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Building Product Source: Spotlight on Sweet’s Catalog File

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This post was written by John F. Buydos a Reference Librarian in the Science Section.

The Sweet’s Catalog File is a building product source and a frequently used title here at the Library. It is an example of a master catalog (i.e., catalogs or partial catalogs from several manufacturers, with a combined index) in the same class as Electronic Engineers Master Catalog, IC Master, Food Engineering Master, and Thomas Register of American Manufacturers. The print volumes in the collections of the Library of Congress go back to 1915 and you can see some sample pages featured in this post.

1918 (13th annual edition) of “Sweet’s Architectural Catalogue”
1918 (13th annual edition) of “Sweet’s Architectural Catalogue”

This title has gone through some big changes over time. Earlier series include Sweet’s Catalog Service: Architectural File,  Sweet’s Engineering Catalogues, and Sweet’s Catalog File for Builders.  There are also numerous instances of title changes and even titles being split into new titles.  For example, Sweet’s Engineering Catalogues was published from 1914-1933 but starting with 1934 it split into Sweet’s File: Engineering (TA215.S85), Sweet’s File: Mechanical Industries (TA215.S86), Sweet’s Catalog File: Power Plants (TA215.S87), and Sweet’s File: Process Industries (TA215.S88). Furthermore, titles may be divided into various section numbers and that also changes over time.

To get a sense of how extensive this title is, here are the four basic areas of the stacks of the general collections with the approximate number of shelves:

TA215.S…         33 shelves
TH455.S..           99 2/3 shelves
TH6010.S…       1/3 shelf
TK455.S…         1 1/3 shelves
TOTAL               134 1/2 shelves

Keep in mind that each shelf is approximately 30 inches long so that there are 336.25 linear feet or 0.064 miles of Sweet’s Catalogs in the collections of the Library of Congress!

1920 (15th annual edition) of “Sweet’s Architectural Catalogue”

Since titles vary widely even within the same call number, here is a list by call number including the approximate dates of Library of Congress holdings:

TA215.S78                   Industrial Construction and Renovation (1977-1990)
TA215.S8                     Plant Engineering (1953-1976)
TA215.S82                   List of Users (1930, 1932, 1936-1938)
TA215.S84                   Sweet’s Engineering Catalog (1915, 1927-1933)
TA215.S85                   Sweet’s Catalog File: Engineering (1934-1992, 1996)
TA215.S86                   Sweet’s Catalog File: Mechanical Industries (1934-1952)
TA215.S87                   Sweet’s Catalog File: Power Plants (1934-1952)
TA215.S88                   Sweet’s Catalog File: Process Industries (1934-1952)

TH455.S782                 Building Products for Export (1992)
TH455.S784                 Mechanical Engineering and Retrofit (1981-)
TH455.S785                 Engineering: Mechanical, Electrical, Civil, Structural (1979-)
TH455.S786                 Civil Engineering, Structural Engineering, Retrofit (1980-)
TH455.S7864               General Building, Renovation, Homebuilding, Remodeling (1984-)
TH455.S787                 Contract Interiors (1977-)
TH455.S788                 International Construction (1986-)
TH455.S79                   Electrical Engineering, Light Construction (1955, 1978, 1997)
TH455.S8                     Sweet’s Architectural Catalog (1918, 1920, 1925-1926, 1929-)
TH455.S85                   Builders/Light Construction (1942-)
TH455.S86                   Directory (1999)
TH455.S87                   Mechanical Engineering (1976-1980)
TH455.S873                 Mechanical/Sanitary (1976)
TH455.S874                 Homebuilding/Remodeling (1996)

TH6010.S93                 Accessible Building Products (1995)
TH6010.S94                 International Building Products (1995-1997)

TK455.S79                   Electrical Engineering (1979-)

Science Reference is going to publish a much more detailed inventory and finding aid on their web page, so for those interested in this title keep your eyes peeled. In the meantime, if you have questions you can ask Science Reference via Ask A Librarian.

UPDATE: This finding aid is now available! Go to


Comments (2)

  1. I love those Sweets! So happy to see a blog post about this unique and highly used resource. Cheers JFB!

  2. these were great books to find products before the advent of the internet
    i have a complete set from centennial year 1967 in pristine condition given to me in 1968 when was in collage taking arch.drafting.They reflect a time in canada when anything was possible !!

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