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

Art & architecture thesaurus

The Art & Architecture Thesaurus (AAT) contains a consistent, controlled vocabulary ordered in a faceted, hierarchical structure. Designed for use in a wide variety of applications, this is an ideal thesaurus for describing American Scenery.

This section describes the construction of precoordinate and postcoordinate subject phrases using the AAT vocabulary, following methodologies described by A. Taylor in Chapter 6, "Books and Other Bibliographic Materials" (p. 101-119) and by A. Willis in Chapter 8, "Visual Resources," of Guide to Indexing and Cataloging with the Art & Architecture Thesaurus. (Peterson & Barnett, 1994).

Local policy dictates the depth of indexing required. Subject analysis is typically performed at a summary level, while indexing attempts to provide a more comprehensive set of access points for many subtopics and sub-themes. For this assignment, I have struck a balance, generating overall subject headings for the book, subject headings for a specific print, and a large but incomplete set of index terms suitable for postcoordinate use. Representative terms are generated, but no attempt at completeness is made or claimed.

Identify concepts (book)

1. Examine title, subtitle, table of contents, internal index.

The title: American scenery; or, land, lake, and river illustrations of transatlantic nature. From drawings by W. H. Bartlett, engraved in the first style of the art, by R. Wallis, J. Cousen, Willmore, Brandard, Adlard, Richardson, &c. The literary department by N. P. Willis, Esq. author of “Pencillings by the Way,” “Inklings of Adventure,” etc.

Emphasizes geographic elements and water forms; emphasizes visual presentation of data.

The Table of Contents lists the titles of the essay/etching pairs: each entry consists of an etching and an associated essay; they share a title. Listings include many natural locations (lakes, rivers, mountains) along with man-made features (monuments, buildings, waterworks, mills, telegraph stations, etc.)

2. Examine preface, chapter subheadings, opening phrases of chapters, and paragraphs.

The Preface illustrates the dual nature of the publication, with separate sections about the illustrations and the prose.

The etchings are designed to bring the natural beauty of the United States to Europeans. The splendor of America is compared favorably to Switzerland.

The prose is designed to bring lesser-known stories of American history to the audience: "the legendary traditions and anecdotes, events of the trying times of the Revolution, Indian history, &c. &c."

Essay generally begin with a written reflection upon the splendor of the natural vista portrayed in that topic's illustration. There is usually at least one paragraph on nature before an essay is diverted into historical anecdote. This emphasizes again that the descriptive (visual) aspect of this work is meant to be primary.

3. Examine illustrations and their captions.

The illustrations reconfirm the essence of this work as a piece of descriptive geography; all of the illustrations are titled with place names, and the one map traces the route taken during the travels covered in the book. Place-names of described towns are underscored on the map.

4. Construct a sentence giving analysis of what this book is about.

American Scenery contains 120 etchings portraying places of scenic beauty in post-Revolutionary America, with accompanying essays that often add historical perspective to the illustrated scene.

5. Identify names (except geographic names) used as subject concepts.

George Washington is probably the most oft-mentioned name. Benedict Arnold, Governor Clinton, Henry Hudson, General Howe, Lord Cornwallis, and a wide variety of other people from this historical time are mentioned in the essays. There are no portraits among the etchings, though, so none of these would be considered a main subject.

6. Identify geographic names used as subject concepts.

Unlike the situation with the names of people, geographic names are used as titles for essays and etchings. The geography is limited to New England and Middle Atlantic states. A representative but not exhaustive list of geographical names include:

Faneuil Hall, Boston
Cemetery of Mount Auburn
Northamton, Massachusetts
Coldspring
Mount Ida
Troy, New York
Glenmany (N.P. Willis's first estate)
Washington Monument, Baltimore
Catskill, New York
Brooklyn, New York
Staten Island, New York
Susquehannah River
Owego, New York
Schuylkill Waterworks, Philadelphia
Passiac Falls
Northumberland

7. Identify chronological elements

The book was published in 1840.

