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IIB. The Four Ways to Find Proper Subject Headings

b. Alphabetic adjacency of subject terms

The second way to find the most appropriate specific subject heading(s) is to note the alphabetical adjacency of terms in the LCSH list. Thus, for example, there is a valid heading for African Americans in the list; but none of NT references below it start with the term “African American(s)”; in this case, the relevant narrower terms are alphabetically adjacent to the general term. They include forms such as the following:

African American abolitionists
African American accountants
African American baseball managers
African American book collectors
African American children
African American composers
African American decorative arts
African American dramatists
African American elementary schools
African American explorers
African American families in art
African American folk art
African American generals
African American girls
African American History Month
African American horsemen and horsewomen
African American infants
African American investment advisors
African American jazz musicians
African American judges
African American labor leaders
African American lifeboat crew members
African American male singers
African American motion picture actors and actresses
African American newspapers
African American nurses
African American oral tradition
African American Pentecostal churches
African American philosophy
African American quilts
African American radicals
African American rodeo performers
African American scientists
African American surgeons
African American teachers
African American television journalists
African American Unitarian Universalists
African American universities and colleges
African American veterans
African American vocal coaches
African American whalers
African American women civil rights workers
African American women storytellers
African American youth
African American yuppies in motion pictures
African Americans
African Americans—Civil rights

—Economic conditions
— History—To 1863
— History—1863–1877
— Mortality
— Professional education
— Relations with Indians
— Relations with Korean Americans
— Songs and music
African Americans and mass media
African Americans in art
African Americans in literature
African Americans in mass media
African Americans in the newspaper industry
African Americans on television
African Americans with disabilities

This list is only a very brief sample of the relevant headings that are alphabetically nearby—both before and after—the term African Americans; there are over sixteen full pages of such headings and cross-references in the red books. Similarly extensive displays appear near Art, Business, Television, Women, and a host of other topics.

The important point here is that you have two places to look in the red books for tightest-fit headings: the formal NT cross-references and the arrays of alphabetically adjacent terms. The NTs alone are not adequate to alert you to all of the relevant terms.

Sometimes the trails of association will involve both NT and alphabetically adjacent terms. For example, the general term Divorce does not provide a direct NT reference to Children of divorced parents. Rather, the heading Divorce is alphabetically followed by Divorced parents, and the latter term provides the necessary NT reference to Children of divorced parents (as well as to the even narrower Adult children of divorced parents).

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  December 1, 2016
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