The eye prophetic: Julia Pettee

Christopher H. Walker, Ann Copeland

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Julia Pettee, best known for devising the Union Theological Seminary classification system while head cataloger for thirty years at that library, was a pioneer in the field of cataloging codes, classification, and subject theory. She was a strong advocate of specialized tools for special collections, and her writings encouraged other librarians to consider whether the large-scale systems then in the process of development (Cutter Expansive, Dewey, Bliss, and the Library of Congress system) really suited the needs of their patron communities. She recast the universe of knowledge from the point of view of the theologian for a classification system adopted by more than fifty libraries, and her extensive writings and publications contributed greatly to the formulation of the modern academic library catalog. The article examines Pettee's most important writings and speeches, identifies the principles of cataloging and classification she championed, and surveys contemporary standards to trace her continuing influence in current practice and theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)162-182
Number of pages21
JournalLibraries and the Cultural Record
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Conservation
  • History
  • Library and Information Sciences


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