Yale Collection of Western Americana


The Yale Collection of Western Americana (WA) was opened in September 1952 and contains books, periodicals, manuscripts, photographs and prints that document the history and culture of Native American communities as well as the European and American exploration, settlement, and development of the Trans-Mississippi West from Mexico to the Arctic Circle. For more information see the Guide to the Collections. The general cataloging policies for monographs and serials are followed.


The size boundaries for WA books and serials shelving at 121 Wall St. are:

up to 25 cm high
up to 23 cm wide
between 25 and 37 cm high
between 23 and 32 cm wide
Folio (Class in Year/number folio sequence with location code beinwa):
over 37 cm high
over 32 cm wide

The maximum size restrictions for material shelving at LSF can be found on the Guide for Materials Going to 121 document. Use octavo call numbers for all items shelving at LSF.


The following guidelines are used when marking volumes in WA:

  1. Mark on Yale bookplate when there is one, generally in the upper left corner.
  2. Mark on back cover, lower right hand corner, when there is no Yale bookplate unless cover is too dark.
  3. Mark on verso of last page, lower right hand corner, when 1 or 2 don’t apply. The lower left hand corner is the alternate location when the lower right hand corner is unusable.
  4. If the last page is unmarkable (e.g. too dark or shiny or filled with text or illustrations), mark the verso of the first usable page from the end.

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Monographs | Broadsides | State documents | Promotional materials | Serials

  • Past practice encompasses a variety of approaches; some books in the collection are not classified according to the instructions given here. Generally, do not reclassify unless necessary for collocation. See the Historical manual for details of past practice.
  • Folios shelving at 121 Wall St. use the year/number scheme with the location beinwa.
  • Use  “L” for “l” in call numbers.
  • Quarto call numbers shelving at 121 Wall St. are indicated by the addition of a plus sign (+) before the book number (usually the last line) of the call number.
Outline of Classification
Zc10 - The West Zc52 - Texas
Zc12-16 - Indians Zc54 - New Mexico
Zc17-19 - Railroads Zc56 - Arizona
Zc20 - Mississippi-Missouri Valley Zc58 - Utah
Zc22 - Louisiana Zc60-67 - Mormons
Zc24 - Arkansas Zc69 - Nevada
Zc26 - Missouri Zc70 - Pacific Coast
Zc29 - Iowa Zc72 - California
Zc31 - Minnesota Zc74 - Oregon
Zc33 - North Dakota Zc78 - Washington
Zc35 - South Dakota (including Dakota Territory) Zc82 - British Columbia
Zc37 - Nebraska Zc84 - Hawaii
Zc39 - Kansas Zc86 - Alaska
Zc41 - Oklahoma (including the Indian Territory) Zc90 - Canadian Northwest
Zc43 - Montana Zc91 - Canadian provinces and territories
Zc45 - Idaho Zc95 - Belles-lettres
Zc47 - Wyoming Zc96 - Belles-lettres by location (A-Z by state)
Zc49 - Colorado Zc99 - Frontier East of the Mississippi
Zc50 - The Southwest  

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Monographs - General guidelines

WA classification is primarily subject oriented by topic or geographic area and then chronological by date of first edition.

  • The first line of the call number is from the “Old Yale” classification scheme where “Z” meant rare material and the letter “c” was chosen to represent Western Americana. The number following Zc indicates the subject of the item.


