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Union List of Artist Names (ULAN): Editorial Guidelines


Purpose of These Guidelines
Purpose of the ULAN

    Introduction and Overview (PDF, 5.2 MB, 116pp)

    1.1.1 Scope and Structure
    1.1.2 What is a Thesaurus?
    1.1.3 What is an Artist?

    1.2.1 Review process
    1.2.2 Does contributors' data follow editorial rules?

    1.3.1 Web browsers
    1.3.2 Licensed files
    1.3.3 Sample Displays of ULAN Data

    1.4.1 Database
    1.4.2 Merged Records
    1.4.3 Operating VCS


    2.1.1 Following the rules
    2.1.2 Required fields and minimal records
    2.1.3 Format and values
    2.1.4 Capitalization and abbreviation
    2.1.5 Language of the Record
    2.1.6 Production goals
    2.1.7 Leaving unfinished records overnight
    2.1.8 Quality control
    2.1.9 Avoid plagiarism
    2.1.10 Uncertainty and ambiguity in display fields
    2.1.11 Uncertainty and ambiguity in indexing fields
    2.1.12 Uncertain identification of an artist

    2.2.1 Rules for merging
    2.2.2 Procedures for merging

    2.3.1 Rules for moving
    2.3.2 Procedures for moving

    2.4.1 Sample ULAN record
    2.4.2 Sample ULAN record in VCS

    2.5.1 About the fields
    2.5.2 List of VCS Fields


    3.1.1 Parents
    3.1.2 Sort Order
    3.1.3 Historical Flag: Current or Historical parents
    3.1.4 Dates for relationship to parents
    3.1.5 Parent String

    3.2.1 Subject ID
    3.2.2 Parent Key
    3.2.3 Merged Status
    3.2.4 Published Status
    3.2.5 Review Status
    3.2.6 Record Type
    3.2.7 Candidate Status
    3.2.8 Label
    3.2.9 Contributors for the Subject Record
    3.2.10 Sources for the Subject Record

    3.3.1 Term ID
(required default)
    3.3.2 Name
    3.3.3 Preferred Flag
    3.3.4 Qualifier
    3.3.5 Sequence Number
    3.3.6 Historical Flag
    3.3.7 Term Type
    3.3.8 Vernacular Flag
    3.3.9 Language for Names
    3.3.10 Preferred Flag for Language
    3.3.11 Contributor for Name
    3.3.12 Preferred Flag for Contributor
    3.3.13 Sources for Names
    3.3.14 Page Number for Name Source
    3.3.15 Preferred Flag for Source
    3.3.16 Dates for Names
    3.3.17 Display Name Flag
    3.3.18 LC Flag
    3.3.19 Other Flags
    3.3.20 Assigned To

    3.4.1 Descriptive Note
    3.4.2 Sources for the Descriptive Note
    3.4.3 Contributor for the Descriptive Note

    3.5.1 Related People and Corporate Bodies
    3.5.2 Relationship Type
    3.5.3 Historical Flag
    3.5.4 Dates for Related People and Corporate Bodies

    3.6.1 Display Biography
    3.6.2 Nationality
    3.6.3 Preferred Flag for Nationality
    3.6.4 Sequence Number for Nationality
    3.6.5 Role
    3.6.6 Preferred Flag
    3.6.7 Sequence Number
    3.6.8 Historical Flag
    3.6.9 Dates for Roles
    3.6.10 Birth and Death Dates
    3.6.11 Birth and Death Places
    3.6.12 Sex
    3.6.13 Preferred Flag for Biography
    3.6.14 Contributor for Biography

    3.7.1 Event Type
    3.7.2 Preferred Flag for Event
    3.7.3 Sequence Number
    3.7.4 Event Place
    3.7.5 Dates for Events

    3.8.1 Comment Flag
    3.8.2 Problem flag
    3.8.3 Assigned To
    3.8.4 Special Project
    3.8.5 Facet Code
    3.8.6 Legacy ID
    3.8.7 Class Notation
    3.8.8 Image
    3.8.9 Index Note
    3.8.10 Not Found Note
    3.8.11 Status Note
    3.8.12 Editor Note
    3.8.13 Revision History

