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Art History Research Resources: LC Call Numbers and Subject Headings

What are call numbers and subject headings?


Library of Congress call numbers and subject headings are what we use to organize books at ZSR.  The call number system allows us to organize the books by subject area and gives us an "address" where the book should be shelved.  The subject headings describe what the book is about.  Each book has only one call number, i.e. it can only be shelved in one place, but it can have as many subject headings as are needed to describe the contents of the book.

Art History Subject Headings

Each book in the online catalog also contains Library of Congress subject headings, which can help you locate books on a similar topic.  Click on the subject heading in the online catalog to go to a list of books that share that subject heading.  Some examples are:

  • Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945) in art
  • Performance art
  • Art and society
  • Aesthetics
  • Art criticism United States history 20th century
  • Istanbul (Turkey) Buildings, structures, etc.
  • Illustration of books, Great Britain 19th century
  • Modernism (Art)
  • Painting, Renaissance Flanders

The names of individual artists, works of art, museums or buildings are also included as subject headings:

  • Morris, William, 1834-1896 Influence
  • Last Supper in art
  • Gosudarstvennyi Ermitazh (Russia)
  • Lincoln Memorial (Washington, D.C.)

Art History Call Numbers

Most art materials have N call numbers and are shelved on Reynolds 6.  The N section is divided by medium:

  • N- Visual Arts
  • NA- Architecture
  • NB- Sculpture
  • NC- Drawing, Design, Illustrations
  • ND- Painting
  • NE- Print Media
  • NK- Decorative Arts
  • NX- Arts in General

These broad categories are broken down further by time period, movement, subject or artist:

  • ND615- Painting-Italian Renaissance
  • ND553 M37- Matisse, Henri
  • N6465 I4- Impressionism
  • NK1700-2138- House Decoration, General, Special Rooms
  • NA190-1555.5- Architecture, History
  • NX440-632- History of the Arts

There are several other call number areas that might be useful for doing research in the arts:

  • TR- Photography
  • PN1560-3300- Performing Arts, Drama, Theatre, Film
  • ML- Music History and Criticism
  • GV1580-1799.4- Dance

Historical and Cultural Resources

While your research will concentrate primarily on Art History resources, you may need information from other disciplines to fill out the historical, cultural or topical background of your project.  The following call number areas will be useful, depending on your topic:

  • B-Philosophy, Religion
    • BR-Christian History
    • BS-Biblical Studies
  • D-General and World History
    • DA-British History
    • DG-Italian History
  • E-American History
    • E169.1-American Popular Culture
  • P-Language and Literature
    • PN-Theatre, Television, Film
    • PR-British Literature
    • PS-American Literature
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