Zc10 Work about the West
Zc72 Work about California
Zc19 Work about a specific railroad
  • The second line, or “book number,” is the last three digits of the date of the first edition followed by the first two letters of the main entry in lowercase (except use capital “L”). If there is a conflict add the letter “z” following the first two letters of the main entry and then create a third expansion line consisting of 2 digit sequential number between “01” and “99”; starting with “01.”
  • Under certain classification numbers, such as Zc16 or Zc19, an additional cutter is used as the second line, with the “book number” being the third line.
  • Beginning in 2000, for books first published after 1999, use all four digits of the date for the second line, followed by the first two letters of the main entry.
  • If the date of publication is either a probable decade or a century add zeros. (E.g. 187-? use 870 or 18–? use 800). If the estimated date spans a decade use the initial date. (E.g. [between 1874 and 1888?] use 874). If the date is a corrected date, use the corrected date.
  • Lower case letters “b”, “c”, “d”, etc. are added to signify a second, third, fourth, etc., edition or other subsequent editions. If a third expansion line is used, the letters are added following the number: “01b”, “01c”, etc.
  • Letters “e” and “f” from the table for translations usually may be used as edition letters also, since polyglot editions and Latin translations are rare, at least for modern books; if the original edition is in English, “g” may be safely used as an edition letter for an English language work.
  • Translations are indicated by adding the appropriate language letter from the following table. Editions of translations are arranged by adding edition letters after the translation letter with no attempt made to keep editions of a particular translator together. Translations into Indian languages class with the specific language (Zc15).
  • The letter “a” is reserved for supplements, indexes, etc. that class with the original.
  • The letters “x” and “y” are used for commentaries, criticisms, etc. of a particular work.
  • The letter “z” is used for expansion (as described above).
  • The book number should be unique for each work and/or manifestation. It is therefore necessary to use either a truncated search, or search both with and without the plus sign, to determine if there is a conflict. It is not necessary to search using the broadsides call number prefixes ($k) as they are not indexed as part of the call number.
  • Class selections and extracts of a work as well as compilations of smaller works as new titles, not as later editions of the original. Show the bibliographic relationships in notes and/or tracings.
  • Class music with the appropriate geographic area (e.g., The West, California, Minnesota, Canadian Northwest) or subject (e.g., Mormons, Indians, Railroads). If this is not possible, class in Zc95.


Bolitho, Edwin. Pocket mining atlas, c1880.

Zc10 Work which relates to the West in general
880bo Year of publication of the first ed. followed by first two letters of main entry

Booth, George. Frontier folk, c1880.

Zc10 Work which relates to the West in general
880boz Year of publication of the first edition followed by the first two letters of the main entry and a “z” to allow for expansion
01 Expansion line

Farnham, Thomas Jefferson. Travels in the great western prairies, 1843. (First published in 1841.)

Zc10 Work which relates to the West in general
843fab Year of publication of first edition followed by the first two letters of the main entry and “b” to indicate a second edition

Booth, George. Frontier folk, 1882. Second edition.

Zc10 Work which relates to the West in general
880boz Year of publication of the first edition followed by the first two letters of the main entry and a “z” to allow for expansion
01b Expansion line and “b” to indicate second edition

Gass, Patrick, 1771-1870. Tagebuch einer Entdeckungs-Reise durch Nord-America, von der Mundung des Missuri an bis zum Einfluss der Columbia in den Stillen Ocean … Weimar, H.S. privil. Landes-Industrie-Comptoirs, 1814.

Zc10 Work which includes a description of travel in the west
807gan Year of publication of the first edition followed by first two letters of main entry and “n” to indicate a German translation

Schroeder, Elena. My trip to Oregon, 2020.

Zc74 Work about Oregon
2020sc Year of publication of the first ed. is after 1999 followed by the first two letters of main entry
Table of language letters
f Polyglots, Latin
g English
h French, Provencal
j Italian
k Spanish, Catalan
L Portugese, Romansh (Raeto-Romance), Romanian
n German
p Dutch, Flemish, Afrikaans
q Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Icelandic
r Greek
t Celtic, Gaelic, Irish, Breton, Welsh, & etc.
u Lithuanian, Bohemian (Czech), Polish, Russian, modern Bulgarian, Uralic-Altaic, Finnish, Hungarian, Turkish, Croatian, Serbian, Basque, and other Eastern European languages not specified elsewhere
v Armenian, Albanian, Slovene
w Indo-Iranian, Sanskrit, Persian, Semitic, Chinese, Japanese, Hebrew, Yiddish, Arabic, Vietnamese, Thai, Burmese, Korean, Indian (including Malayan, Bengali, etc.)

There are several exceptions to the above guidelines. For details see the sections on Belles-lettres (including belles-lettres about states), Railroads, Indians, Mormons and Mormonism, the Canadian provinces, and the Frontier east of the Mississippi.

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Broadsides include not only single sheet items but also 2-4 page pieces that are housed in broadside folders. Broadsides are classed in the same manner as monographs but have an additional line at the beginning of the call number to indicate broadsides. There are two broadside call numbers for Western Americana, BrSide4o, and BrSides. Refer to the Call number document for directions on inputting call numbers into Orbis. Refer to the Broadsides document for information about the various sizes of Western Americana broadside folders and how to mark the folders and items.

