But is "George Sand" truly a man? Note this from "Histoire de ma vie, par George Sand": "Je suis née l’année du couronnement de Napoléon ..." with the feminine ending on "née." Many images of "George Sand" in the early stages of his/her career show him/her in clothing that combines masculine and feminine attributes, thus participating in the gender fluidity characteristic of the a certain artistic set during the July monarchy (compare Gautier's "Mademoiselle de Maupin"). Was anyone other than bourgeois shopkeepers ever taken in by the masculine charade?

That said, the question of birth and death dates is different from the question of gender, certainly. But if "George Sand"'s birthdate is the same as that of his/her alternative ("real"?) identity, Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dupin, do we need to distinguish the two?

And what about more obscure figures, who participated in various in-print and "real-world" identities and masquerades... Who is served by nailing down the distinctions and firming up the boundaries?

Bob Steele
GW Law

On Thu, Aug 23, 2018 at 3:47 PM, McDonald, Stephen <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

My apologies, Luiza.  I accidentally used the wrong pronoun for you.


                                                                                Steve McDonald

                                                                                [log in to unmask]



From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging <[log in to unmask]> On Behalf Of McDonald, Stephen
Sent: Thursday, August 23, 2018 3:38 PM

To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [PCCLIST] Describing pseudonyms/real identities


They are indeed interesting questions.  I was ready to make a quick reply to the original post, but then thought a little more deeply and deleted the response.


One of the issues mentioned by Luiza involves the generation of unique Authorized Access Points.  She brought up cases where the birth/death dates of the real author were used in the AAP of the pseudonym.  This is an old practice which will hopefully be unnecessary when we move from unique AAPs to identifiers.  So one question is whether we need to do anything immediately about that specific issue, or whether we can wait for identifiers to make it moot.  Given the way PCC usually proceeds, it would probably be years before a revised policy on pseudonymous AAPs could be implemented.  (The report on gender came out two years ago and is not approved yet.)  Without knowing how long it will take to move to identifiers, I am undecided on whether to wait.


The issue of whether to link the pseudonym to the real name is trickier than it seemed to me at first.  And this issue will _not_ become moot with linked data.  If anything, it becomes a more complicated issue.  An important part of linked data is cross-referencing, e.g. DatabaseX [ IdentityA ] same_as DatabaseY [IdentityB].  (Pardon my pseudocode; I don’t want to look up the proper way of expressing that.)  It’s obvious we need to match Asimov, Isaac, 1920-1992 to the Wikipedia entry for Isaac Asimov, for instance.  But what policies do we need to implement when the relationship is questionable, or controversial, or against the wishes of the agent?  Here are some of the questions that come to mind:


Is it appropriate to record metadata and relationships which are public knowledge?

What constitutes public knowledge?


Should we limit what we record about an agent to what we get from the resource, the publisher, and the agent?

Is it appropriate to remove or not record metadata or relationships at the request of the agent?

Is it appropriate to follow the wishes of the agent even when the information is public knowledge?

Are there circumstances where following the wishes of the agent constitutes censorship or revisionism?


If a linked data environment, our discovery layers will be able to pull data from external databases.  How much control should we exert over what databases our discovery layers will link to?


If Wikipedia links Robert Galbraith to J.K. Rowling, but we have chosen a policy which does not permit that relationship in our authority file, do we link our Robert Galbraith to Wikipedia’s Robert Galbraith or not?


How do we decide which databases we will or will not link our data to?  Do we decide an entire database is an acceptable source?  Or do we decide that linking this particular agent to that database is okay, but not linking that agent?


I think as we move to a linked data environment, the root questions go far beyond pseudonyms.  Agents might want to avoid association with particular events, publications, or organizations in their past which we might otherwise record in their authority record.  This could extend to any of the information we routinely record.  We already remove dates from AAPs when requested by an author, but we don’t remove the data from the authority record itself.  At what point does recording information invade privacy, and at what point does removing information become censorship?  Where are the boundaries of public information?


