To follow Deborah Leslie's train of thought ...
I think that those of us who have catalogued rare books have an =
appreciation that, at some point, everything becomes source material for =
historical research (even history!). But the implication of this is =
that at some point, all subject headings will have to have "History" or =
"History -- Sources" added to them. I don't think that anyone wants to =
go back through a hundred years of cataloguing to change subject =
headings for those things that are now historical. And, of course, the =
decision would have to be made on a case-by-case basis: some articles =
in the 9th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica (1890-something) are =
of interest only to the historian; others contain information that is =
perfectly valid and usable by children doing school projects today.
My intuitive approach (i.e. without training or experience in subject =
analysis) would be to assign non-contemporary material subject headings =
as if it had been catalogued at the time it was created. The date of =
the item will allow the user to judge whether it is relevant to their =
needs or not. So in the example that started this thread, the subject =
heading would be "Cotton farmers -- Virginia". The material is =
recognizable as a historical source by its date. "History" would be =
reserved for explicitly historical treatments; "History -- Sources" =
would be reserved for material explicitly intended to be a historical =
source, such as some of the curriculum material for history that I have =
seen my children bring home. In Deborah's example, the 1645 pamphlet on =
the battle of Naseby would have the subject heading "English Civil War =
-- Battle of Naseby", and the 1992 monograph would have the subject =
heading "English Civil War -- Battle of Naseby -- History" (or whatever =
the subject heading really is).
I was trained in the UK Precis system many years ago, and one =
interesting point I remember from that is that it had no heading or =
subdivision "history", because everything was seen as being or becoming =
history from somebody's point of view at some time.
From: Deborah J. Leslie <[log in to unmask]>
To: Multiple recipients of list USMARC <[log in to unmask]>
Date: 21 November 1997 18:19
Subject: Re: Period Subdivisions for manuscript materials
>Queries on the subdivision "History" opens a real can of worms, since =
>subdivision is sometimes used by LCSH to indicate historical treatment =
>topic and sometimes to indicate that the time period covered is
>'historical' vis-a-vis us.
>It is not only a problem for manuscript catalogers, as Jackie Dooley
>pointed out, but for rare book catalogers. There is no way to =
>by subject heading a pamphlet printed in 1645 on the Battle of Naseby =
>1992 monograph on the Battle of Naseby. The first is a contemporary =
>of the event ("historical" to us but not to the author or its original
>readers); the second is an historical treatment of the topic.
>This, along with the "History--Sources" problem is one of continual
>vexation to me. I have a folder on the problem, and have what I realize =
>unrealistically optimistic hopes that someday I can enlist some others =
>help me think through this problem and propose a solution.
>Deborah J. Leslie, Rare Book Catalog Librarian III
>[log in to unmask] | http://www.library.yale.edu/~djleslie
>Sterling Memorial Library | Catalog Dept., Rare Book Team | PO Box =
>Yale University | New Haven, CT 06520-8240
>(203) 432-8377 | (203) 432-7231 (fax)