    4.1.1 How to Use Diacritical Codes
    4.1.2 Diacritical Codes: Quick Reference
    4.1.3 Diacritical Codes: Full List

    4.2.1 How to Record Dates
    4.2.2 How to Use the Date Authority
    4.2.3 Date Authority

    4.3.1 How to Record Sources
    4.3.2 Rules for Sources
    4.3.3 Merging Sources

    4.4.1 How to Record Contributors

    4.5.1 How to Record Languages
    4.5.2 List of Languages

    4.6.1 How to Record Roles
    4.6.2 Roles List

    4.7.1 How to Record Nationalities
    4.7.2 Nationality List
    4.7.3 How to Record Places




    compiled and edited by
    Patricia Harpring, managing editor, and
    the Getty Vocabulary Program:
    Robin Johnson, editor
    Jonathan Ward, editor
    Antonio Beecroft, editor

    Revised: 22 November 2022




This document contains information about editorial practice for the Union List of Artist Names (ULAN)®, one of the vocabularies produced by the Getty Vocabulary Program. The other vocabularies are the Art & Architecture Thesaurus (AAT)®, the Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names (TGN)®, the Cultural Ojbects Name Authority (CONA)®, and the Getty Iconography Authority (IA)™.

NOTE: The guidelines in this document are subject to frequent modification and additions.


Purpose of these guidelines
This document contains rules and guidelines intended for use by contributors and the editors of the Getty Vocabulary Program. Implementers of the Vocabulary data should consult these guidelines to extrapolate information and guidance.


Purpose of ULAN
The AAT, TGN, ULAN, CONA, and IA are structured vocabularies that can be used to improve access to information about art, architecture, and material culture. The Getty Vocabularies are not simple 'value vocabularies'; they are unique knowledge bases in themselves. Through rich metadata and links, the Getty Vocabularies provide powerful conduits for knowledge creation, complex research, and discovery for digital art history and related disciplines.

  • Cataloging: For some users, the Getty Vocabularies are utilized as data value standards at the point of documentation or cataloging, to promote consistency in assignment of a term or to provide options among multiple terms referencing the same concept. The Vocabularies provide preferred names/terms and synonyms for people, places, and things. They also provide structure and classification schemes that can aid in documentation.

  • Linking: For other users, the Getty Vocabularies are used in linking, in order to reference the unique identifier of the Vocabulary record, or to otherwise reconcile their data.

  • Retrieval: For other users, the Getty Vocabularies aid in retrieval and discovery, utilizing synonymous terms, broader/narrower contexts, and other rich contextual data in search assistants, in database retrieval systems, and more broadly in a linked environment. The Vocabularies are rich knowledge bases that contain dozens of fields of rich contextual data about each concept, and semantic networks that highlight links and paths between concepts.

  • Research tools: For other users, the Getty Vocabularies are used as look-up resources, valuable because of the rich information and contextual knowledge that they contain.

  • In order to meet the needs of these various user communities, the Getty Vocabularies are made available in several ways.

  • Data formats: Releases include Linked Open Data (LOD) (JSON, RDF, N3/Turtle, N-Triples for GVP and Linked.Art), XML, Relational Tables, Web Services APIs. These files are used by developers or incorporated in various tools by vendors or others. These releases may be transformed to comply with other formats, such as the MARC format used for ULAN and TGN in the Virtual International Authority File (VIAF). Some of these releases contain simplified versions of the data, while others contain the full, rich data sets, providing versions to meet the requirements of various developer communities. The AAT, TGN, and ULAN are available as LOD, relational tables, and XML. AAT, TGN, ULAN, CONA, and IA are available through APIs. The data file releases are refreshed periodically throughout the year. The Getty Vocabularies are published under The Getty Vocabularies are published under the Open Data Commons Attribution License (ODC-By) 1.0.
  • Online search: The five Getty Vocabularies' online search pages are consistently the top sites visited at the Getty Research Institute Web site each month. Using these search tools, catalogers copy-and-paste Vocabulary terms and IDs as part of their daily workflow. Researchers use the search to locate rich information about the Vocabulary concepts. In the results displays, for each concept the data fields are presented in a logical full-record display for end users, as well as in hierarchical views. The online search data is refreshed monthly.

