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United States National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health

Fact Sheet

IndexCat™ is the digitized version of the printed Index-Catalogue of the Library of the Surgeon-General's Office (Index-Catalogue), in essence the first catalog of the National Library of Medicine®. The catalog was published from 1880-1961 in 5 series in a total of 61 volumes. It reflects the collections owned and transferred to the National Library of Medicine after its creation in 1959. IndexCat is available at


Content reflects the bibliographic citations in the original publication of approximately 3.7 million references to materials dated from the 5th century to the first half of the 20th century. Publication types include:

Journal articles
(plus news articles, letters, & obituaries)
2,500,000 references
Dissertations and theses 470,000 references
(books, pamphlets, and reports)
616,000 references
Journal titles 32,000 references
Portraits 4,000 references
(Series 1-2)

Journal articles date from the late 17th century. Reports and statistics include items from local, national, and international hospitals; health departments; and government organizations. Books include handwritten and printed items.

Search Capabilities

Search IndexCat by keywords for subject, author, title, journal title, note content, and by year of publication. Any term in the citation is searchable.

Search with a single term or multiple terms: in any order; in a phrase; or with word importance. In truncated searches, mark unwanted terms from retrieval results. Search by designating any combination of IndexCat series and/or volumes. The default is a search across all volumes in the five series.

Search results display by Index-Catalogue series but users may elect to combine all results into a single list. By using a Save List of selected citations, users may print, download, or e-mail them.

Search IndexCat to:


IndexCat displays citations in their original printed publication order. For Series 1-4, the browse is in a dictionary arrangement (A-Z) with author names and book titles intermixed with the primary list of Index-Catalogue subject headings. Series 5 is a divided arrangement with subject headings in a list separate from the list of author names and book titles.

Because Index-Catalogue subject headings do not conform to MeSH®, the modern NLM Medical Subject Headings, the ability to browse the publication headings gives users knowledge of subject concepts, terms, and phrases used in medical literature in the late 19th and the early 20th centuries.

For detailed information on the structure of IndexCat browse, see:

IndexCat and LocatorPlus®

Users may search IndexCat and LocatorPlus - the NLM online public catalog - at the same time. LocatorPlus contains NLM holdings and current information for books, pamphlets, dissertations, and journal titles. Use this information to request material from the NLM. See LocatorPlus Fact Sheet for more information on LocatorPlus.

Learn more about IndexCat

For further assistance contact

History of Medicine Division
National Library of Medicine
Bethesda, Maryland 20894
Phone: (301) 496-5405
FAX: (301) 402-0872

A complete list of NLM Fact Sheets is available at:
(alphabetical list):
(subject list):

Or write to:

Office of Communications and Public Liaison
National Library of Medicine
8600 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, Maryland 20894

Phone: (301) 496-6308
FAX:(301) 496-4450

Last reviewed: 12 August 2005
Last updated: 12 August 2005
First published: 05 November 2001
Metadata| Permanence level: Permanent: Stable Content