H 830 Geographic Subdivision


BACKGROUND: The term (May Subd Geog), generated by the presence of the value i in field 008/06 in the subject authority record (the box labeled Indirect/direct geographic subdivision on the 008 input screen in the LC ILS), appears after many subject headings in Library of Congress Subject Headings to indicate that the heading may be subdivided geographically according to the rules and conventions provided in this instruction sheet.


However, in the past, some phrase headings were established in the form [topic] in [place], and geographic aspects of those topics were brought out by that method rather than by geographic subdivision. In 1981, that practice was discontinued, and headings of that type were converted to the form [topic] (May Subd Geog). For example, Slavery in Africa, [Brazil, Jamaica, etc.] was converted to Slavery (May Subd Geog).

Geographic subdivisions appear in the MARC record as $z subfields of 6XX fields. In many cases, the name of a larger geographic entity is placed in one $z subfield followed by the name of a more specific locality in a second $z subfield, as in the heading


650 #0 $a Taxation $z California $z San Francisco


This technique is sometimes described as assigning the place name indirectly, or indirect subdivision. In other cases, the geographic subdivision is assigned in a single $z subfield without interposing another $z subfield containing the name of a larger geographic entity, as in the heading


650 #0 $a Taxation $z Washington (D.C.)


This technique is sometimes described as assigning the place name directly, or direct subdivision.


Prior to 1976, certain subject headings were designated as always being divided directly and others were designated as always being divided indirectly. In November 1976 this mixed practice was discontinued in favor of a standard system that applies to all subject headings that are authorized to be divided geographically.


The current practice evolved especially during the years 1974-1979 as follows: In 1975, it was decided that all newly created headings would be divided indirectly with the exception of legal headings and those headings established with a geographic qualifier equivalent to the name of a country, for example, Art, French. In 1976, it was decided to begin assigning indirectly the name of any region now wholly within a modern country, regardless of its past history, for example, assigning Tuscany indirectly through Italy. In 1976, after comments were invited from other libraries and an overwhelmingly favorable response was received, many anomalies in indirect subdivision practice, including the treatment of the first order divisions of Australia, Austria, France, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands, were eliminated, and the former Soviet Union was added as a fourth country to receive special treatment in indirect subdivision practice in addition to Canada, Great Britain, and the United States. (With the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1992, the list of countries receiving special treatment was reduced again to three.) Simultaneously, subject catalogers were instructed to begin dividing all subject headings indirectly, regardless of the coding of the headings in the then-current 8th edition of LCSH. In 1979, a computer program was run against the database that generates Library of Congress Subject Headings to change all headings coded (Direct) to (Indirect) to prepare for the publication of the 9th edition. When AACR2 came into effect in 1981, changes prescribed in the rules for qualification of certain headings, such as place names in England, Malaysia, etc., had no effect on indirect local subdivision practice. When the subject authority file was converted to the USMARC format in 1985, the notation (May Subd Geog) replaced the notation (Indirect). This notation first appeared in LCSH in the 11th edition, published in 1988.


No attempt has ever been made to update the Library of Congress bibliographic database systematically in order to eliminate instances of subject headings having been divided according to previous rules during the years before 1976. Bibliographic records are updated only on an individual basis if the subject headings are being reviewed for other reasons, for example, when a new heading is being assigned to an existing record, or a geographic name is being updated to AACR2 form.

In February 1999 the Library of Congress implemented the 781 field for recording the geographic subdivision form of geographic headings in authority records for geographic names. For instructions on including this field in new subject authority records, see H 836. For instructions on adding this field to existing name authority records for geographic headings, see H 835. For instructions on adding this field to existing subject authority records, see H 836.


1. General provision. When a heading is coded (May Subd Geog), subdivide it directly by names of continents, regions larger than countries, countries, the provinces of Canada, the constituent countries of Great Britain, or the states of the United States.