    Various releases or utilizations of the Getty Vocabulary data may contain more or less of the full, available data for each Vocabulary record, depending upon the purpose of the release. An implementation that intends to ask complex queries using the Vocabulary data would require the full available data. In another example, if a developer only needs to link to the unique identifier for the concept, perhaps a streamlined data set would be more appropriate; e.g., the ULAN data (and soon TGN data also) that is included in the VIAF (Virtual International Authority File) is a subset of the full data available, which is streamlined and parsed to fit the particular requirements of MARC.

Titian or Tiziano Vecellio? ULAN is a structured vocabulary, including names, biographies, related people, and other metadata about artists, architects, firms, studios, museums, patrons, sitters, and other people and groups critical for cataloging and researching art and architecture.

For further discussion of the history and scope of ULAN, see About ULAN.


The Getty Vocabularies are copyrighted: Copyright © J. Paul Getty Trust and released under Open Data Commons Attribution License (ODC-By) 1.0. For details, see Obtain the Getty Vocabularies.


ULAN is a compiled resource; it is not comprehensive. It grows over time through contributions, to reflect new research on biographies, and to accommodate new research in art history. Information in the ULAN is compiled by the Getty Vocabulary Program in collaboration with many institutions. Institutions interested in becoming contributors should follow instructions on the Contribute.


For further information, please contact

the Getty Vocabulary Program

the Getty Vocabulary Program

Getty Vocabulary Program
1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
Los Angeles, CA 90049








General Information about ULAN

For a briefer general introduction, see ULAN Introduction and Overview (PDF, 5.2 MB, 116pp).





Scope and Structure



Scope of ULAN
ULAN includes names, relationships, and biographical information for makers and other people and corporate bodies required for the documentation, collection, and discovery of information about art, architecture, and other material culture where the works are of the type collected by art museums and other repositories for visual cultural heritage, or that are architecture. Within scope are artists, architects, other makers, firms, and studios, both named and anonymous. Also included may be patrons (who often have input in the creative process) and repositories of art. Makers may be named (e.g., Katsushika Hokusai) or anonymous (e.g., Master of the Aachen Altar). ULAN includes makers of cultural visual works which are ceremonial or utilitarian in nature, even if not classified as art according to traditional Western perceptions. Appellations for creating cultures are included (e.g., unknown Aztec). Also included are repositories of art. Amateur artists may be included in ULAN if their work is of the type typically collected by art museums and information for all CORE ULAN fields is available, including a recognized published source that names or discusses the artist and their work (for example, a journal article or an entry in a museum catalog). Occasionally, names of certain donors, sitters, and other non-makers associated with the work may be included, although generally such names are out of scope.

What is excluded from ULAN? The names of fictional and literary characters who may be the subject of the visual work are excluded from ULAN; they could be recorded instead in the Iconography Authority (IA), provided they are within scope for the IA. Records for people and corporate bodies that are named in documentation or archival materials about visual works, but whose identity and biographical information are unknown or unknowable are typically out of scope for ULAN. Attribution statements, including those naming studios or workshops, are outside the scope of ULAN. For example, when a painting is attributed to to an artist or to some unknown hand in the workshop of a known artist (e.g., as might be expressed in an object record as attributed to Hokusai or follower of Rembrandt), these attribution statements are outside the scope of ULAN (attribution qualifiers are in AAT). In such cases, the attribution statement combines a qualifier that should be recorded in the object record, not included in ULAN, and possibly a link to a known artist (if applicable). Generic personal names, such as the word Brueghel, are excluded from ULAN because they do not represent a single definable entity. Overall, records that lack the minimal information for a ULAN record are excluded (i.e., name, nationality, role, and life dates or an estimation of when the person existed); see guidelines for contributions for more information regarding minimum contribution requirements.

