Superintendent of Documents Classification System
History of the Government Printing Office.
The printing of proceedings of Congress done by many private firms.
1818 Congressional Committee recommended creation of a Government printing office.
1818-1860 Private commercial printing of government documents filled with corruption, patronage, profiteering and waste.
1860 Printing Act of 1860 created the office of Superintendent of Public Printing and established the ground rules for that department.
March 4, 1861 Government Printing Office opened the same day as Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration.
1869 Office of Superintendent of Public Documents was established in the Department of the Interior.
1876 The title of the chief officer was changed to Public Printer and the position was to be filled by presidential appointment with advice and consent of the Senate.
1890 Over 1,800 people employed at the Government Printing Office (GPO), the "largest printing office in the world."
1875 Chief Justice of the Supreme Court ruled on GPO’s position in the federal government by writing that the Public Printer seemed to be in a department of his own and even though he is part of the executive branch he is more responsible to Congress.
1895 The Printing Act of 1895 transferred the Superintendent of Documents (with this new name) to the GPO. The Superintendent had control of areas of bibliographic control and sales and the Public Printer was responsible for printing documents.
1932 The Comptroller General stated that the GPO was part of the legislative branch and, even though appointed by the president, it is answerable to Congress.
1962 Public Printing Act of 1962 major changes were made in the department, including changes in the depository program.
1967 Mergenthaler Linotype Company and CBS laboratories created the ‘Linotron’, a high-speed electronic phototypsetting device.
1969 A second Linotron system helped reduce departmental costs to such a degree the GPO was self-sustaining.
1975 Project started to supply some government documents on microfiche "in addition to or in lieu of printing."
1977 The Public Printer testifies that 85% of cost of publication is in the typesetting. Trend is toward decentralization and 13 regional offices have contracts with commercial printers.
1979 Public Printing Reorganization Act of 1979 established the GPO as an independent agency governed by a board of directors. The Public Printer and the Superintendent of Documents were given equal status with one responsible for printing and one responsible for distribution.
Superintendent of Documents
The Superintendent of Documents (SuDocs) was given the mission to store, catalog, index and distribute Government publications.
1895-98 A ‘Library’ collection of one copy of every document received for cataloging or indexing developed.
1895-1903 SuDocs classification system established and the first explanation of it given by William Leander Post. Credit for the concept was given to Adelaide R. Hasse who developed the system to assign numbers to the Department of Agriculture’s list of publications.
1903-Present Even though this alphanumeric classification of items by issuing organization has expanded over the years, it has remained true to the principles on which it was based.
- 1898 The quasi-status of a Public Documents Library changed with official recognition of it as one of the division’s 6 operational units.
- 1898-1951 This reference library has developed into one of the largest collection of US Government publications in the world. It is stored in archival boxes in SuDocs classification order. Which is handy since it has moved from the sixth floor of the Union Building in Washington, DC to the National Archives to a converted Washington department store to the Federal Record’s Center in Maryland and back to the National Archives.
Alphanumeric notation based on provenance (place of origin) in which the publications of each department, bureau, agency, and office are grouped together under the same letter/number code. In this way all publications by a specific government department would be grouped together regardless of subject matter.
- Start with the letter assigned to the first level agency (always use a capitol)
- Skip a space (a space must be inserted between letters and numbers unless there is intervening punctuation) and add the number assigned the second level subordinate office followed by a period.
- The parent agency is always #1 and then numbers 2-99 are used, except in the case of agencies so large, such as Defense, where sub-agencies are listed (101=Army, 102=Navy, 103=Air Force)
- If it is necessary to break the agency down to the 3rd and 4th level use 100 and 1000 numbers.
C 1 = Commerce Department (level 1)
C 55 = National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (level 2)
C 55.100 = National Weather Service (level 3)
- If a third or fourth level office is not expected to issue many publications it may be treated like a series.
A 13 = Forest Service
A 13.40/1: = Southern Forest Experiment Station (Annual Report)
- Next comes the number designating the series or series title or the category of publication, followed by a colon. (convert Roman numbers to Arabic numerals)
- The following numbers are reserved for categories of publications commonly issued by most government offices:
.1 Annual Report
.2 General Publications (a ‘last resort’ category)
.3 Bulletins (title must contain this word)
.4 Circulars (title must contain this word)
.5 Laws (reserved for agencies with the right to issue laws)
.6 Regulations, rules and instructions
.7 Press releases (announcements issued to the news)
.8 Handbooks, manuals, and guides (title must contain one of these words)
.9 Bibliographies and lists of publications
.10 Directories (title must contain this word)
.11 Maps and charts
.13 Forms (only for forms and instructions for filling them out)
- The class stems for publications of Congressional agencies are often constructed differently from those constructed according to the general principles.
- X = Senate and House Journals
- Congressional Record is X period followed by the number of the congress, a slash, the session number, and then a colon. ( X.99/1: )
- House Journal is XJH and Senate Journal is XJS ( XJH:100-2/PT.1 = Journal of the House of Representatives, 100th Congress, 2nd session, part 1)
- Y 1 = Other publications of the Congress, House, and Senate as a whole.
