Organization of Source Material


Where to Find Things

In a library, the basic organization is a hierarchy of subjects. These subjects are usually classified by one of two systems, either the Dewey Decimal system or the Library of Congress system. An understanding of a repository's organizational system will help the researcher find all relevant material quickly and easily.

Dewey Decimal Call Numbers

000 General Works Major general references found here
100 Philosophy  
200 Religion  
300 Social Sciences Almanacs, historical statistics, directories of associations, etc.
400 Language Includes foreign dictionaries
500 Pure Science  
600 Technology  
700 The Arts  
800 Literature  
900 Geography and History  

Every division is subdivided. The following is the subdivision for genealogy (Dewey Decimal number 929).


Genealogy, names, insignia

  .1 Genealogy
  .107 2 Research, i.e. specific techniques and procedures involved in doing genealogical research in a specific area.
  .2 Family histories
Optionally, this category is arranged alphabetically by name.
  .202 8 Auxiliary techniques & procedures
  .3 Genealogical sources; examples: census records, court records, wills . . .
Used only for sources published by a genealogical organization or genealogist
  .309 Historical and geographical treatment
  .33-.39 Treatment by specific continents, countries, locales
  .4 Personal names
  .42 Surnames
  .44 Forenames
  .5 Cemetery records
  .6 Heraldry: family coats of arms are classed here
  .7 Royal houses, peerage, gentry, orders of knighthood
Class here rank, precedence; works emphasizing lineage with respect to royalty, peerage, or gentry; history and genealogy of royal families
  .709 Historical and geographical treatment
  .71 Orders of knighthood
  .72-.79 Treatment of royal houses, peerage, gentry, arranged by specific European countries
  .8 Awards, orders, decorations, armorial bearings, autographs
  .81 Awards, orders, decorations
  .82 Armorial bearings
  .83 Autographs
  .9 Forms of insignia and identification
Examples include trademarks and motor vehicle registrations
  .92 Flags and banners
  .97 Names such as names of houses, ships, pets

Library of Congress Classification System

A General Works Encyclopedias, reference books, periodicals, etc.
B Philosophy-religion  
C Auxiliary sciences of history CB   History of civilization (General)
CC   Archaeology
CD   Archives
CJ   Numismatics
CR   Heraldry
CS   Genealogy

CT   Biography (General)
D History: General and Old World D    World History, including World Wars
DA   Great Britain
DB   Austria
DC   France
DD, etc.  Other individual countries
E-F History of America E  1-143  America (General)
E  151-857  United States (General)
F  1-957  United States: States and local (Grouped by regions, then states, then counties, then towns)
F  1001-1140  Canada
F  1201, etc.  Other individual countries
G Geography, Anthropology, Folklore, etc.  
H Social Sciences HA     Statistics
HB-HJ  Economics
HM-HX  Sociology
J Political Science  
K Law  
L Education  
M Music  
N Fine Arts  
P Language and Literature  
Q Science  
R Medicine  
S Agriculture  
T Technology  
U Military Science  
V Naval Science  
Z Bibliography and Library Science  

The organization of material in an archive is very different from that found in a library. An archive houses records which document the activity of an organization, institution, or agency. The records go directly from the creating agency to the archive and are maintained exactly as they were created. They have 'organic unity.' There is no intermingling of records from one record group to another and the context of the records is maintained. To find a particular record, you must learn in what record group it is maintained, hence the need for an archival finding aid, such as the Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States.

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