Subject Headings up to the Middle of the 19th Century:A Generalised View


  • Indian Statistical Institute, Documentation Research and Training Centre, Bangalore, 560 003, India


Up to the middle of the 19th century, subject headings had been intimately related with the organisational policies of closed access and of static location. Subject headings were used to store the documents in libraries, and to discover and/or retrieve them, or Information about them. "One document - one entry" was generally the principle In cataloguing practice up to the end of the 14th century. This entry was the subject entry of the systematiC catalogue. "One document - two entries" marked the beginning of multiple entry catalogUing by the end of the 14th century. Of these two, the entry under the subject heading was deemed to be the main entry of the systematiC catalogue, and the entry under the author heading or its substitute was deemed to be the added entry for the index to the systematic catalogue. By the end of the 15th century, the index to the systematiC catalogue used to be consisted of author, subject, and catch-word of title entries arranged in one alphabetical sequence. By the end of the 16th century, catalogues predominantly consisting of author, translator and subject-reference entries became popular; and in such a catalogue the author entries were deemed to be the main entries. From the last quarter of the 17th century, author-title catalogue gained popularity. By the end of the 18th century, the schemes of subject headings forming the foundation of the systematic catalogue were considerably expanded by incorporating new major subjects and their subdivisions. At the beginning of the 19th century, as a means to overcome the disadvantages of the systematic arrangement of subject headings, the alphabetico-classed catalogue was developed. On the other hand, the dictionary catalogue predominantly made up of author, title, and specific subject entries gained popularity. The choice and rendering of subject headings used to be governed by pre-designed schemes, of subject headings (schemes for verbal classification). They were either "literary" schemes or "research" schemes. Evidences are available of the existence of more than 100 such schemes. The subjects recognised by these schemes were mostly deemed as if they were all simple subjects.

Subject Discipline

Library Management

Full Text:


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