s Thoughts from the Physics Chick: Cat. & Reference: Serial complications

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Cat. & Reference: Serial complications

When you're cataloging serials, it's nice to have a volume/issue numbers and a date for every issue. The volume/issue numbers let you know if you're missing any issues and can help you figure out the frequency of publication. The date can be used as a volume number, if necessary, or just to indicate the general timeframe of the materials in question.

I've been cataloging a lot of serials lately for our special collections department, but yesterday I ran across a serial with dates that left me perplexed. Here are the issues we own of the journal "Tale Feathers":

vol. 1, no. 1 - Year of the Thunderbird, Great Spirit Moon
vol. 1, no. 2 - Year of the Thunderbird, Melting Snow Moon
vol. 1, no. 3 - Year of the Thunderbird, Promise of Nature
vol. 1, no. 5 - Year of the Thunderbird, Strawberry Moon

It helps to know that "Tale Feathers" is a journal of Wabanaki culture and literature, so the dates are presumably traditional Wabanaki dates. Which is all very well and good, but I need to be able to translate that into standard Gregorian calendar dates that our patrons and our catalog system can interpret. (I should clarify that I have no intention of replacing the traditional dates with the Western ones, rather, I'll add the Western dates in brackets, for clarification. It would, after all, be an ironic gesture of colonial arrogance to impose the white man's numbering system on a journal celebrating Indian culture.)

I've seen charts which give equivalents for Hebrew or French Revolutionary years, but googling "Year of the Thunderbird" just gives me results about cars. Happily, the postmark on the fifth issue is legible and reads Jun 15, 1977, which gives me a year to work with, and a good guess at the date for that issue.

Given that several dates include the word "moon," I assume that this was a monthly publication, which means that I could count back from the 5th issue to estimate a start date of February 1977. However, the Wabanaki probably counted in lunar months, which means that their months wouldn't exactly match up to ours. I'm not sure exactly when the Wabanaki lunar month starts, but this website says that Jun 16, 1977 was a new moon. If the publication of each issue was tied to the new moon, then the first issue would still have been published in February, but closer to the end of the month.

I also found this page, which gives names for the Abenaki months (the Abenaki being one of the tribes in the Wabanaki confedration). Unfortunately, the translations don't really match up with what I have, so I can't draw any firm conclusions.

If anyone out there can give me more concrete information about the Wabanaki calendar, I'd be happy to hear it.


At June 15, 2008 11:36 PM, Blogger Th. said...


Not me.

Not that that's surprising.

But still:



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