Elements in the Population

The tweet inspiration for this post comes from @marccold :

The phrase ‘Elements in the population’ appears throughout LC. Geographic regions tend to be discussed according to their history, broken down by period, then local history and description which will usually include enthography and there you’ll bump into today’s topic: Elements in the population.

What does that mean? Well it’s a tidy way of saying, “the people who aren’t the reggos.”

There are the Hungariansand then there’s the DB919.2.A-Z if you know what I mean

I’m sure that the intent behind these ‘elements’ demarcations is the usual “if the resource doesn’t take pains to indicate the people its excluding, then treat it as though it’s talking about everybody.” This is the standard line which enforces white supremacy (and the male-as-default, heteronomativity, etc.) Even if your book ‘happens’ to be only about white americans, as long as it doesn’t say in text that it’s excluding all POC from it’s scope, class it as though it’s just about ‘Americans in general’.

This is another method of othering populations. For examples, let’s turn to the one I use most often:


Israel is roughly 75% Jewish, 25% non-Jewish (mostly Arab) *

Here’s some of the breakdown of the ‘Elements in the population’
Arabs. Palestinian Arabs—Arabs in Israel
DS113.7        General works
DS113.72      Druzes
DS113.74      Lebanese
DS113.75      Bedouins

Then we get to the rest which is an odd mix of Nationality Jews and unmarked Nationalities. What I mean by that can be seen from some of the listing:

DS113.8.A35     Algerian Jews

DS113.8.A4       Americans

DS113.8.A74     Armenians

DS113.8.B44     Belarusian Jews

DS113.8.B7       British

DS113.8.B84     Bulgarians

DS113.8.C35     Canadian Jews

What if you’re a British Jew? What about the Belarusians in Israel who aren’t Jewish? NO CLUE.

Just kidding. I checked LCs catalog, and all of the books from DS113.8.B7 are about British Jews in Israel ex.

So I have no idea why it’s ‘British’ and not ‘British Jews’…

If you check the whole listing, you may notice that there is no way to specify ‘Jews in Israel’. I remind you that Jews are given heading status with the DS101-151 section itself, equating Israel with the Jews. For this reason, there is no way to talk about Jews as a class of people in Israel. According to LC, if a resource is about the Israeli population, it is already about the Jews unless otherwise specified.

So the next time you come across an LC section subdividing the population into ‘elements’, ask yourself who isn’t there. Ask yourself who is considered the ‘regular’ population.

* While there are most definitely Jews who live in, or are descended from those who lived in, Arab nations, the idea of a ‘Jewish Arab’ is contentious and many Jews who could be called ‘Arab Jews’ such as Yemenite or Iraqi Jews, usually do not as it seems (to them) to diminish the notion of Jewish-as-ethnicity. Some do identify as Arabian Jews, such as Ella Shohat and Ammiel Alcalay and I completely respect anyone’s decision to identify as a Jewish Arab or not. I only added this footnote to clarify for those readers who may wonder at the distinction in the CIA factbook percentages. Israel’s census treats these as two mutually distinct classes.


Signalized intersections (May Subd Geog)

I saw a tweet by Mikki Kendall which sparked a seed of a beginning of a maybe ginormous project.

As you may remember from my first post — I began this blog as a response to feeling frustrated cataloging a book. The author was writing from his perspective of several intersecting identities, yet LC did not allow, neither in subject headings nor in classification, for me to account for them.

So having been reminded that I’d meant to explore the limits of those intersections — here goes something:

Social usages. Etiquette—General works—American—Special topics

BJ1857.A-Z      Other special topics, A-Z
BJ1857.A37      African Americans
BJ1857.B7        Boys
BJ1857.C5       Children
BJ1857.E8        Escort service
BJ1857.F3        Family
BJ1857.G5       Girls

BJ1857.N8       Nurses
BJ1857.S5       Sick, The
BJ1857.S75     Students
BJ1857.Y58     Young adults
BJ1857.Y6       Young women

Here you have several given sets of people for whom one could conceivably write an “American etiquette guide.” Let me save you the trouble, the only book in LC’s catalog (in three incarnations) for Escort service is Gentlemen for rent, by Ted Peckham, here’s a link to a New Yorker review of it.