As a general rule, subdivide to subordinate localities located wholly within a country by interposing the name of the relevant country between the heading and the name of the subordinate locality. Subordinate localities include:


àsubordinate political jurisdictions, such as provinces, districts, counties, cities, etc.

àhistoric kingdoms, principalities, etc.

àgeographic features and regions, such as mountain ranges, bodies of water, lake regions, watersheds, metropolitan areas, etc.

àislands situated within the territorial limits of the country in question


Note: When interposing the name of a country in this manner, use its name in the form in which it is established in the name authority file.


For exceptions to this general rule, see sec. 5. below.



650 #0 $a Music $z Switzerland $z Geneva.

650 #0 $a Explorers $z Australia $z Moreton Bay District (Qld.)

650 #0 $a Law $z Spain $z Navarre (Province)

650 #0 $a Archaeologists $z Greece $z Aegina Island.

650 #0 $a Transportation $z Italy $z Rome Metropolitan Area.

650 #0 $a Plant breeding $z Ethiopia $z Simen Mountains Region.


Divide historic kingdoms, former jurisdictions, extinct cities, etc., that lie wholly within a modern jurisdiction through that jurisdiction. Examples:


Heading: Leon (Kingdom)

Subdivision usage: 650 #0 $a Taxation $z Spain $z Leon(Kingdom)


Heading: Jaipur (Princely State)

Subdivision usage: 650 #0 $a Nobility $z India $z Jaipur (Princely State)


Heading: Carthage (Extinct city)

Subdivision usage: 650 #0 $a Elephants $z Tunisia $z Carthage (Extinct city)


Include no more than two levels of geographic subdivision, using the country (or the first order political division in the case of the three exceptional countries discussed in sec. 5.a., below) as the collecting level. Examples:


650 #0 $a Law $z Spain $z Pamplona.

[not 650 #0 $a Law $z Spain $z Navarre (Province) $z Pamplona.]


650 #0 $a Education $z New York (State) $z Buffalo.

[not 650 #0 $a Education $z New York (State) $z Erie County $z Buffalo.]


Do not divide topics geographically to a level lower than that of a city, town, etc. Instead, assign additional headings to bring out entities and features in cities, including archaeological sites, parks and gardens, streets and roads, city sections, etc. Example:


650 #0 $a Tourism $z California $z San Francisco.

651 #0 $a Chinatown (San Francisco, Calif.)

[not 651 #0 $a Tourism $z California $z Chinatown (San Francisco)]


2. Latest name. When subdividing locally, use the latest name of any entity whose name has changed during the course of its existence, regardless of the form of the name or period covered in the work cataloged. Example:


Title: The banks of Leopoldville, Belgian Congo. 1950.

650 #0 $a Banks and banking $z Congo (Democratic Republic) $z Kinshasa.


3. Use of present territorial sovereignties. Subdivide geographically according to present territorial sovereignties of existing nations, even for works covering earlier periods of time.


In the case of a region or jurisdiction that existed in the past under various sovereignties, interpose the name of the country now in possession, as long as the region or jurisdiction is now located wholly within that country. Example:


Title: The present status of education in Alsace. 1910.

650 #0 $a Education $z France $z Alsace.


4. Metropolitan areas and city regions. Except for Jerusalem Metropolitan Area, New York Metropolitan Area, and Washington Metropolitan Area, assign metropolitan areas as local subdivisions through the jurisdiction in which the city proper is located, even if the metropolitan area spreads over more than a single country (or first order political division in the case of Canada, Great Britain, and the United States).


5. Exceptions.

a. Canada, Great Britain, and the United States. Do not interpose the name of the country when using the first order political divisions of the following three countries as geographic subdivisions:







Great Britain

Constituent countries

United States




Subdivide these entities further, if required, by names of counties, cities, or other subordinate units. Examples:


650 #0 $a Music $z Ontario $z Toronto.

[not 650 #0 $a Music $z Canada $z Toronto.]


