Re: [ACAT] When do I use?

Posting to Autocat

On 03/04/2013 20:58, Christopher Thomas wrote:

When the name of a place changes over time, subject headings generally use the current name if it represents the same geographic area. If you have a book about Ceylon, you would use the subject heading Sri Lanka. If you have a book about Upper Volta, you would use the subject heading Burkina Faso. Russia is one of 15 republics which once comprised the Soviet Union. Since these two terms don’t represent the same geographic area, they are both still valid for use as subject headings. Similarly, Germany, East and Germany, West are still valid for works whose content covers the period when those were separate countries.

Not quite correct. “Russia” and “Russia (Federation)” are not the same entities and therefore they do not represent the same geographic area. “Russia” is the name of the empire that ended in 1917. “Russia” was replaced by “Soviet Union”, which was the “Union of Soviet Socialist Republics”. One part of those “Soviet Socialist Republics” was the “Russian S.F.S.R.” (still a valid name heading). The Soviet Union ended in 1991, and nothing really replaced it although LC added the heading “Former Soviet republics” which is valid only for subjects.  The novelty is that all of these headings are valid as subjects. This is why Russia = Soviet Union = Former Soviet republics.

There is a current name heading for the entity that corresponds to the area “Russia = Soviet Union = Former Soviet republics” and has the name heading “Commonwealth of Independent States”.

“Russia” and “Soviet Union” are still valid as name headings.

The older “Russian S.F.S.R.” was replaced with “Russia (Federation)” in subject analysis, that is, the entity that exists today. That is complicated too. All of this is discussed in the Slavic Cataloging Manual.

The overview is at: and the full discussion is at

If the manual isn’t “authoritative” enough, please look at the guidelines under “Russia” in the NAF:

151     __ |a Russia
667     __ |a DESCRIPTIVE USAGE: This heading is to be used for corporate bodies and jurisdictions which represent Tsarist Russia from ca. 15th cent. to the 1917 Revolution; corporate bodies and jurisdictions which existed into the Soviet period, i.e. 1917-1991 should use name headings for either Russian S.F.S.R. (qualifier R.S.F.S.R.) or Soviet Union depending on jurisdictional level.
667     __ |a Includes the old catalog headings: Russia and Russia (1917. Provisional Govt.).
667     __ |a Do not confuse this heading with the heading for the jurisdiction: Russia (Federation), which is to be used for imprints 1992-

But Russia and Soviet Union and Former Soviet republics remain valid for subjects. All of this is quite different from other practices. Even though the record says not to get confused, it is very easy to do. There are many other special areas, e.g. “Leningrad (R.S.F.S.R)” is a valid name heading but not for subjects. See why it requires a specialist and why it is so easy to mess it up, as has been done over and over?

How a normal searcher can deal with any of this, I do not know.

I do like Aaron’s “Palestinian dinosaurs”!