Let’s say you’re holding a resource that’s an etiquette guide for African American girls, where would you class it?

Why Netanel, I can hear you (LC) say, surely no such resource could exist, otherwise we would’ve made a provision for it!

Link to just such materials

If a resource is targeted at young women, but they are also students, what then?

Example resource

More to come…

N.B. That subject heading in the title is a little joke — there is no heading for intersectionality, despite the preponderance of works which are about it. Perhaps that should be my next LCSH suggestion

Primer on Intersectionality

More from Mikki Kendall

Shipping Corporate Bodies

Before you get excited…it’s not that kind of shipping.

Dean and Castiel sleeping
I wish it WERE that kind of shipping

Per a question from MARCinaColdClimate about those new LCSH from last post

“Why are imaginary corps (like the Enterprise) 150s & imaginary persons (like Biggles) 100s?”

There are really two things at work here, and we’ll tackle them one at a time.

  1. LC’s ideas about Corporate bodies
  2. LC’s ideas about fictional or imaginary characters/objects

Today, we’re doing Corporate bodies, call the board of directors and alert the CEO.

I think I have a pretty good sense of what a ‘Corporate body’ is, a group of people treated as singular entity for the sake of creation/ownership/production. Why, I interact with corporate bodies every day! I’m typing this on my Apple computer, listening to Dream Theater and drinking Tropicana orange juice. Well surprise! LC has a very different idea of what a corporate body is than I did.

LC’s Corporate body definition (under RDA) begins much the same as mine did

Corporate body, as used in this chapter, refers to an organization or group of persons and/or organizations that is identified by a particular name and that acts, or may act, as a unit.

But then you get this part:

Consider ad hoc events (such as athletic contests, exhibitions, expeditions, fairs, and festivals) and vessels (e.g., ships and spacecraft) to be corporate bodies.

What?! See in ye olden LC times, there was a little off hand concept called “the Division of the World.” Essentially, the world was divided into names and subjects, headings for the two were constructed differently and they were placed into two different authority files. Decisions were made as to what is treated as a subject (and if so what kind: topical/geographical/temporal/form) and what is treated as a name (and if so what kind: personal/corporate/meeting/title)

These groupings still exist, so let’s have a look at some of the other ‘Corporate bodies’ from Subject Heading Memo 405

  • Airplanes, Named
  • Armories
  • Concentration Camps
  • Fish Hatcheries
  • Helplines
  • Morgues
  • Projects, Plans, etc.
  • Ships

So there’s your “why is a ship a 110 rather than a 150” They are because they’ve always been that way. A terrible answer, I know! But at least you’ve got some decent sources that show that LC does indeed treat ships as corporate bodies, check the authority files for Apollo 11Santa María and the Challenger and you’ll find them in a 110.

Now, as to why imaginary ships are a 150, but imaginary people are a 100? Stay tuned for that…


As always — check out the full approved list

There are a lot of newly approved terms for various native folks of the US and Canada particularly familial relationships

Aging in mass media   (Not Subd Geog)

Still from Benjamin Button

Alaska Native basket makers   (May Subd Geog)

Four Alaskan women making baskets
Photo from: Old Indian Photos


Amazonis Planitia (Mars)

cannabis seeds called 'Wonder Woman'
Photo from: Buy Dutch Seeds

(note that I know that this is not what Amazonis Planitia is)

Asian American cooking   (May Subd Geog)

Joyce Chen (center) holds large Chinese radishes picked by middle-school students in Beijing, China, in 1972.
Photo from: NPR

