Seattle City Clerk Thesaurus - Introduction

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This thesaurus is used in indexing and retrieving documents filed with the Seattle City Clerk's office. It shows the relationships between concepts used in subject classification and the term used to represent each concept.


The collection of terms in this thesaurus has been designed to permit clear indexing and classification of records in the Seattle City Clerk's office, but it is of limited scope. Subjects dealt with most completely are those having to do with the main activities of City government. For example, public works, transportation, and housing are each a main focus of City activities, so there are many terms present to permit specific indexing. Geographical concepts are also an emphasis; terms are included for most Seattle neighborhoods and for major geographic features. Topics which are included in only the briefest way (i.e. few terms) are those which only indirectly relate to Seattle City government's activities.

Parts of the Thesaurus

This thesaurus consists of two main parts. The first is the subject classification, which shows the relationships between subject terms in outline form. The classification displays a hierarchical arrangement of broader and narrower terms and shows the conceptual scheme used in classifying documents. Geographic names other than those for neighborhood districts are not included in the subject classification.

The second part of the thesaurus is an alphabetical list of terms. It contains both the approved subject terms and other words people commonly use to describe City activities. This part of the thesaurus gives the approved subject term to use in place of unapproved "lead-in" words. Approved or authorized indexing terms are shown in bold type. The entry for each main term includes references to broader, narrower and related terms. Some terms also have short definitions, or scope notes.

A code in the form "AB 0123" follows each main term in the alphabetical list and precedes each term in the hierarchical subject classification. This notation allow a user to find the location of a term in the hierarchy.

How to use

A document is indexed with the most specific terms which describe its contents as a whole. For example, an ordinance dealing with telephone taxes should be indexed with the term Utility taxes, not Taxes. Likewise, when searching for information on a topic, the term chosen should be as close to the specific topic desired as possible. There is no limit on the number of terms which may be used to index an item. In fact, it is expected that more than one term will usually be necessary to fully express the concepts reflected in a document.

When using the thesaurus for retrieval of documents from the Clerk's Office SEARCH system, multi-word terms must be "bound" together with hyphens. For example, the multi-word term Pioneer Square is stored in the database as PIONEER-SQUARE. To retrieve documents indexed with this term it is necessary to link the words with a hyphen; the term may be entered upper or lower case, however.


use	Use the preferred term given here.

uf	Used for the alternate word for the concept.

bt	Broader terms describe things or ideas more
	generally than the main term. For example,
	Water transportation is a broader term
	to Ferries.

nt	Narrower terms describe more specific concepts
	For example, Horses and Railroads are
	both narrower to Land Transportation.

rt	Related terms are words which have meaning similar
	to the main term, or which are useful reminders of other
	places to look.For example, Personnel administration

	is a related term to Employment.  Fort Lawton
	and Discovery Park are related terms because they
	occupy the same site.

Development and Revision

This thesaurus was first developed in 1993. It is based on a thesaurus used by the King County Archives, which was in turn modeled on the conceptual scheme of The Urban Information Thesaurus (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1977). Terms and concepts specific to Seattle city government were taken from the manual indexes of the City Clerk's office, the Seattle Municipal Archives list of subject terms, and subject indexes formerly maintained by the Government Research Assistance Library branch of the Seattle Public Library. The Guide to the Archives of the City of Seattle (Seattle, 1988) was a particularly rich source of information on the history of city agencies.

The thesaurus contains 1713 authorized terms and 601 lead-in or unauthorized words. The thesaurus is maintained in electronic form as part of the City Clerk's indexing system to the City of Seattle's legislative records, using the thesaurus module of BRS/Search software. This thesaurus will be updated as needed.

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