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The Ethics of Language in Cataloging

The language we choose to use matters, and archives and museums can help do their part by using empowered, person-first language to reflect a viewpoint that is ethical, modern, and ultimately more humanizing. 

In our latest blog post, Chicago History Museum librarians Elizabeth McKinley and Gretchen Neidhardt outline how Research Center staff have been updating the language describing our holdings. Using the principles of critical cataloging, they have begun evaluating the keywords, subject headings, and summary descriptions used to identify items by and about marginalized and colonized groups, including African Americans, Indigenous peoples, and members of the disability community. Read more.

CHM librarian Elizabeth McKinley (left) in the stacks during the CHM Members’ Open House, June 2019. Photograph by J. Keener Photography

The Research Center holds the printed material, archives and manuscripts, prints and photographs, architectural drawings, and assorted ephemera of the Chicago History Museum. While it is currently closed, a number of resources are available online, such as the CHM Image Portal, the Encyclopedia of Chicago, and Chicago History magazine. Learn more.

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