Re: [ACAT] world war subject headings

Posting to Autocat

On 5/29/2014 3:55 PM, Brent Eckert wrote:

The construction of subject headings for wars is described in the LC Subject Headings Manual section H 1592 which is the section for “events.” The instructions state to use the conventional terminology or generally accepted name in English for the name of the event and to provide the date or range of dates for a unique event. So, “World War, 1939-1945” is the conventional name of the event with the date range added. Apparently the designation “II” or “2nd” has been deemed a chronological designation and not part of the name of the war(?). And unnecessary since the dates in the heading differentiate it from the first World War. And, of course, the first World War wasn’t called the First World War (or World War I) until the second World War came along.

Earlier “library economy” was obsessed with saving any and all labor that they could. “Library economy” was based on the latest theories of the day and was fully in accord with the Taylorist mentality. [For those who are interested in this interesting movement, which reached around the world, there is not a bad explanation in Wikipedia,, and this was what Charlie Chaplin was spoofing in Modern Times]

When I look at these sorts of changes, I always consider how much work was it to change the cards. Here, the earlier heading was “European War, 1914-1918” and changing it to “World War, 1914-1918” took substantially less labor (erasing 1 word, replacing with 1 word) instead of “World War I, 1914-1918” (erasing 2 words, replacing with 3 words). To the library managers of those times, it was probably a no-brainer.

Also, although the heading for WWII could have been “World War II, 1938-” I suspect that for the sake of consistency with World War, 1914-1918, they left out the II (2, Two, whatever).