650 #0 $a Sports $z England $z London Metropolitan Area.

[not 650 #0 $a Sports $z Great Britain $z London Metropolitan Area.]


650 #0 $a Education $z California $z San Joaquin Valley.

[not 650 #0 $a Education $z United States $z San Joaquin Valley.]


Note: When interposing the name of a state or province in this manner, use its name in the form in which it is established in the name authority file. For example, use Wyoming [not Wyo.]; Washington (State) [not Wash.]; Québec (Province) [not Québec].


b. Inverted headings for regions. Use inverted headings in which country names (or names of first order political divisions in the case of the three countries listed in sec. 5.a., above) are qualified to designate specific regions, directly after topics. Examples:


650 #0 $a Nutrition surveys $z Italy, Southern.

[not 650 #0 $a Nutrition surveys $z Italy $z Italy, Southern.]


650 #0 $a Hot tubs $z California, Southern.

[not 650 #0 $a Hot tubs $z California $z California, Southern.]


c. Regions larger than countries. Use the name of any jurisdiction or region that does not lie wholly within a single existing country (or first order political division of the three exceptional countries listed in sec. 5.a. above), directly after topics. Such jurisdictions or regions may include:


àthe names of the three exceptional countries listed in sec. 5.a. above

àhistoric kingdoms, empires, etc., for example, Holy Roman Empire

àgeographic features and regions, such as continents and other major regions, bodies of water, mountain ranges, coasts, etc., for example, Europe; Great Lakes (North America); West (U.S.); Mexico, Gulf of; Rocky Mountains; Nile River Valley; Atlantic Coast (South America).


Retain the geographic qualifier, if any, when using such headings directly after topics. Example:


650 #0 $a Concentration camps $z Pomerania (Poland and Germany)


Use such headings according to their full geographic extent. Do not use them indirectly through a locality to indicate partial geographic coverage in a work being cataloged. If it is necessary to bring out a locality, assign an additional heading. Example:


Title: Birds of the Colorado Rockies.

650 #0 $a Birds $z Rocky Mountains.

650 #0 $a Birds $z Colorado.

[not 650 #0 $a Birds $z Colorado $z Rocky Mountains.]


d. Cities assigned directly after topics. Assign the names of the following cities directly after topics: Jerusalem (see H 980); Washington (D.C.) (see H 1050). Examples:


650 #0 $a Performing arts $z Washington (D.C.)

650 #0 $a Taxation $z Jerusalem.


Note: Since Vatican City (see H 1045) is treated as a country rather than as a city, it is also assigned directly after topics without interposing the name of a larger geographic entity.


e. Islands. For the treatment of islands in geographic subdivision practice, see H 807.


f. Antarctica. Divide entities on the continent of Antarctica or within the Antarctic regions through Antarctica. Example:


650 #0 $a Geology $z Antarctica $z Weddell Sea Region.


6. Deletion of qualifiers. If the heading for the locality being brought out as a geographic subdivision has as its qualifier the same name as the country or division through which it is being subdivided, delete the country or division name from the qualifier of the locality, even if it is abbreviated, in order to avoid redundancy. Retain in parentheses any other data included in the qualifier to differentiate the heading, including names of obsolete jurisdictions. If no further data remain within the parentheses, delete the entire qualifier. Examples:


Heading: Paris (France)

Subdivision usage: 650 #0 $a Art $z France $z Paris.


Heading: Seattle (Wash.)

Subdivision usage: 650 #0 $a Education $z Washington (State)$z Seattle.


Heading: Saint Louis Metropolitan Area (Mo.)

Subdivision usage: 650 #0 $a Minorities $z Missouri $z Saint Louis Metropolitan Area.


Heading: Matabeleland (Southern Rhodesia)

Subdivision usage: 650 #0 $a Gold mines and mining $z Zimbabwe $z Matabeleland Southern Rhodesia)


Heading: Grass Valley (Lander County and Eureka County, Nev.)

