Nineteenth-Century Depictions of Disabilities and Modern Metadata: A Consideration of Material in the P. T. Barnum Digital Collection (The Journal of Contemporary Archival Studies)

The Library of Congress subject headings have been examined in the past for their classification of subjects relating to race, gender, and sexuality. Overlooked is subject headings that relate to disabilities. In the course of creating records for the archival and object material that form the P.T. Barnum Digital Collection, the project discovered the imperfections of the Library of Congress subject headings, and the need to develop standards and protocols for the material.

This resulted in a balance of language that respects the preferences of living communities and their best practices, and the existing language in the Library of Congress, while also engaging with the complex nuances of disability theory. The issues encountered raise questions regarding classification, contemporary language, and the best way forward for archival institutions.

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