While reading through my volume closely, I made note of all main ideas, frequently repeated words or phrases, and anything else that seemed interesting or otherwise notable. I was then able to select subject terms and craft my aboutness statement using those notes. After careful consideration, my chosen subject terms are as follows:
Inspections; Court for Native Matters; Census; Plantations; Payments; Housing; Fences; Taxes; Politics; Weather; Erosion; Gardens; Disease; River conditions; Investigations; Canoes; Whaleboats; Swamps; Rituals and customs; Religion; Nutrition; Land Surveys; Trade; Indigenous vocabulary.
Done as an in-class activity, I took significantly less time to read Scott’s entire volume. Skimming through the reports was definitely less time-consuming, but I was still able to gain a good sense of their contents. The reports were very similar to my assigned reports because the two volumes cover the same district about one year apart. The following terms were selected from Scott’s volume:
police camp; plantation; fences; health; disease; patrol instructions; canoes; sago; river conditions; whaleboat; rest house; land; inspections; taxes; census; court for native matters; rituals; investigation; coconuts; erosion; patrol instructions; barracks; gardens; religion; rituals; weather; infrastructure; sorcery
Although my process for finding the terms was different between the two volumes, the results were very similar. I think the overall consistency resulted from my having already chosen specific terms for my assigned reports. I was also able to be more decisive about word choice. For example, I originally struggled with deciding whether or not I would use distinct subject terms for the different types of investigations referred to in my reports. Rather than having separate categories for land, plantation, or native labor inspections, I decided to just use “inspections,” a decision that carried over to my quick analysis of Scott’s report.
My hope is that the subject terms I have used will make the Papua New Guinea patrol reports easier to use by any audience. For example, I originally had “puripuri” listed as a term for Scott’s report. Because someone who knew little about PNG may not know that term specifically, I used “sorcery” instead. I would never want to use words or phrases that would be offensive or insensitive to any particular audience, but I did use “court for native matters” as a subject term. I made this decision due to the widespread use of the acronym “C.N.M.” in the reports themselves, but I must admit that I am now questioning this choice. Is the usage of “native” appropriate in this context due to the consistency with the source material’s verbiage, or is it actually problematic? I did consider using “legal issues/matters” but did not feel that it captured the fact that foreign patrol officers were heavily involved in local legal issues.