Although occasionally the names of donors, sitters, and others who are only peripherally associated with the creation of the work may be included in ULAN, these people are not the focus of ULAN and are generally excluded. Musicians, actors, dancers, or other performing artists are excluded from ULAN, except in the rare occasion when the people or their works are necessary to catalog particular visual works. Names of catalogers, conservators, field archaeologists, art historians, and authors who write about cultural works are typically excluded from ULAN. In general, if a repository includes names such as noted above in the catalog record, we advise that the names be maintained in a local authority rather than contributed to ULAN, because such names are likely needed locally but are not useful to the larger ULAN user community. Also excluded from ULAN are certain local names for people and corporate bodies who themselves are within scope for ULAN, but where these particular names are used only locally; for example, excluded are local abbreviations for names and name spellings found in only one archival document.

Please see further discussion in the guidelines for contributions and editorial guidelines regarding which names may be contributed to ULAN and which should instead be maintained in a local authority; you may consult the list of fields likely to be found in a work record and that may contain personal names, but which are out of scope for inclusion in ULAN.



Structure of the data
The focus of each ULAN record is an artist, patron, sitter, atelier, museum, or other person or corporate body. In the database, each record (also called a subject in this manual) is identified by a unique numeric ID. Linked to each record are names, related people, sources for the data, and notes. The temporal coverage of the ULAN ranges from Antiquity to the present and the geographic scope is global.

  • Even though the structure may appear relatively flat, the ULAN is a hierarchical database having instance or whole/part (broader/narrower) between records. ULAN trees branch from a root called Top of the ULAN hierarchies (Subject_ID: 500000001). The published facets of the ULAN are the following:
  • Corporate Bodies
    Persons, Artists
    Unidentified Named People and Firms
    Unknown People by Culture

  • Records for individual people in ULAN have no children; limited relationships of family trees may be expressed in Associative Relationships.

    Entities in the Corporate Body facet may branch into trees.

    (Additional facets called temp.parents are used for contributed candidate records but not published.)

    Polyhierarchical: There may be multiple broader contexts, making the ULAN structure polyhierarchical. In addition to the hierarchical relationships, the ULAN also has equivalent and associative relationships; it thus has the structure of a thesaurus, in compliance with ISO and NISO standards.



  • Records under the facet Unidentified Named People and Corporate Bodies are particularly likely to undergo change or merging over time. It is recommended for general users to avoid records in this facet.

    Unpublished facets in ULAN are used for candidate records. Unpublished facets and hierarchies are designated by the "name" temp.parent (e.g., temp.parent/candidate records).





What is a Thesaurus?

  • The ULAN is a thesaurus. A thesaurus is a semantic network of unique concepts, including relationships between synonyms, broader and narrower (parent/child) contexts, and other related concepts. Thesauri allow three types of relationships: equivalence (synonym), hierarchical (whole/part or genus/species), and associative. Thesauri may be monolingual or multilingual. Most fields in ULAN records are written in English. While the ULAN is not fully multilingual strictly speaking, the structure of the ULAN supports multilinguality insofar as names and descriptive notes may be written and flagged in multiple languages. Thesauri are used to ensure consistency in indexing and to facilitate the retrieval of information.





Thesauri may have the following three relationships:





Equivalence relationships
The relationships between synonymous terms or names for the same person or corporate body, typically distinguishing preferred names (descriptors) and non-preferred names (variants).





Associative relationships
The relationships between concepts that are closely related conceptually, but the relationship is not hierarchical because it is not whole/part or genus/species (e.g., student/teacher relationships).





Hierarchical relationships
Broader and narrower (parent/child) relationships between concepts. Hierarchical relationships are generally either whole/part or genus/species; in the ULAN, there may be whole/part relationships between corporate bodies (e.g., between a firm and its divisions). Relationships may be polyhierarchical, meaning that each child may be linked to multiple parents.






What is an Artist?

  • In the context of the ULAN, an artist is any person or group of persons who creates art. The definition hinges upon the sometimes nebulous, often controversial, constantly changing definition of art. For ULAN, artists represent creators who have been involved in the design or production of architecture or visual arts that are of the type collected by art museums. However, artists are broadly defined in ULAN, including creators of works of visual culture that are not defined by art according to traditional western definitions, such as the types of objects held by an ethnographic, anthropological, or other museum.