State documents

For constitutional conventions and constitutions, as well as for official state and territorial government documents, use the “A” numbers according to the following table. Do not use for federal or local government publications.

  Territory State
Constitutional conventions * A51-A52
Constitutions * A53-A55
Session laws A16 A56
Public laws A17 A57
Revised compiled statutes (by date) A19 A59
Compilation of laws by subject A21-A24 A61-A64
Combined legislative journals A25 A65
Upper house A26 A66
Lower house A27 A67
Other publications of legislatures    
Combined A275-A279 A675-A679
Upper house A28 A68
Lower house A29 A69
Governor’s inaugural addresses A31 A71
Governor’s annual/biennial message A32 A72
Other A33 A73
Other agencies (arrange alphabetically if possible) A33-A34 A73-A96

*Ordinarily these categories will not be used under territories, the acts of Congress organizing the territory being arranged by imprint date.


California. State Dairy Bureau. Report of the State Dairy Bureau …  Sacramento.

Zc72 Work which relates to California
A91 A for state document and 91 since it was issued by a state agency

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Promotional materials

Promotional materials follow the same guidelines for classing as other items in WA.

Promotional material is often undated. Sometimes it is not easy to estimate a specific year of publication. For promotional material datable only to the decade, construct a call number consisting of the WA class and the decade with the last two letters “pr” (for promotional material”), followed by the next sequential number.


Mt. Lowe. Los Angeles : Pacific Electric Railway, [190-?]

Zc72 Work which relates to California
900pr Decade of the 1900s, “pr” for promotional material
1 First item cataloged in the 1900s decade in California

Sutter Board of Trade. A snap-shot sketch of Sutter County California and its unparallel resources. Yuba City, Calif. : Yuba City Press, [190-?]

Zc72 Work which relates to California
900pr Decade of the 1900s, “pr” for promotional material
2 Second item cataloged in the 1900s decade in California

These classification numbers will be set up under each geographic region and decade. If there already is a call number with “pr” following the decade, reclass the item. Do not search for, or recatalog, items already cataloged that could be classed here.

Make a genre tracing, following the guidelines in Form and Genre Headings.

655   7 ‡a Promotional materials. ‡2 lcgft


The book number for serials is based loosely on the Cutter tables. The number consists of a cutter number for the first non-article word of the main entry. The number is adjusted so that the main entry is placed within correct alphabetic sequence, if possible. The book number should be unique for each serial. It is therefore necessary to search both with the plus sign, and without, to determine if any adjustment is needed. A serial that has changed titles may use the call number of the earlier title. For classification of Army regulations see: WA Army regulations.

Subjects and special Tracings

Subject cataloging follows national standards with the exceptions noted below.

  • In general, subjects will be assigned more freely for books in the Western Americana Collection than LC might call for in order to make accessible to the fullest the great amount of specialized information concentrated in the collection.
  • Indians of North America. Although LC no longer routinely makes the subject tracing Indians of North America ‡x[subheading] when the subject [name of indian tribe] ‡x[subheading] is made, we will continue to do so for BRBL. For example if the subject heading Cherokee Indians ‡v Pictorial works is made, also make the subject heading Indians of North America ‡v Pictorial works. If appropriate use a geographic subdivision first (except in the case of ‡x Wars and ‡x Government relations).
  • Imprint tracings. Make the appropriate American and Mexican imprint tracings.
  • Ethnic literature. Make the appropriate ethnic literature tracings.
  • Provenance. Make the appropriate provenance tracings.
  • Chronology tracings. Make the appropriate chronology tracings.
  • Include other Beinecke special tracings as appropriate.


Past practice

Imprint classes:
In the Zc classification there are obsolete numbers for imprints under each state. In 1957 these numbers were abandoned. There are still many books in these classes and will be until they are reclassed. These numbers were originally used to keep early imprints of a given state separate from other historical material. They were given up for several reasons, the chief ones being separation of historical material belonging to the same area, the separation of editions because the first edition is classed as an imprint and later editions in the historical class, and the difficulty in establishing the terminal point beyond which nothing will be considered an early imprint, especially when this terminal point varies with each state. The American imprint tracing has been a satisfactory substitute in making available information on where and when books were printed.

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