LOC Classifications for African Diaspora Foodways Collections (& general foodways collections)

I’ve been thinking about and pulling together what I consider to be useful classifications for materials related to the study of food. African American and general African Diaspora foodways and related history always frame these types of things for me, because that’s just my bag. Anyway, I’ve been dropping these LOC numbers into one spot for awhile now and I’m finally pulling it all together. I know I’ll revisit and refine but this is the first step. From here I can start to think more about where to go with underrepresented collections. 

My strongest interests in food are African Diaspora foodways and related culture and Middle Eastern foodways. And I’m really interested in the idea of adapting archival documentation strategy to collection building. For food in particular, I think this means applying that multi-disciplinary nature of food studies to the creation of library collections that focus on non-European culinary history and culture. Because I’ll tell you, no matter what y’all food studies academicians may think, some of y’all can’t see beyond Europe to save y’alls lives. I’ve been to many a lecture, panel, gathering of food folks only to see people deemed experts with books and articles published, etc. say the most asinine, neocolonial, bullshit you can imagine. But that is another post.

I have this dream of people thinking beyond cookbooks (and Europe or China or Japan or tacos when they want to get “ethnic”)* when they think about food. I want to help users in a range of institutions view food beyond cake pop recipes, The Food Network, or worse, racist foolishness such as this. I guess I dream of people wanting to understand or at least think about, or at the very least maybe vaguely recognize the historical, sociological, and economic contexts of what they eat. This is maybe a tall order without a well-constructed plan of attack, but honestly, foodways is a great way to teach and learn about the world, so by offering patrons information that places food within these contexts, maybe it is a possibility.

These classifications can be used for all types of food-related materials, I think they’re particularly useful for building collections that document non-European foodways of any sort. They are also useful for filling in the gaps of Euro-focused collections. What I’m saying here is that a good, strong foodways or food studies collection should have something relevant that fills each slot represented by the classification numbers below.

Anyway, on to the numbers, I am going to break this up into two or three posts because I realized that there’s a lot. I’m going to start with Anthropology and Folklore classifications. In cases where things don’t seem obvious, I’m highlighting what I consider relevant to documenting African Diaspora foodways in a library or archival collection.

* [seriously so much to say about this bull, but this is not the time or place]


GN301-674 Ethnology. Social and cultural anthropology
GN357-367 Culture and cultural processes
Including social change, structuralism, diffusion,
Ethnology. Social and cultural anthropology – Continued
GN378-396 Collected ethnographies
GN397-397.7 Applied anthropology
GN406-517 Cultural traits, customs, and institutions
GN406-442 Technology. Material culture
Including food, shelter, fire, tools, etc.


GR700-860 Animals, plants, and minerals
GR880 Medicine. Folk medicine 


GT2400-3390.5 Customs relative to private life Including children, marriage, eating and drinking, funeral customs, etc.
GT3400-5090 Customs relative to public and social life Including town life, court life, festivals
GT5320-6737 Customs relative to special classes (social)