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University of Utah Library Guides

Metadata - Assigning Subject Headings and Names: Subjects

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

Adding Subject Headings

Suppose you are describing a pioneer diary from 1860 by a Mormon immigrant named Hans Andersen from Norway.

Possible  subject headings for this item could center on Mormons, the Church, Norway, Immigration, Mormon Pioneers, Westward migration, Norweigan Americans.

Start looking up the possible subject headings in the Library of Congress name authorities:

Mormon pioneers

Be sure to choose Subject Authority Headings if you are looking for subject headings. The results screen will look like this:


Mormon Pioneers results

When you see the red “authorized & references” button, you can click on that link to view more information.

Click on Authority Record to view more:

Verify that what you are reviewing is a true subject authority heading and not a title (which would have a 130 tag rather than a 150).


Since you are dealing with a diary, use the heading :

Mormon pioneers--Diaries

To represent Immigration, look that up next:

Entry for Immigration

Click where it says “References” to look up additional terminology:

Immigration authority record and references

See how “Emigration and immigration” is a heading, but it can also be used as a subheading "for works on migration across national borders from a particular place, and/or migration across national borders to a particular place.” (This statement comes from the authority record.)

In this case, since the pioneer was traveling to and settled in Utah, we could use the heading:

Utah--Emigration and immigration

Look up Norwegian Americans

Norwegian Americans

You can construct the heading

Norwegian Americans—Diaries

You can then look up the Mormon church and find a heading to copy like:

Mormon Church--History--19th century--Sources


Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints--History--19th century--Sources

Other common subheadings you will find useful, depending on the format of the object that was scanned:

  • Correspondence (for letters)
  • Archives (a general term that can include miscellaneous papers associated with a person or corporate group
  • Photographs
  • Interviews (useful for transcripts of oral histories)
  • (Unfortunately, there are not  similar authorized subheadings for movies and other audio-visual materials)

Tip:  If you are describing something and get stuck on what subject terms to use, try finding similar items in Alma or Worldcat to get ideas for subject headings.

Tip:  If you have access to OCLC via Connexion, you can use its authority search functions to find subject headings. The search there is even more powerful than the LC authority website, since it looks for keywords anywhere in the heading, whereas your searches at LC only match with the first words of the headings.

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