- Y 1.1: = Congress as a whole
- Y 1.1/3 = Senate Documents (numbered)
- Y 1.1/7 = House Documents (numbered)
- Y 1.2: = House publications
- Y 1.3 = Senate publications
- Series abbreviations and numbers printed on the publications are used instead of Cutter numbers.
- Y 3 = Publications of boards, commissions, and other temporary committees.
- Y 3.L 61: National Commission on Library and Information Science
- Y 3.L 61:1 Category designations follow the colon in this case of an annual report. (for 1989 the number would be: Y 3.L 61:1/989)
- Y 4 = Publications of House and Senate committees.
- The agency designation for committees consists of a Cutter number based on the first significant word in the committee’s name. ( Y 4.W 36: = Ways and Means)
- Add /1 for House and /2 for Senate if both sides have committees with the same name. (House and Senate publications intermixed on the shelf)
- The agency symbol assigned to the President is PR followed by the succession number (PR 41 is for George Bush, 41st President)
- Presidential committees are always .8: and this would be followed by a Cutter number based on the committee name, slash, and a Cutter number based on the title.
- Serials vs. Series.
- A Serial is any publication which is issued on a continuing basis, has a title that does not change frequently, and has some means of identifying individual issues, such as volume number, issue number, of coverage date.
- The number for a serial consists of the date or volume and the issue number.
- A Series can be identified by a common title that is assigned continually to a group of publications. Each publication also has a unique title, which often covers a single topic.
- The series number appearing on the publication is preferred over any other designation. (an unnumbered series is Cuttered)
- Use the C. A. Cutter’s Two-Figure Author Table to create a unique letter/number designation for each item. Use the 3-figure table as a last resort. Cutter the first significant word that denotes the subject.
- There is an assigned Cutter number for each state.
- Separate category or series classes are not assigned in the Y 4. Classes.
- When a serial number does not include the number of the Congress it is added after the colon, followed by slash, then serial number.
- Y 4.J 89/1:97/54 = Congressional number added
- Y 4.B22/1:97-95 = Congressional number was incorporated into the serial number.
GP 3.2:El 2/2 Electronic Capabilities of Federal Depository Libraries
= Government Printing Office (issuing agency)
- 3 = Superintendent of Documents (subordinate office)
- .2: = General publication (publication type)
- El 2/2 = Individual title (El is a key word in the title)
J 1.14/7: 983 Uniform Crime Reports
- J = Department of Justice (issuing agency)
- 1.14 = Federal Bureau of Investigation (subordinate office)
- /7: = Reports (publication type)
- 983 = 1983 (individual year)
L 2.3:264 Bulletin #264
- L = Labor Department (issuing agency)
- 2 = Labor Statistics Bureau (subordinate office)
- .3: = Bulletins (publication type)
- 264 = No. 264 (individual number)
Differences in classification systems:
Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) = subject arrangement (browsable)
Very hierarchical and depends on "number" building
Library of Congress (LC) = subject arrangement (browsable)
SuDocs = provenance arrangement (limited browsing)
Depends on issuing agency
Title: Federal firearms regulations reference guide : (formerly "Your guide to" federal firearms regulations).
Published: <Washington, D.C.> : Dept. of the Treasury, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms : <For sale by the U.S. G.P.O., Supt. of Docs., 1995>
Alternate title(s): Your guide to federal firearms regulations
Subjects, general (s=):
Firearms--Law and legislation--United States--Handbooks, manuals, etc.
Firearms--Taxation--Law and legislation--United States Handbooks, manuals, etc.
Other author(s), etc.:
United States. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.
Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC):
= Social Science
- 4 = Labor, social science, education, cultural law
- .73 = Geographic code for the United States
- 05 = Police services, other aspects of public safety
- 33 = Control of explosives and firearms
Library of Congress (LC):
- F = Law of the United States
- 3941 = Public Safety, Weapons. Firearms. Munitions (3941-3942)
- .A29 = Statutes. Regulations. Rules of Practice Federal Legislation.
Superintendent of Documents (SuDocs)
- 70 = Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.
- .8: = Handbooks, Manuals, and Guides.
Author: Wolanin, Barbara A. (Barbara Ann)
Title: Constantino Brumidi : artist of the Capitol / prepared under the direction of the Architect of the Capitol by Barbara A. Wolanin.
Published: Washington : U.S. G.P.O., c 1998.
Subjects, general (s=):
Brumidi, Constantino, 1805-1880--Criticism and interpretation.
Mural painting and decoration, American--Washington (D.C.)
Mural painting and decoration--19th century--Washington (D.C.)
Mural painting and decoration --Conservation and restoration--Washington (D.C.)
United States Capitol (Washington, D.C.)
= The Arts
- 5 = Painting and Paintings
- 9 = Historical and Geographic Treatment
- 237 = United States, special artist (Table N5)
- .B877 = Cutter of individual artist (Table N6-Biography and criticism .x8A-.xZ)
- Y 1.1/3: = Numbered Senate Document
- 103-27 = 103rd Congress-publication # 27
This sits on the shelf between an appropriations request for the Department of Defense and a publication about the United States Capitol.
Page was created by Jane Anne Carey in 11-98 and updated on 08-06-02
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