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The ABCs of Subject Headings

Staff members of the VRC use subject headings from different thesauri to describe the collection’s images. Subject headings can be combined to create complex and precise searches, gathering together all available resources on a particular topic. Some of the thesauri we use? The Getty Art and Architecture Thesaurus (AAT), the Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names (TGN), and, of course, the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH), just to name a few. We are often surprised by the variety of subject headings available and how frequently we expand our own vocabulary.

Just for fun, we’ve compiled the ABCs of subject headings – a list of our favorites, one for every letter of the alphabet. We have also listed some of our favorite runners-up. Try doing a subject search in ARTstor or LUNA for one of these topics, or click on the links below to see search results from our collection. You might discover something new and surprising, or at the very least, entertaining.

Our Favorites:

Abandoned buildings
Break dancing
Credulity
Diseases in Art
Electronic surveillance
Fingernails
Ghouls and ogres
Headrests
Identity (Philosophical concept) in art
Jugglers
Kissing
Labyrinths in art
Musical instruments – handbells
Newspaper vendors
Older people
Predation (Biology)
Quarreling
Ruins in art
Self-perception
Truck stops
Underwater cinematography
Ventriloquism
Women cleaning personnel
X-rays
Yurts
Zodiac

Runners-up:

Arm Wrestling
Canned meat
Drooling
Elopement
Future in art
Glaciers
Human sacrifice
Infrared photography
Leeches
Moving walkways
Nightmares
Osiers
Staircases
Yawning

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