I don't believe that this is "very specific to Michigan and not easily generalizable to other jurisdictions."  Rather, I think it may come from LC's impulse to condense and simplify.  It may be that most catalogers lack knowledge of bureaucratic forms and organizations much beyond those in which they live and work, as opposed to linguistic, literary or artistic forms. Perhaps it also comes from Washington being below the Mason-Dixon Line where historically the major political unit was the county, with a relatively few incorporated cities cut out of them and no townships or dense local government jurisdictions. The situation in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the Old Northwest is different, with lots of small local governments that have been continuously subdivided into even smaller units as population increased, with jurisdictions such a boroughs, towns, villages cut out of townships like doughnut holes, or townships that combine and raise in grade as they become more urbanized and require larger local governments.  The City of Philadelphia, for example, has absorbed all of the surrounding townships to become coterminous with Philadelphia County.  So people here in the Delaware Valley can understand the need to differentiate between two kinds of "Dearborn."

According to their official web sites, many townships in New Jersey and Pennsylvania officially identify themselves as either "X Township" or "Township of X," although my own home, "Lower Merion" seems to use "Township" as a qualifier, perhaps because for a time it was the only "first class township" in the state, with powers more like a city.  Also, as townships are subdivisions of counties in the states with small jurisdictions and strong local governments, there are often townships of the same name in several counties within a state.  New Jersey has five "Washington Townships," and Pennsylvania has multiple "Springfield Townships."

"Martha Furnace (Washington, N.J.)" (n 88005970) was obviously created by someone at LC with no knowledge of New Jersey geography, since as noted, there are five Washington Townships, and this is the one in Burlington County.  "Washington, N.J." to the Post Office and most state residents, only means Washington Borough in Warren County, about 60 miles away, which is a doughnut hole jurisdiction cut out of another Washington Township.  "Gibbstown (N.J.)" (n 86001231) refers to a small village in Monmouth County, whereas there is a much larger and still existing "Gibbstown" in Gloucester County, which was the site of a major DuPont explosives plant, for which we need a proper geographic qualifier that is not the former hamlet 30 or more miles away.

The fundamental issue is that a central cataloging agency cannot be expected to provide an accurate picture of local areas with the granularity and knowledge needed by those actually on the ground, certainly not in a country of such size and diversity in its political and bureaucratic arrangements.

Christopher T. Baer
Assistant Curator
Manuscripts & Archives
Hagley Museum and Library

-----Original Message-----
From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Watters, Tim (MDE)
Sent: Monday, October 20, 2014 8:10 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [PCCLIST] Question about qualifier used for Tijauna

Thank you Stephen. That is a better example. I modified most of those township headings you mention to include the type of jurisdiction as part of the name, but was recently informed by LC that those are incorrect and that the type of jurisdiction (in this case "Township") will be removed from the name. So we will be back to an undifferentiated "Dearborn" in corporate body qualifiers. My other job duties are now crowding out the Sisyphean task of advocating that LC-PCC PS's be edited to accommodate something very specific to Michigan and not easily generalizable to other jurisdictions. The question keeps coming up though. When I saw Becky's question, I dashed off that message without checking my example. Thanks for amendment!



Stephen Hearn  wrote:

Friendly amendment to Tim Watters question: Dearborn (Mich) (n 79056669) vs. Dearborn (Mich. : Township) (n 81018619) is a better example.  Most Michigan townships are established with "Township" as part of the township's name, not as a qualifier. That's another way to resolve the problem.