At sign

Photo from: Eco Inerti S.r.l


Portrait of Rush, the Canadian Rock Band
Photo from: Used Wigs

Choctaw teenagers   (May Subd Geog)

anti-smoking teens
Photo from Choctaw Nation

Elephants—War use   (May Subd Geog)


Ancient Psychic Tandem War Elephant (from Adventure Time)
Photo from We Listening to Wu-Tang

Drug use and traffic accidents   (May Subd Geog)

Cheech driving a car, smoking an over-sized blunt
Photo from: Auto Guide



Enterprise (Imaginary space vehicle)   (Not Subd Geog)

Several different iterations of the star ship Enterprise
Photo from: SciFi English



Halloween television programs   (May Subd Geog)

Still from 'It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown' special
Photo from: Wear the Cheese

Inuit infants   (May Subd Geog)

Young Inuit
Photo from: Polarwelten Gallery


Pregnant students   (May Subd Geog)

Promotional still from 'Pregnancy Pact'
Photo from: J-14

Spectacular, The, in motion pictures   (Not Subd Geog)

Women arranged around a fountain in a Busby Berkeley film
Photo from: Quotation of

Whales as pets   (May Subd Geog)

Art of a child riding a whale
Photo from: Deviant Art


The Default + My First LCSH Proposal

Much more astute people than I have written about societal defaults in perceptions of people. ‘Regular’ is white person, ‘other’ is POC; ‘normal’ is men, ‘special’ is women.

Here’s an older post on the topic of male as default and below is a tweet from just the other day.

Our friend LCSH is no different. There are subject headings such as:

Flight attendants, which have an NT of Gay flight attendants. I see two possible unstated assumptions here —

  1. Flight attendants are ‘normally’ not gay and thus we need to mark those that are as distinct from the ‘normal’ version
  2. There is a preponderance of work about Gay flight attendants as a specific group which must need have their own headings to most accurately describe those works

[This occurs throughout LCSH and at a future point I will address it more broadly (I really need to start writing down what I’ve said I will examine at a future point…thus ensuring I do!)]

The former assumption is shitty, and re-affirms ‘difference’ as abnormality and other. The latter assumption bears examination, so let’s head to WorldCat and see what we see.

As a subject, WorldCat returns 2,027 hits for ‘Flight attendant’, and 10  for ‘Gay flight attendant’. These are those 10 –

  1. My best man — a novel, doesn’t use the actual heading, but it was published before the heading was created in 2007
  2. Fly to him  — a novel, doesn’t use the actual heading
  3. Jeff’s way — a biography of a flight attendant killed on American Airlines 11, on 9/11. This is the book which prompted the creation of the heading as seen in the 670 field of the heading itself. 
  4. Gracias por volar conmigo — a biography of Fernando Peña, who created a popular character Milagros Lopez while he was a flight attendant (and continued performing in the role later in life), it uses the heading.
  5. Stewardess boy — a novel, doesn’t use the actual heading, though it may be apt
  6. Manhood up in the air : gender, sexuality, corporate culture, and the law in twentieth century America – a PhD thesis which doesn’t use the heading, but would be a good fit; as an aside, it seems really interesting!
  7. Another version of 6
  8. Poster and Broadside Collection of Tamiment Institute Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, [ca. 1904-1991] — 2000 posters in an archive, false positive from two different unrelated headings
  9. Technology and gay identity: the case of the pre-Second World War male flight attendant — a journal article, doesn’t use the heading (or any headings) but would be a good fit
  10. Another version of 9

I also hopped over to LC’s catalog to see what’s cooking over there — they have a decent number of hits containing Flight attendant (LC’s interface breaks them into facets so adding them up would be tedious as hell) and a grand total of zero for Gay flight attendant. That’s right, the very book that they cite as the impetus for the heading — they don’t have it. Sorry Jeff.

So what have we learned? Are there enough works specifically on Gay flight attendants to justify the heading? Sure! But then, I’m much more comfortable than LC is on creating more faceted intersectional headings. Heck, here’s four more books which don’t use the heading, but could!

