The subject classification of James Duff Brown

James Duff Brown (1862-1914) was an influential librarian in Great Britain in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. His Subject Classification has characteristics that were unusual and idiosyncratic during his own time, but his work deserves recognition as one of the precursors of modern bibliographic classification systems.


Beghtol (2004a) discusses a number of theories and classification practices that Brown developed. In particular, she investigates his views on the order of main classes, on the phenomenon of "concrete" subjects, and on the need for synthesized notations. It traces these ideas briefly into the future through the work of S. R. Ranganathan, the Classification Research Group, and the second edition of the Bliss Bibliographic Classification Systen. It concludes that Brown's work  warrants further study for the light it may shed on current classification theory and practice.





Beghtol, C. (2004a). Exploring new approaches to the organization of knowledge: The subject classification of James Duff Brown. Library Trends, 52(4), 702-718.


Beghtol, C. (2004b). The subject classification of James Duff Brown (1862-1914). ASIST SIG/CR: Providence, RI.







Birger Hjørland

Last edited: 18-06-2006