The Dewey team received a question from a translator some time ago regarding one of the new numbers for municipalities of South Africa. We thought the answer would be helpful as a general illustration of how to read history notes in a number record. We first made history notes viewable in WebDewey on the default page for a record as part of some enhancements about five years ago; you can also view history notes in the MARC record for a number, in field 685.
The question we received concerned T2—6849 uThukela District Municipality, located in South Africa’s Kwa-ZuluNatal province. It’s a good example because it has multiple history notes. When more than one history note is associated with a number, the notes are ordered top to bottom from most recent to oldest. Here’s how it appears in WebDewey:
The order of the notes indicates that while T2—6849 was discontinued in Edition 21, it is now active in Edition 23. The districts named in the more recent history note show where some of this geographic area was covered in the meantime. (When used in Edition 21, T2—6849 represented KwaZulu in apartheid South Africa. After apartheid, KwaZulu was merged with the old province of Natal, forming the modern KwaZulu-Natal.)
The MARC record display in WebDewey of the two history notes is:
685 31 $t Bergville district, Estcourt district, Kliprivier district, Weenen district $i all formerly located in $b T2--6847 $d 20160224 $2 23
685 12 $i Number discontinued; class in $a T2--684 $d 1997 $2 21
The first indicator of the first 685 note is 3, which indicates that number is reused after being vacated. Both notes also have a subfield 2 that indicates the edition in which the change was made. But remember that the topmost note is the most recent. You’ll see “Number discontinued,” but this one’s perfectly valid in the current edition.