lIS-5703 a4
Dr. Michelle Kazmer
H. Richmond Ackerman
April 24, 2003

tree branch etching

dewey decimal classification






Skim introduction, written by Godfrey Dewey at Lake Placed Club in 1951. Skim preface, skim editor’s introduction. Review 10 top categories; decide that 9, “General geography and history and their auxiliaries” works. Thus we are in 900 – 999.

Learn “area” concept: digits ‘73’ stand for U.S.; 973 is Am. History; thus Am. Geography is 917.3.

Read next section of book, “How to use Dewey”. It says to skim all the Areas. Then I find that I should “class comprehensive works in - - 74” the region code for Northeastern US, New England, Middle Atlantic, east of Mississippi, which is the region I code I want. So I guess that gives me 917.374.

However, Book 2, Schedules, says 917 is North America, add areas (region code) notation 71-79 to base number 91. Then to the result add as instructed under 914-919. So, 91 + 74 is 917.4. The schedule under 914-919 has categories:

02 physical geography
03 man and civilization
04 travel
06 ethnic
09 regions in general

Since it was about travel, explaining the US to Europeans, I’ll go with 04. So 917.4 + 04 is 917.404.

Then it says to add historical period (without zero) from subdivisions 930 – 990. Historical period 04 is 1800 – 1900 so without zero that would be “4”. 917.404 + 4 = 917.4044.

I cannot reconcile 917.374 and 917.4044; they both seem logical following different paths through the maze.

Comparison with existing records:

WorldCat is the only place I can find with DDC and they offer up a rich smorgasbord of possibilities: 769.43763, 917.3, 917.4, and 971.3.

The first WorldCat record I examine has 769.43763 for the 1971 reprint of American Scenery. 769 = prints; 769.4 = by subject; 769.43 = nature and still life. This corresponds with the WorldCat DDC for the 2000 reprint of the etchings; clearly they considered the etchings primary. Trying to decode the --763 failed; the local reference librarian thinks it was because of the age of the DDC I was using.

Separate entries for Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, the originals, are each listed at 917.3.

A first edition set, Vol1 and 2, are at 917.4.

A Canadian microfiche version is placed at 971.3.

The Canadian National Library has a catalog entry for a reproduction at DDC 917 with the primary LCSH “Canada – Description and travel”. This is interesting, since, according to the map in Part 30, they never entered Canada.

WorldCat seems to be a mess, with 18 different entries for this book, but closer examination reveals multiple editions:

Barre, MA: 1971
London 1840
London 1972
London 1840 (Vol I)
London 1840 (Vol II)
New York, 1870 (Martin)
New York, 1870. Vol 1 on microfilm
New York, 1870, Vol 2 on microfilm
London, 1857
London, 1840 (French translation)
Tokyo, 1997
Boston, 1882 (excerpts)
New York, 1800-1899? Yorston
Troy, NY, 1882 (excerpts)

Duplicates include:

London, 1840 (one book only, but it doesn’t say which volume it is)
London, 1840 (note field indicated missing title page)
London, 1840 (only 96 pages)
London, 1840 (note added title page)
New York, 1800-1899 (note added title page)
London, 1840 (unique description: 2 v. en 1 ; quarto.)


Dewey, M. (1971) Dewey decimal classification and relative index. Edition 18, Volumes 1-3. Lake Placid, N.Y.: Forest Press, Inc.