  • The primary focus of ULAN is artists, however large numbers of records for other people and corporate bodies are included as well, such as important patrons (who are often influential in the design process), museums, and galleries. A limited number of sitters may also be included, however, repositories are generally advised to keep records for sitters in a local database.





Persons include individuals whose biographies are well known (e.g., Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch painter and printmaker, 1606-1669)) as well as anonymous creators with identified oeuvres but whose names are unknown and whose biography is estimated or surmised (e.g., Master of Alkmaar (North Netherlandish painter, active ca. 1490-ca. 1510)). The types of artists included in ULAN is represented in the examples of their roles below.

      • Examples















architectural engineer




naive artist


architectural painter





Corporate Bodies
A corporate body may be a legally incorporated entity, such as a modern architectural firm or museum, but it is not necessarily legally incorporated; for example, a 16th-century sculptors' studio or a family of artists may be recorded as a corporate body. (ULAN is not used for family tree information, other than for members who are artists.)

  • A corporate body must be an organized, identifiable group of individuals working together in a particular place and within a defined period of time. Examples of roles of corporate bodies are listed below.

      • Examples






architectural firm









art museum

art gallery





Workshops and families
A workshop may be included if the workshop itself is a distinct "personality" collectively responsible for the creation of art (for example, the 13th-century group of French illuminators, Soissons atelier).

Generic attributions to studios or workshops are outside the scope of ULAN. For example, when a painting is attributed to some unknown hand in the workshop of a known artist (e.g., as might be expressed in an object record as workshop of Raffaello Sanzio), this is outside the scope of ULAN. In such cases, "workshop of" is more properly a qualifier for the attribution to Raffaello Sanzio in an object record. See the discussion of Attribution Qualifier in the CONA Editorial Guidelines; see also Categories for the Description of Works of Art or Cataloging Cultural Objects.

Families of artists may be included as corporate bodies.





Anonymous artists
Anonymous artists are within the scope of ULAN if the hand of the anonymous artist has been identified. In such cases, it is common for scholars or a museum to have created an identity for him or her (e.g., Monogrammist A. C. or Master of the Aeneid Legend).

  • Designations for unidentified artistic personalities with unestablished oeuvres may be found in the Unidentified People by Culture facet. An example is unknown Aztec. More specific designations of unknown artists, such as 16th-century Italian, are out of scope for ULAN. Record such descriptions in the Creator Display of the work record, and index with a term from Unidentified People by Culture, such as unknown Italian.





Amateur artists
Amateur artists may be included in the ULAN if their work has been documented by an authoritative source or reviewed in a published source. A criterion for inclusion is the availability of information for all the required ULAN fields, including a published source (which may be an entry in a museum catalog).





ULAN may also include individuals and corporate bodies who are required for cataloging art, such as patrons, art academies, museums, and other repositories of art. While ULAN includes a small number of sitters, most sitters should be included local repository databases rather than contributed to ULAN.


What is excluded from ULAN?
ULAN includes records for painters, sculptors, printmakers, photographers, and a host of other creators, patrons, repositories, and other people or corporate bodies initmately associated with the creation and maintenance of visual art and architecture. While performance artists are included, performing artists (e.g., actors, singers, dancers, composers) are generally excluded. Also generally excluded are art historians, journalists, authors, conservators, and curators.

  • Repositories of art as corporate bodies are included in ULAN, however, the building in which the repository is are housed, even if it has the same name, is excluded. It should be recorded separately as a built work in CONA. The corporate body in ULAN should be linked to the building in CONA through the CONA Related Person/Corporate Body links.

  • Only real, current or historical people and corporate bodies are included in ULAN. Literary, mythological, and legendary characters are not recorded in ULAN. Record them in the Getty Iconography Authority (IA).




Editorial control




Review process

  • Records are created and edited by the Vocabulary Program editors and trained, established contributors, following the Editorial Rules laid out in this manual.

