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| by Kaitlin Buerge

Special Collections

Photo of book in Stonewall Exhibit, Christine Jorgensen: A Personal Autobiography
Our copy of Chrisine Jorgensen: A Personal Autobiography, currently on exhibit.

Until last week, the record for Christine Jorgensen’s autobiography had one subject heading: “Sex change.”

This means that despite the fact that Jorgensen was a transgender woman, and the first American to become widely-known for having sex reassignment surgery, you wouldn’t find her autobiography at Middlebury if you searched the catalog for “transgender.”

Preservation Manager Joseph Watson asked Cataloger Marlena Evans if the Library of Congress had perhaps updated their subject headings to reflect current terminology used to represent the transgender community.

Thanks to Marlena’s diligence, we now know that Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) include a number of terms (at least 47!) that we can use to catalog works by and about members of the transgender community. Marlena has also updated other records in Special Collections with new subject headings (see below!).

Screenshot of more inclusive subject headings in MIDCAT

If you’ve ever wondered about those clickable subject headings in library catalog records, they are anything but arbitrary. The Library of Congress maintains a thesaurus of controlled, precise subject headings that catalogers and librarians all over the United States assign to their holdings and use to find works about similar topics.

Researchers use these too! You can click any one of the headings in a record and find similar and related works.

If you are interested in Jorgensen and other writers in the LGBTQ+ community, be sure to check out our current exhibit: Before and After Stonewall: Queer Stories Throughout American History.

Questions? Email specialcollections@middlebury.edu