Steward and the Wolf by Laurent Jarr

Plane Queer: Labor, Sexuality, and AIDS in the History of Male Flight Attendants By Philip James Tiemeyer

The Impact of Work on Gay Male Identity Among Male Flight Attendants by Kay V. Adams

Confessions of a Qantas Flight Attendant by Owen Beddall

The real question here, the whole dang point is: Does having an NT heading like this mean that ‘Flight attendants’ should only be applied if the resource is not about gay flight attendants? Should it also have an NT of ‘Heterosexual flight attendants’, ‘Lesbian flight attendants’, ‘Bisexual flight attendants’, ‘Flexual flight attendants’, etc. There’s certainly literary warrant for all — don’t make me go digging, but I’ll find those books.


One of the few place I could find LC actually stating something on this kind of “what does this heading really mean” question, is:

Heterosexual mothers (May Subd Geog)
Here are entered works on mothers that emphasize their heterosexuality, usually in contrast to lesbians as mothers. General works on mothers without regard to their sexuality are entered under Mothers.

LC is saying that the resource has to specify that it’s about heterosexual parents, if it’s a general resource about parents even if all the parents mentioned or presented as examples are heterosexual — then you place it under ‘Mothers’. Again, for the folks in the back, if you write a book called, “Barbara Bush, Virginia Clinton Kelley, and Dorothy Walker Bush: Mothers” — unless you specifically mention their being heterosexual in the contents, the heading couldn’t be applied — you’d apply the heading ‘Mothers.’* As though this book somehow encompasses all aspects and versions of motherhood and not straight, white, cis, America, motherhood.

This long and rambly post is all a lead-up to say, that I have submitted my first LCSH proposal! I filled out their form (which is VERY hard to write in!) and found good sources for “Cisgender people” a term currently not in the LCSH, as they have very few, and poor at that, terms for gender whatsoever.

More to come on Marked-Others in LCSH, and I will update this post when/if my proposal moves along in the process.


*Before you come parping at me, YES I know that you’d actually apply ” Mothers of presidents–United States”

THE TROUBLE WITH DS101-151 – Example

Okay, so following on the last post — y’all get the fundamental problem now with the DS101-151 section, here’s an example of that in action:



 History of Asia—Israel (Palestine). The Jews—Special topics—Jewish diaspora—By region or country—Other regions or countries, A-Z

In simplest terms, this single number is assigned to works on Jews not in Israel. (Yes, the Americas are in the Es and Fs, and three countries [Germany, Poland, and Russia] were moved from the DS135s to DS134.2-DS134.93.)

At my place of work for instance, we have over 7000 resources in that single number, DS135, sure they’re arranged A-Z and cuttered by country, but placing a book there irks me — every time.

Because in so doing I’m saying that this book is about the Jewish diaspora, that every Jew living in the Czech Republic, Australia, and Uganda is really just waiting for Eretz Yisrael to call them home, and that doesn’t jibe with me, neither as a cataloger, nor as a Jew.

For the former, when I’m cataloging a book about Jews in Prague in the 19th century, going about their business and lives — why on earth am I saying that they’re in a diaspora? A book about Prague Jews in the 19th century and their feelings as diaspora Jews – sure! But it shouldn’t be the default.

I understand that it’s a term used to mean “outside of Israel”, it’s not that I don’t ‘get it’. But to me it implies two things:

  1. That all works about Jews who happen to be outside of Israel are somehow about that outside of Israel-ness.
  2. That Israel is the Jewish homeland, and have an inherent right to it

As a final note, it’s interesting to me that LC has figured out that you can talk about Jews in other countries more neutrally.


Latin America. Spanish America—Mexico—Elements in the population, A-Z—Jews


British America—Canada—Elements in the population—Jews


Would that they’d extend this logic to the other countries.

