Cataloging the Prints and Photographs Division Collections

Most of the Prints and Photographs Division's cataloging is considered "minimal level," because information is often limited to what is provided with the picture rather than what could be learned by fully researching the image. The following comments explain the general cataloging guidelines followed by the Prints and Photographs Division, as well as some specific guidelines related to cataloging the Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii Collection. The comments also point out which catalog record information is most useful for citing pictorial materials in research notes or publications. Since the original information accompanying a picture can be inaccurate, the Division is always glad to hear from researchers who have additional or better information.

The records for a single collection, such as the Prokudin-Gorksii Collection, might not use each of the fields or have all of the indexing features described here. For general information about cataloging pictorial materials, see the Visual Materials: Processing & Cataloging Bibliography (http://lcweb.loc.gov/rr/print/resource/vmbib.html)

Cataloging the Prokudin-Gorskii photographs: Most of the information provided in the catalog records came from hand-written Cyrillic captions in the albums. Dates, when not provided or inferred through textual information, were given as a range reflecting the time period of Prokudin-Gorskii's work with color separation glass negatives: [between 1905 and 1915].

The card number is a unique identification number for each catalog record. It can be noted to cite a specific record and then used for a quick number search when you want to display a specific record later without repeating a long keyword or subject search. However, only some online catalogs provide an index by this number.

This string of letters and numbers is used to locate the original material at the Library of Congress. Although P&P has a unique system of call numbers rather than the Library of Congress classification system, the call number is still a useful reference citation. The patterns of letters and numbers vary from one kind of material, or filing series, to another. The call numbers for the Prokudin-Gorskii photographs are represented as:

• LC-P87-7280 (a glass negative)
• LOT 10332, no. 1 (a print in an album)

When the name of an artist, photographer, architect, printmaker, or other image creator is known, only one form of the name is used, so that it is possible to retrieve all works by one creator under a single spelling or form of the name. If the form of the name has been established in the Library of Congress Name Authority File, that is the form used. Birth death dates are included only when such information is readily available and the form of the name has not already been established in the LCNAF. If the Library of Congress form of the name was established while the creator was still alive, a death date is not usually added when the creator dies. It is expensive to update such information, and the name is already uniquely identified in the catalog. The absence of a creator's name indicates that the creator is anonymous, unidentified, or unknown.

After the name, a term is given identifying the relationship(s) between the name and the being cataloged. For example, architect, artist, copyright claimant, photographer, or publisher.

Prokudin-Gorskii's death date has been published erroneously as 1943 in several books and articles. Recent information from his descendants confirmed that he died in 1944.

A title is transcribed from information on or with the original picture, or from a photographer's logbook or negative jacket. If the picture carries no caption, a title is devised from another source and displayed in brackets. Devised titles are written by Library staff, or they might come from a published book illustration or a former owner. The source of devised titles is usually given in a note.

The abbreviations "[sic]" and "[i.e.]" indicate erroneous spellings or information in transcribed titles. The correct information is provided as needed in the title or a note. The designation "[...]" indicates that one or more words on the original item cannot be deciphered.

For the Prokudin-Gorskii Collection, most titles are transliterated (romanized) transcriptions of hand-written Cyrillic captions in the albums. An English translation of the title is also provided. Some of the diacritics in the Russian titles may not display in the Web. Diacritics were dropped in the translated English titles to simplify legibility and keyword searching in the Web environment.

The transliteration scheme is the same one used by the Library of Congress in all of its cataloging, so that the Prokudin-Gorskii photograph descriptions can be searched together with all the Library's books, sound recordings, maps, and other holdings created in Russian. For example, the characters "ii" and "ia" are more likely to be used instead of the single letter "y." Searching under a variety of spellings may be helpful for finding a particular name.

Example: Prokudin-Gorskii, instead of Prokudin-Gorsky

Names of places, buildings, and institutions have been added in brackets to clarify individual titles that were comprehensible within the context of an album page layout but are cryptic outside of the album setting.

The English translations stay as close as possible to the language and spellings that Prokudin-Gorskii provided in order to represent his view of the world and his time period, ca. 1905-1915. The subject headings, however, use the current form of place names and groups of people.

For example, Prokudin-Gorskii described the "Mariinskii Canal System." The subject headings use the current place name "Volga-Baltic Waterway." The title has "Samarkand;" the heading has "Samarqand."

Library of Congress
(April 11, 2001)