What Subject Headings are used for Works on Presidential Elections in the United States and Related Topics?

ANSS Subject and Bibliographic Access Committee

 Question/Answer on Cataloging Issues – May 2017

By Wade Kotter, Weber State University

Question: What subject headings are used for works on presidential elections in the United States and related topics?

Answer:

Recent events have led to a great deal of interest in the presidential election process in the United States among students, researchers, and the general public. The Library of Congress has established a number of both general and more specific subject headings for works that deal with this process and related topics. The general form for subject headings assigned to works about presidential campaigns and elections is:

  • Presidents – [may subdivide geographically] – Election – [may subdivide by date]

Thus, the general heading for presidential campaigns and elections in the United States is:

  • Presidents – United States – Election

 As noted above, headings of this type can be subdivided by date if appropriate. For a work on the 2016 presidential election in the United States, one appropriate heading would be:

  • Presidents – United States – Election – 2016

Note that in headings of this form, the term “Election” is not a free-floating subdivision. Instead, it’s a topical subdivision established for headings referring to a specific elected office, including Presidents. It should not be confused with the free-floating subdivisions Elections and Elections, [date], which are used under corporate groups (including legislative bodies), but not under headings for a specific elected office. So, for example, United States. Congress – Elections is an acceptable heading, but United States. Presidents – Elections is not used.

For works about the election of a specific individual as President of the United States, the established name authority heading for that individual is also assigned to the work. For example, a work specifically addressing the election of Donald Trump in 2016 would be assigned at least the following subject headings:

  • Presidents – United States – Election – 2016
  • Trump, Donald, 1946-

For works specifically about presidential candidates and/or their spouses in the United States, one of the following headings may be assigned, along with the established name authority heading for a specific candidate and/or a specific candidate’s spouse if appropriate:

  • Presidential candidates – United States
  • African American presidential candidates – United States
  • Women presidential candidates – United States
  • Presidential candidates’ spouses – United States

Thus, the following subject headings would be appropriate for a work specifically addressing Hillary Clinton’s campaign for President in 2016:

  • Presidents – United States – Election – 2016
  • Clinton, Hillary Rodham
  • Women presidential candidates – United States
  • Presidential candidates – United States

 In addition to the headings already mentioned, several headings for various issues related to elections and voting may be applied to works that discuss these specific issues in relation to presidential elections in the United Sates. Some possibilities along with selected narrower and/or related terms are:

  • Election forecasting – United States
    • Related term:
      • Exit polling (Elections) – United States
      • Election law – United States
    • Narrower terms:
      • Campaign funds – United States – Law and legislation
      • Election forecasting – United States – Law and legislation
      • Electronic voting – United States – Law and legislation
      • Equal time rule (Broadcasting) – United States
      • Internet in political campaigns – United States – Law and legislation
      • Political campaigns – United States – Law and legislation
      • Primaries – United States – Law and legislation
    • Election monitoring – United States
    • Elections – United States
      • Narrower terms:
        • Ballot – United States
        • Campaign funds – United States
        • Campaign literature – United States
        • Campaign paraphernalia – United States
        • Campaign promises – United States
        • Campaign speeches – United States
        • Contested elections – United States
        • Electoral college – United States
        • Nominations for office – United States
        • Primaries – United States
        • Voter registration – United States
        • Voter turnout – United States
        • Voting – United States
        • Voting – United States – Religious aspects – Buddhism, [Christianity, etc.]
        • Voting research – United States
      • Elections – United States – Corrupt practices [used for Election fraud]
        • Narrower term:
          • Voter intimidation – United States
          • Elections – United States – Religious aspects – Buddhism, [Christianity, etc.]
          • Elections – United States – Statistics
          • Electoral geography – United States
          • Internet in political campaigns – United States
          • Political campaigns – United States
          • Presidents – United States – Nomination
          • Television in politics – United States

 Finally, the Library of Congress Subject Heading Manual instruction sheet on Politics and Government (H1942) includes the following instructions that may be relevant for subject headings assigned to works on presidential campaigns and elections in the United States:

  1. Assigning additional headings. Works on political topics are usually multifaceted, requiring an array of headings to bring out the important aspects of the material. Assign several headings, if appropriate, to cover major topics discussed in a work. In most instances, one of these should be a heading of the type [place]-Politics and government. (p. 4)

Later in H1942 (p. 5), the following relevant example is provided:

Title: Wake us when it’s over : presidential politics of l984.

  • 650 #0 $a Presidents $z United States $x Election $y 1984.
  • 651 #0 $a United States $x Politics and government $y 1981-1989.
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