Deep questions.


                                                                                Steve McDonald

                                                                                [log in to unmask]



From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging <[log in to unmask]> On Behalf Of Stephen Hearn
Sent: Thursday, August 23, 2018 1:22 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [PCCLIST] Describing pseudonyms/real identities


These are really interesting questions!  We're pulled in two directions. On the one hand we want to protect people's privacy (and safety in some cases), which can indeed imply not giving a real name for someone writing under a pseudonym. On the other hand, scholars looking into the works of a person are not well served by a research tool which deliberately avoids associating works written under a pseudonym (Robert Galbraith)  with a known author (J.K. Rowling) by recording no connection between the names.


Likewise scholars working in gender studies would be ill served by a research tool which reported the works of George Eliot and George Sand as works by men and works by Madeleine Brent (pseudonym of Peter O'Donnell) and Margaret Cooke (pseudonym of John Creasey) as works by women. Better not to indicate gender at all than to indicate an imaginary one. But then, does avoiding gender statements ill serve scholars working in gender studies? 


Is the catalog an inventory access tool or a research tool? These two functions carry different obligations to our users. 


As my thinking on this topic evolves, it's becoming less about how we regard private individuals and more about our expectations of public personas as creators of works. We want to recognize the authenticity of the works of a person who writes from a given vantage point in terms of gender or race or cultural heritage. But that entails an expectation that persons creating works have understood the kind of exposure and scrutiny they may be subject to from  the receiving culture. In online culture there are domains where relative anonymity is widely accepted (all those secret dogs on the internet) and one's authority derives from the statements made under a disembodied handle. There's a kind of virtue to that kind of authority, but also a proven risk of deceptive practice in self representation. How can we know the things about a creator of works which authorize and validate their creations without knowing things which may compromise their privacy or potentially put them at risk? Is secrecy the only protection from such risks?


These are very deep waters.




On Thu, Aug 23, 2018 at 9:01 AM, Luiza Wainer <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Dear collective wisdom,


I was wondering on best practices for creating authority records for pseudonyms beyond what is covered on the LC/PCC FAQs on individuals with more than one identity.


If an individual only uses a pseudonym, we're instructed in RDA (exception), RDA and the aforementioned FAQs to input the person's real name, if known, as a 400. This seems a bit unethical to me. If this person does not want their real name associated with their works (hence the use of pseudonym), why are we making this explicit? In many cases with pseudonyms, a person has their real identity outed without their consent, and I question our complicity in this by publicly sharing this information in the NAF (see, for instance, the outing of J.K. Rowling as the real identity behind Robert Galbraith [1])


I also question using biographical information for the real identity when describing a pseudonym. Author's might decide that their pseudonym has a different gender, nationality, birth date, etc. then themselves for a myriad of reasons (like the endless list of women writers that decide to use male pseudonyms because, as Charlotte Bronte puts it, "we had a vague impression that authoresses are liable to be looked on with prejudice" [2]). Records like no2018033569 (Cunha, Eduardo, ǂd 1975-), n  79045512 (Eliot, George, ǂd 1819-1880), n  78081235 (Sand, George, ǂd 1804-1876) - just to name a few off the top of my head - all carry biographical information of the real identity, which does not describe the pseudonym.


It seems to me that the same best practices suggested for recording information about gender [3] should be applied for pseudonyms: "Do not dig for given names or genders assigned at birth". Which is to say, describe the identity associated with the pseudonym, and do not dig for information regarding the real identity. 




Luiza Wainer

Metadata Librarian

Princeton University Library

[log in to unmask] | (609) 258-2789

(Pronouns: they/them/theirs)






Stephen Hearn, Metadata Strategist

Data Management & Access, University Libraries

University of Minnesota

170A Wilson Library (office)

160 Wilson Library (mail)

Ph: 612-625-2328

Fx: 612-625-3428

ORCID:  0000-0002-3590-1242