Subject Headings for Hate Crimes and Trials Related to Hate Crimes

ANSS Subject and Bibliographic Access Committee

Question/Answer on cataloging issues – October 2015

By Wade Kotter, Weber State University

Question: What are the appropriate LC subject headings for hate crimes and for trials related to hate crimes?

According to the United States Code, hate crimes are “crimes that manifest evidence of prejudice based on race, gender or gender identity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity” (28 U.S.C. § 534, section on Hate Crime Statistics). The established LC subject heading for crimes of this type is Hate crimes (http://lccn.loc.gov/sh90002645), which may be subdivided geographically. In the Library of Congress Subject Headings, Crime is given as a Broader Term and two Narrower Terms are listed, Trials (Hate crimes) [see more below] and Victims of hate crimes (http://lccn.loc.gov/sh2006020093), both of which may also be subdivided geographically. Two established topical subdivisions under Hate crimes are listed in the Library of Congress Subject Headings, Hate crimes – Law and legislation and Hate crimes – Press coverage; both of these may also be subdivided geographically. It is a bit surprising that the Library of Congress does not provide a scope note for Hate crimes in light of the controversy that often erupts over whether a specific crime should or should not be treated as a hate crime. However, a review of several items assigned this subject heading by Library of Congress catalogers suggests that their use of this term is generally consistent with the definition from the United States Code given above.

In addition to Hate crimes, the Library of Congress provides two related free-floating subdivisions, Crimes against and Violence against, each of which may be used as a topical subdivision under both Classes of Persons and Ethnic Groups. Here are two examples based on this pattern:

Gays – Violence against [may subdivide geographically]

Blacks – Crimes against [may subdivide geographically]

As noted above, the heading Trials (Hate crimes) (http://lccn.loc.gov/sh95002775) is given in the Library of Congress Subject Headings as a Narrower Term under Hate crimes. In addition, the Library of Congress provides the free-floating subdivision Trials, litigation etc. (which may be subdivided geographically) for use as a topical subdivision under “names of individual persons, families, corporate bodies, or jurisdictions for the proceedings of civil or criminal actions to which they are parties, or for works about such proceedings” (see p. 2 in Section H 2228: http://www.loc.gov/aba/publications/FreeSHM/H2228.pdf). Also, according to this section of the LC Subject Cataloging Manual (see p.4), works about individual criminal trials should be assigned one subject heading using the subdivision Trials, litigation, etc. under the name of the defendant along with one or more headings using the pattern Trials ([topic]) – [Place] (in the present case, Trials (Hate crimes) – [Place]) and other relevant topical headings as needed. The later might include a heading for the trial as an “Event” in cases where a trial has become known by a popular name distinct from the name or names of the parties involved. Instructions for creating headings for various types of events, including criminal trials known by a popular name, are found in section H 1592 of the LC Subject Cataloging Manual (http://www.loc.gov/aba/publications/FreeSHM/H1592.pdf).

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