Many essays discuss events of the American Revolution and the Indian Wars.

The time period covered then is roughly 1770-1840.

8. Identify form of the item in hand

30 parts, 4 etchings per part, one essay per etching.

Identify index terms to be used from AAT and LC authority files. (book)

1. Create a list of concepts that need to be expressed.

river travel
river boats
landscapes
landscape painting
canal boats
steam ships
public buildings
public monuments
mountains
Hudson River
Susquehannah River
American Revolution
Indian Wars
Benedict Arnold
George Washington
Henry Hudson
prints
etchings
essay
travel guide
waterfalls

2. Search the AAT to find preferred AAT terms to match the concepts above.

Styles and Periods facet

Romantic (FL)

Activities facet

history (KD)
wars (KM)
intaglio (KT)

Objects facet

waterfalls (RD)
mountains (RD)
rivers (RD)
public buildings (RK)
<public buildings by function> (RK)
<public buildings by location or context> (RK)
<water distribution structure> (RK)
historical monuments (RK)
steamboats (TX)
sailing vessels (TX)
riverboats (TX)
landscapes (representations) (VC)
prints (VC)
essays (VW)
travel guidebooks (VW)

3. Search the LC authority files for names listed above.

George Washington
Benedict Arnold
Governor Clinton
Henry Hudson
General Howe
Lord Cornwallis

Faneuil Hall, Boston
Cemetery of Mount Auburn
Northamton, Massachusetts
Coldspring
Mount Ida
Troy, New York
Glenmany
Washington Monument, Baltimore
Catskill, New York
Brooklyn, New York
Staten Island, New York
Susquehanna River
Owego, New York
Schuylkill River Reservoir
Passiac Falls
Northumberland

4. Submit candidate terms for new concepts

I have no candidate terms to submit.

5. Build modified descriptors or strings based on guidelines in AAT Application Protocol, Chapter 3.

For postcoordinate application, the authoritative names listed above could be used.

For precoordinate application, the following reverse facet order strings would provide overall descriptions of the book:

Prints -- intaglio -- Romantic

Travel guidebooks -- United States -- 1840

Essays -- history -- United States

"Romantic" is facet number three: Styles and Periods.
"intaglio" is facet five: Activities
'prints" and "travel guidebooks" are facet number seven: Objects

Visual Resources Cataloging (Image)

Collectors and institutions also hold individual prints cut from the book and sold singly. Indexing pictures individually requires analysis of the aboutness of each picture. The methodology described for evaluation of images is different from that for bibliographic material. Bold terms are AAT vocabulary.

My evaluation of the etching mentioned earlier, "Lake Winnipisseogee, from Red Hill" follows.

1. Physical analysis

a. type of object: (etching)
b. maker - painting: (William Henry Bartlett)
c. maker - engraver: (Robert Wallis)
d. date of production: (1837-1839)
e. style or period: (Romantic)

2. Content analysis

a. title: (Lake Winnipisseogee, from Red Hill)
b. location: (Lake Winnipesaukee, NH, Red Hill, NH)
c. people: (Native American)
d. objects: (bows (weapons), arrows, sailing vessels)
e. symbolic or thematic significance: (wars)

The discussion of the use of AAT for image content description did not include anything on string construction; it may be that one does not use AAT in this manner. In fact, the rules allow only one object facet and it would be misleading to say that, for instance, one had a bows(weapons) object when in fact one had an etching of one, rather than the thing itself. A general string could describe the etching:

Prints -- intaglio -- Romantic

but that does not address the content beyond indicating a style. I'm afraid this is beyond my rather limited knowledge of AAT!

 

References

Petersen, T., & Barnett, P. (1994). Guide to indexing and cataloging with the art & architecture thesaurus. New York: Oxford University Press

Richardson, E.P. (1965). Painting in America. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company