Nomenclature: Now Available Online!

By Heather Dunn, Canadian Heritage Information Network

Nomenclature for Museum Cataloging is a standard for classifying and naming objects in cultural collections.  For over 40 years, the print version has been used by museums and heritage organizations.  The Nomenclature Task Force of the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH), the Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN) and Parks Canada are therefore pleased to announce a new bilingual, illustrated online version.

The Nomenclature website is the most up-to-date version of the Nomenclature standard and includes:

  • the entire Nomenclature 4.0, as published in 2015 by Rowman & Littlefield;
  • a complete French version, with terms provided by Parks Canada and CHIN;
  • terminology, definitions and illustrations from a complementary standard, the Parks Canada Descriptive and Visual Dictionary of Objects;
  • a bibliography to help museums find additional resources to help with cataloging specific types of objects;
  • guidelines and tips on how to use the Nomenclature system.

The Nomenclature Task Force, which includes representatives from both Canada and the USA, will regularly update the harmonized online standard in both English and French, in consultation with museums that use it.  Users will soon be able to purchase an electronic download of the new Nomenclature data from Rowman & Littlefield. In 2020, CHIN plans to release the Nomenclature content as linked open data under an Open Data Commons license, which means that it will be free to download and use at that time.

The new Nomenclature for Museum Cataloging website provides North American museums housing history or ethnology collections with a single, bilingual, illustrated standard. We invite you to consult the updated user guide, search for terms or browse through the classification hierarchy. Consult Nomenclature at or submit new terms for inclusion in the standard at

Please contact Paul Bourcier ( at the AASLH Nomenclature Task Force, Heather Dunn ( or Madeleine Lafaille ( at CHIN, or Jean-Luc Vincent ( at Parks Canada for more information.

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The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) is a national association that provides leadership and support for its members who preserve and interpret state and local history in order to make the past more meaningful to all people.

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