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University of Utah Library Guides

Metadata - Assigning Subject Headings and Names: Looking up Personal Names

A short overview of how to use the Library of Congress Name and Subject Authorities to assign headings in EAD files

Personal Names

When making an entry a person, whether the author of a work or a subject of the work, the heading will have an inverted form--last name first.  First, check the name authority file.  If name is not found, construct a new heading.

For example, you are describing a diary belonging to Rudolf Stockseth

Tip: Make sure to change the search type to Name Authority

You find a reference to

Stockseth, Rudolph Martinius Jensen, 1881-1943

Rudolph Stockseth


Rudolph Stockseth name authority record

The birth dates and death dates match up with the collection you are describing, so copy and paste into the creator and subject fields.


If you don’t find a match for the personal name in the name authorities , compose it in the following format:

[Last name], [First name], [birth year if available]-[death year if available]

One may find different versions of how a name is expressed, such as with full first and middle names, versus a nickname and middle initial.  Choose the form of name that is most commonly used by an author or about a subject person.


Examples –constructing headings in name authority format:


For our (fictional) example of a Mormon pioneer named Hans Anderson, we look up the name in the authority file.  You will find a match for the name that is from the right time period:

hans andersen

But (depending on what information we have about our person in the EAD) we may decide it’s a different person.  We will want to make a new heading.

Wrong Hans Andersen

When you know the birth date and death date of your person of interest:

            Andersen, Hans, 1835-1895

When you know the birth date but not the death date:

            Andersen, Hans, 1835-

When you know only the death date

            Andersen, Hans, -1895

Tip: Don’t automatically assume the person is the same one as found in the existing name authority. 

Tip:  If an existing heading lacks dates, and you don’t have dates for your person either, a little Google searching may uncover at least one date, birth or death.

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