Guide to the Research Collections
SOCIOLOGY, STATISTICS, POLITICAL SCIENCE
The subjects classed under sociology in the Billings Classification Schedule reflect the broader interpretation of the term current in the early 1900s. These subjects (with economics, history, anthropology, and associated fields) are now considered subdivisions of the social sciences. The sociology subgroups in the Billings Classification Schedule are:
Providence (insurance, savings, pensions, etc.)
Societies and associations
Crime and punishment
Woman and children
The approximately 215,000 volumes in these fields form one of the stronger collections of the Research Libraries. The collecting policy has been comprehensive from the beginning. As early as 1877, James Carson Brevoort, in his annual report for the Astor Library, stated that sociology
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(or the social sciences) was a field of knowledge upon which the library should make one of its chief expenditures.1
Since that time rich historical materials have been gathered and extensive files of current publications have been maintained.
The holdings of journals and other publications of social organizations and institutions are outstanding, but most important are such source materials as public documents (national, state, and municipal) and the reports of nongovernmental institutions here and abroad.
The subjects represented vary in strength. In part this reflects the selection policy of the library. For example, the holdings on public health are comparatively strong in their sociological aspects, but are inadequate for certain types of extensive research because of the lack of works on medicine. Of the special language materials, those in the Slavonic Division are the most important: both books and periodical literature relating to social theory and tendencies are held in strength.
The inclusion in the card catalog of index entries for periodical articles on sociological subjects, long an important feature of the library's resources, is now of less importance because of the increase in the number of published indexes which cover specific aspects of the field. After 1965 indexing became very selective.
Many of the important collections have come to the library by gift. Among these are various manuscript collections treating the subject of women, among the most important being the Schwimmer-Lloyd collection portraying the progress of the feminist movement during the first forty years of this century as represented in letters, files of source documents, leaflets, pamphlets, and books. The library also received the papers and books of Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt. The William Jay Gaynor memorial collection fund is one of the funds used for the purchase of books on sociology, economics, and the science of government.2
The library has notable book and manuscript materials on Mayor Gaynor and his epoch.
The Economic and Public Affairs Division has the major responsibility for collecting in the field of sociology, although the greater part of the materials are shelved with the general collections. The Economic and Public Affairs Division gives reference service in this field, but limitations in shelf space and seating accommodations dictate that many questions must be handled by the General Research and Humanities Division. Books in this class are extensively consulted in the Main Reading Room, where they are supplemented by general treatises and reference works held on the open shelves. The distinction made in the reference work of the two divisions is not so much one of subject as of the nature of particular inquiries. A request for one or several books on a subject, or an inquiry which can be answered from sources on hand or from the Public Catalog, is generally handled by the General Research and Humanities Division; a question that requires specialized resources or guided research is ordinarily referred to the Economic and Public Affairs Division.