In 1969, American Optometric Association Librarian Maria Dablemont and American Optometric Association past-president and Indiana University School of Optometry Henry Hofstetter plotted the formation of the Optometric Historical Society. In August of that year, Hofstetter sent a letter to ten persons of his “acquaintance who have been concerned very actively and obviously with optometric history as a subject of avid interest.”1 In that letter were the by-laws for the OHS that Hofstetter and Dablemont had drafted and a request to indicate willingness to serve on the Executive Board to help organize the society. The initial OHS Executive Board consisted of Hofstetter (president), John Levene (vice-president), Dablemont (secretary-treasurer), Arthur Hoare, and Sol Tannebaum. In October, 1969, a press release was sent to various optometric periodicals inviting membership in OHS by remitting a dues payment of $5. By January 1, 1970, there were 33 founding members who had paid their dues.
Among the purposes of OHS outlined in its initial by-laws were “to encourage the collection and preservation of materials relating to the history of optometry” and “to assist in securing and documenting the recollections of those who have participated in the development of optometry.”2 The quarterly publication of the OHS has been attempting to support those purposes ever since the first issue of the Newsletter of the Optometric Historical Society was mailed to members in January, 1970.
The name of the OHS quarterly publication was changed to Hindsight: Newsletter of the Optometric Historical Society starting with volume 23 in 1992 and to Hindsight: Journal of Optometry History starting with volume 38 in 2007. In 2013, back issues of the OHS publications were made available on the Indiana University digital repository IUScholarWorks. Starting with this issue, current issues of Hindsight will be among the journals found on IUScholarWorks.
Through 2015 (46 volumes), Hindsight and its predecessor newsletter accumulated 2,994 pages, not counting indexes. This represents a significant compendium of optometry history. In 1996, Hofstetter noted that Hindsight had helped to “document optometry’s centuries-long existence and emergence from a prestigious and sophisticated handicraft to its present academic stature, a truly proud history which includes many prominent and accomplished personalities.”3 Indexes to the Newsletter and Hindsight were published in 1980, 1990, 2000, and 2010, for volumes 1-10, 11-20, 21-30, and 31-40, respectively. Those four indexes take up 177 pages.
The editor for most of the first 25 years of the publication from 1970 to 1995 was Henry Hofstetter, and he wrote most of the content over that period of time. Taking over for Hofstter for brief intervals from 1970 to 1995 while he was on sabbatical or had other obligations were John Levene and Douglas Penisten. David Goss has been editor since 1995. Contributing editors have included Jay Enoch, Irving Bennett, and Kirsten Hébert.
Hindsight is held at libraries and museums in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, including several optometry school libraries and the National Library of Medicine. Many of the articles from the past ten years have been indexed in PubMed.
1. Hofstetter HW. How and when we began. Newsletter Optom Hist Soc 1977;8:55-57.
2. By-laws of the Optometric Historical Society. Newsletter Optom Hist Soc 1970;1:2-5.
3. Hofstetter HW. The OHS mission. Hindsight 1996;27:17-18.