Subdivision usage: 650 #0 $a Trees $z Nevada $z Grass Valley (Lander County and Eureka County)


Heading: Clear Lake (Iowa : Lake)

Subdivision usage: 650 #0 $a Eutrophication $z Iowa $z Clear Lake (Lake)


Heading: Clear Lake (Steuben County, Ind. : Lake)

Subdivision usage: 650 #0 $a Eutrophication $z Indiana $z Clear Lake (Steuben County : Lake)


Heading: Sydney (N.S.W.)

Subdivision usage: 650 #0 $a Architecture $z Australia $z Sydney (N.S.W.)


Heading: Colca River (Arequipa, Peru)

Subdivision usage: 650 #0 $a Stream measurements $z Peru $z Colca River (Arequipa)


Heading: Tibet (China)

Subdivision usage: 650 #0 $a India $x Relations $z China $z Tibet.


Heading: Pacific Coast (Peru)

Subdivision usage: 650 #0 $a Zoology $z Peru $z Pacific Coast.


Heading: Veracruz-Llave (Mexico : State)

Subdivision usage: 650 #0 $a Land reform $z Mexico $z Veracruz-Llave (State)


Heading: Sibirskiĭ kraĭ (R.S.F.S.R.) [a jurisdiction that existed only during the period of the Soviet Union]

Subdivision usage: 650 #0 $a Minorities $z Russia (Federation)$z Sibirskiĭ kraĭ (R.S.F.S.R.)



7. Headings that include the name of a place. Some subject headings include the name of a place as part of the heading, or are qualified by the adjectival form of a place name, for example, Indians of Mexico; Coins, Greek. Divide these headings in the normal manner to bring out places other than the one named in the heading. Examples:


650 #0 $a Coins, Greek $z United States.

650 #0 $a Coins, Greek $z France $z Paris.


Divide by the place named in the heading only if it is necessary to bring out a locality within that place as a further subdivision. Examples:


650 #0 $a Indians of Mexico $z Mexico $z Jalisco.

650 #0 $a Coins, Greek $z Greece $z Athens.

[not 650 #0 $a Indians of Mexico $z Mexico.


650 #0 $a Coins, Greek $z Greece.]


8. Celestial bodies. Do not use names of celestial bodies as geographic subdivisions except where they are authorized as such in the subject authority file, for example, Artificial satellites–Jupiter (Planet). To bring out a topic in connection with a celestial body, use established phrase headings or topical subdivisions under the name of the body. Examples:


650 #0 $a Lunar petrology.

[not 650 #0 $a Rocks $z Moon.]


651 #0 $a Mars (Planet) $x Geology.

[not 650 #0 $a Geology $z Mars (Planet)]


9. Ecclesiastical entities that are also names of places. Under AACR2, individual ecclesiastical entities, such as dioceses, provinces, synods, etc., are established as corporate bodies. They are usually established as subheadings under the name of the main religious body, for example, Catholic Church. Diocese of Basel (Switzerland), but some may be established directly, for example, Constantinople (Ecumenical patriarchate). Do not treat such headings as geographic entities in subject heading practice. Do not use them as subdivisions, and do not subdivide them by subdivisions used under geographic headings. If it is necessary to designate a topical subject in conjunction with an ecclesiastical entity, assign multiple headings: the name heading for the ecclesiastical entity plus the topical heading subdivided by the closest equivalent geographic heading and/or the closest equivalent geographic heading subdivided by topical subdivision.


10. Content designation of geographic subdivisions. Names of places, when used as geographic subdivisions, are normally assigned the subfield code z, as illustrated in the examples above. When used as topical subdivisions after subject headings or subdivisions that are divided by topic rather than place, however, they are used in the form in which they are established as headings and are assigned the subfield code x. Examples:


600 10 $a Shakespeare, William, $d 1564-1616 $x Knowledge $x Greece.