  • As time permits, the Vocabulary Program reviews individual records from contributors before they are released in the ULAN. All contributions are checked, but with less supervision required for trained, established contributors.

  • Vocabulary Program (VP) editors follow strict rules when adding new records to the ULAN. VP editors edit the contributors' records to comply with VP policy and practice; however, given the large number of records in the ULAN, editors do not have the time or resources to edit every record. An editorial goal is to have uniform and homogeneous records throughout the ULAN, but employing flexible standards for contributors' data means that the ULAN database as whole is not entirely consistent or totally uniform.

  • The VP collects new issues that arise during the course of accepting contributions and editing the ULAN. The resolutions of these issues are periodically transferred to an updated version of the manual.



Does contributors' data follow editorial rules?

  • The Vocabulary Program communicates with and trains potential contributors, to assure that 1) the incoming data will be within the scope of the ULAN, and 2) the incoming data will be in appropriate format and generally consistent with the ULAN standards.

  • Compliance with critical standards are required; however, certain other content and editorial guidelines are considered flexible. It is critical that required fields are indexed or formatted in a way that will allow retrieval. A preferred name in a non-Roman alphabet must have a transliterated counterpart in the Roman alphabet.




Releasing the Data




Web searching

  • On the Getty Web site: Users may search for individual terms and names, qualified by other fields, in the Getty Vocabularies online. Using these search tools, catalogers may copy-and-paste Vocabulary terms and IDs as part of their daily workflow. Researchers use the search to locate rich information about the Vocabulary concepts. In the results displays, for each concept the data fields are presented in a logical full-record display for end users, as well as in hierarchical views. The online search data is refreshed monthly.









Data files

  • Data files: Releases of AAT, TGN, and ULAN include Linked Open Data (LOD) (JSON, RDF, N3/Turtle, N-Triples for GVP and Linked.Art), XML, and Relational Tables. AAT, TGN, ULAN, CONA, and IA are available through APIs. These files are used by developers or incorporated in various tools by vendors or others. These releases may be transformed to comply with other formats, such as the MARC format used for ULAN and TGN in the Virtual International Authority File (VIAF®). Some of these releases contain simplified versions of the data, while others contain the full, rich data sets, providing versions to meet the requirements of various developer communities. The data file releases are refreshed periodically throughout the year.
  • Incorporated in vendors' systems: The Getty Vocabularies are used in various collection management systems or other information systems. Examples are in TMS (The Museum System) by Gallery Systems and in the Refine cloud app in Alma by Ex Libris.
  • Data Dictionaries: The data dictionaries and other documentation describe the release formats and content of the Getty vocabularies. They do not give step-by-step instructions on how to construct a database or interface based on the data files; analysis and programming resources will be required to implement the vocabularies. The Getty does not provide technical support. View the data dictionaries and data from the Download Center.









Sample Displays of ULAN Data





Vocabulary Coordination System (VCS)

  • VCS is the editorial system that was custom-designed to house and edit the Getty Vocabularies. AAT, TGN, and ULAN are each stored in a separate iteration of VCS; CONA and IA share an interation of VCS. References to "the system" refer to VCS. References made to "fields" refer to data elements in VCS. References to a "record" or "subject record" refer to an intellectual record comprising all the data linked to a given Subject ID in the data structure.










  • VCS uses a relational database; the database models for all vocabularies are identical in the core fields, differing only where additional tables or controlled values are necessary. See the Data Dictionary for further information.









Merged Records

  • ULAN is compiled from names and biographical information that has been collected by the Getty and other institutions. When multiple contributors have submitted information about the same person or corporate body, all the names and related information about the person or corporate body are merged into a single record ("merge" is a function of the VCS editorial system).









Operating VCS

  • The chapters in this manual contain definitions of the fields, suggested values, sources where the values may be found, and rules for entering the data where relevant. The fields are presented roughly in the order in which they are found in VCS.

  • While there is some mention of the functionality of VCS in this manual, detailed instructions for the system are not included here. Instructions regarding how to use VCS are provided during training.


Updated 22 November 2022
Document is subject to frequent revisions


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