Disability in the Library of Congress Classification Scheme – Part 2

Biography is a special case of classification. There are dedicated memos about classifying biographies in the subject headings manual as well as the classification and shelflisting manual (F 275, G 320).

A reading of these instructions will show that biographies can’t be placed wherever one would like, there has to be a provision provided for it in the schedule.

Turning again to the HVs, the first such instruction encountered under ‘People with disabilities’ is at HV1552.3

Biography (Collective)
Including persons involved with rehabilitation or education of and services to people with disabilities
For individual biography, see the specific class of people with disabilities

The specific classes provided are as follows:

Developmentally disabled

Including works on the deaf and blind

Deaf. Hearing impaired
Including deaf-mutes

Terminally ill. Incurables

People with mental disabilities

People with physical disabilities

Of these six, biography provisions are given for people with blindness (and those of exceptional pupils), deafness, and terminal illnesses.

Biographies for people with mental disabilities are directed to RC569.7-574*, and biographies for people with physical disabilities are also directed to see the condition itself in the R [Medicine] class.

So to sum up: when classifying a book about someone with disabilities, depending on the disability your options are to class it as a biography under a class of people needing ‘Protection, assistance, relief’ — or to place it alongside all medical works on the same condition. As disabled activists advocate for decreasing the medicalized view, we do a disservice with these two options.

*While there is a provision at HV3006.A39.A-Z for Biography, individual, A-Z, checking LC’s catalog reveals a total of 7 books with that classification. That indicates to me that the preferred area is RC569.7-574.

Disability in the Library of Congress Classification scheme – Part 1

The impetus for this blog was that I was cataloging a book, Exile and pride by Eli Clare, and found myself quite dissatisfied with several aspects of the master record.

Leaving aside the misgendering subject headings for the moment, as that’s another post for another day, I spent some time looking at the way LC’s classification scheme treats disabilities and disabled folks.

First, a note about LC’s notion of classes of people: from the subject headings manual H 1100:

classes of persons, including age and sex groups; social, economic, and political categories of persons; types of afflicted persons; members of particular religions; employees and occupational groups; etc. Examples: Youth; Women; Fathers; Poor; Political prisoners; People with mental disabilities; Liver–Cancer–Patients; Catholics; Hare Krishnas; Fire fighters; Judges; Darts players; High technology industries–Employees.

LC treats classes of people from different perspectives: if you’re looking for works on the legal treatment of a particular class, you’ll find that in the Ks, an anthropologic treatment of that class in the Gs, a religious treatment in the Bs, etc.

The H class, being the social sciences, struck me as the natural place for a resource by a disability rights activist, and indeed I found:

Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology–Protection, assistance and relief–Special classes

HV1551-3024 People with disabilities

Notice that people with disabilities is explicitly placed under ‘Protection, assistance and relief–Special classes’, a span from HV697 to HV3024.

By placing people with disabilities here, they are co-located with other classes of people who happen to be in need of ‘Protection, assistance and relief’

A screenshot from the HV classification outline with 'HV697-4959 Protection, assistance and relief ' highlighted in red and 'HV1551-3024 People with disabilities Including blind, deaf, people with physical and mental disabilities' indicated by a red arrow

for instance:

HV1442-1448 Women
HV1449 Gay men. Lesbians
HV3025-3163 Mariners

Each of these areas is designated for that class of person as someone in need not general placement of works about that class of person as a person.

A work on any of the previous three groups as classes themselves not in need of protection could be classed in a number of places, e.g.:

HQ1155 Women. Feminism—History—Modern—21st century
HQ75.25 Sexual minorities—Homosexuality. Lesbianism—General works
HD8039.S4-.S42 Labor. Work. Working class—By industry or trade, A-Z—Seamen.
Sailors. Merchant mariners

People with disabilities have no such other number, they are only classed as a special class of people in need of protection, assistance and relief.

Next: Part 2 – the biography subdivision.