beings themselves and the plays named after them or about them. Again, this was another excellent and well-presented index. The commendation was something of a family celebration, one of the book’s authors being Brenda’s daughter Edith Hall, Professor of Greek Cultural History at Durham University.
Finally, Paul C. Nash was commended for his index to C. Housecraft and E. Constable, Chemistry, 3rd edn (Pearson Education, 2005). The index is comprehensive, well organized, and well-targeted to its main readership of first-year university students. A particularly useful feature is that worked examples are highlighted in the index. Overall, this is a very competent index, well focused on its intended readership.
Fourteen indexes were entered for the Wheatley Medal this year. Judging took place on 7 June 2006, at the Society of Indexers offices at Woodbourn Business Centre, Sheffield. The panel (comprising indexers, academics and librarians/representatives of CILIP) was very pleased with the number and variety of indexes submitted; these included indexes in the archaeological, historical, medical and literary fields, plus one law book. There were several stand-alone indexes to journals and historical documents which were interesting, but difficult to judge, as the panel did not have access to the indexed texts. We felt that most of the indexes submitted were competent, and some very competent indeed.
Hazel Bell for the index to Mythologies by W. B. Yeats, edited by Warwick Gould and Dierdre Toomey, published by Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.
Mythologies is a recent edition of W.B.Yeats’s folklore and early prose fiction, edited according to Yeats’s final instructions, and including extensive annotation – a very difficult text to index. Hazel Bell’s index deals with it extremely successfully, integrating subjects, places and people into a single, easy-to-use sequence. There is a very full introductory note, which is perhaps a little over complex in parts, but which explains in full the conventions used in the index. Headings are succinct but informative, the notes are well indexed, and the presentation is of high quality. There are strings of page numbers in places, some of which could perhaps have been broken down into sub-headings, but these do not detract from the overall quality of this excellent index.
Brenda Hall for the index to Greek tragedy and the British theatre 1660–1914, by Edith Hall and Fiona Macintosh, published by Oxford University Press, 2005
This book is a study into the history of the influence of ancient Greek tragedy on British theatre. The index is comprehensive and well-presented. The panel was particularly impressed by the way in which the index deals with mythical figures by making a clear separation between entries about the beings themselves and the plays named after them or about them. The index includes a large number of titles of plays; the handling of these is slightly unusual in that they are indexed under their leading articles, i.e. ‘A’ and ‘The’. The panel felt that it would be helpful to have this feature explained in the introductory note, as it is not standard indexing practice. The book is heavily illustrated, and although captions are indexed, it was noted that the contents of some illustrations are not – though we realise that the indexer probably didn’t have access to the illustrations at the time she wrote the index. Overall, this is an excellent and well-presented index.
Paul C. Nash for the index to Chemistry, 3rd edn, by Catherine Housecroft and Edwin Constable, published by Pearson Education, 2005
This book is an introductory text to organic, inorganic and physical chemistry. The index is comprehensive, well-organised, and well-targeted to its main readership of first-year University students. A particularly useful feature is that worked examples are highlighted in the index. The panel felt that the introductory note was too brief, and that it could have usefully been expanded to include explanations of the method of alphabetizing Greek characters and prefixes. The index has unfortunately been let down by its appearance, which is rather bland; once again the panel appreciates that this is not the indexer’s fault, as index design is the publisher’s responsibility. Overall, this is a very competent index, well-focused on its intended readership.
Wheatley Panel Chair 2006
18 June 2006