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Commercial Sources (a sampler)
Introduction: Scope and Arrangement of the List
A growing number of libraries, archives, and museums offer ready
access to their visual materials through Web-based searchable databases
that focus on photographs, prints, and drawings. The Prints and
Photographs Division, for instance, offers the Prints
and Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC), which provides access
to a large cross-section of images. Other institutions' databases
offer regional and subject strengths that may not be available
anywhere else. This list of online picture catalogs will help you
find historical, documentary images described and, often, pictured
in such databases.
The selection of about 50 catalogs is representative rather than
Out of scope are:
- Covers sites that emphasize online catalogs and
finding aids for pictorial collections.
- Emphasizes databases that cover historical and documentary
images in general subject areas, rather than those that focus
on a single topic.
- Most catalogs have more than 1,000 records and are predominately in
the English language.
- Many (not all) include digital images.
- When catalogs include non-pictorial materials, the search screens
make it obvious and easy to limit a query to still pictures.
Within the two categories, Libraries, Archives,
and Museums and Commercial
Sources (a sampler), entries are listed alphabetically by the name of the
- Web sites based on exhibit and gallery presentations
- commercial sites that sell original prints and photographs
- catalogs that feature art or slide reproductions.
The Library of Congress does not maintain most of these sites. Users should direct concerns about these links to their respective site administrators or webmasters.
American Antiquarian Society
Limit search to "Graphic Arts" to locate thousands of historical prints and numerous photographs. For engravings, use the Catalog of American Engravings, http://catalog.mwa.org:7108/. For online inventories of collections not yet in the catalog, use the Collection Access Chart, http://www.americanantiquarian.org/chart.htm.
American Institute of Physics
Emilio Segrè Visual Archives http://photos.aip.org/
"More than 30,000 historical digital images, photographs, slides, lithographs, engravings, drawings and other visual materials.”
Arizona State Archives
Historic Photographs http://azmemory.azlibrary.gov/cdm/landingpage/collection/histphotos
More than 30,000 of 160,000 photographs are digitized and searchable online.
Arkansas History Commission
More than 50,000 photographs and 13,000 digital images.
Boston Historical Society (The Bostonian Society)
One catalog retrieves photos and postcards. Another catalog covers prints and paintings. At least 10,000 digitized images.
Historical Photographs Online http://aabc.ca/resources/historical-photographs/
Provides links to databases describing more than 250,000 photographs and documentary
art at the British Columbia Archives, City of Vancouver, University of British
Columbia, and other repositories. Maintained by the Archives Association
of British Columbia.
Catalogue of Photographs http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/photographs/
"A detailed searchable database for locating photographs, photographically-illustrated books and texts relating to photography held in all departments of the British Library."
Online Gallery: Historic Photographs http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/features/photographicproject/index.html
Images Online https://imagesonline.bl.uk/?service=page&action=show_home_page&language=en
"A unique resource for commercial picture buyers, enabling you to license thousands of images from the British Library's unparalleled collections."
Library and Archives Canada
Archives Search http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/lac-bac/search/arch
Recently cataloged and digitized visual materials. Select types of material: “architectural and technical drawings,” “art,” or “photographic material.”
Chicago History Museum (Chicago Historical Society)
Research Center, Archie, http://www.chsmedia.org:8081/ipac20/ipac.jsp?profile=
Select "advanced search" and limit to Photos/Prints (all), which includes digitized images.
Connecticut Historical Society, with the University of Connecticut and Mystic
Connecticut History Online http://www.cthistoryonline.org/
About 14,000 images of photographs, drawings, and prints.
Council of Nova Scotia Archives
Archway Photographic Database http://www.councilofnsarchives.ca/ArchWay/index.htm
Union catalog for photographs in archives throughout Nova Scotia.
Denver Public Library, Western History and Genealogy
Digital Image Collection http://digital.denverlibrary.org/
Almost 145,000 images and catalog records of "American Indians, pioneers, railroads,
mining, Denver and Colorado towns, city, farm, and ranch life, recreation, scenery,
news events, and numerous other subjects and states."
Undigitized Photos Guides http://history.denverlibrary.org/images/undigitized/index.html
Florida State Archives
Flickr Commons http://www.flickr.com/commons
More than 75 libraries, archives, and museums contribute pictures with “no known copyright restrctions.”
Florida Memory. Florida Photographic Collection http://www.floridamemory.com/photographiccollection/
Almost 100,000 records and digital images for photographs are online. The Archives
has more than 850,000 photos.
Collection Index http://www.floridamemory.com/photographiccollection/collections/
"A list of individual collections that represent donations made by individual photographers or government agencies that make up the Florida Photographic Collection as a whole."
Folger Shakespeare Library
Digital Image Collection http://luna.folger.edu
Search for "art" to browse the visual material holdings, numbering more than 15,000 images.
George Eastman House: International Museum of Photography and Film
Photography Collections Online http://www.geh.org/
Offers access by photographer or format, with many digital images. Full catalog
is available by telnet, http://www.geh.org/gehdata.html.
Harvard University Library
Visual Information Access (VIA) http://via.lib.harvard.edu/via/deliver/advancedsearch?_collection=via
"VIA contains descriptive records and images representing paintings, sculpture, photography, drawings, prints, architecture, decorative arts, trade cards, rubbings, theater designs, maps and plans. Participating repositories include archives, museums, libraries, and other collections...."
Historical Society of Washington, D.C.
Online Catalog http://historydc.pastperfect-online.com/32595cgi/mweb.exe?request=ks
“Includes descriptions of many special photograph collections and over 55,000 individual photographs in the library's general photograph collection. Other photographs are accessible through hard-copy descriptions.” Check box for "photos" content.
Indiana Historical Society
Digital Image Collections http://images.indianahistory.org/cdm4/search.php
“The IHS Collections website includes over 34,000 digital images for research, and more are added every week.”
Kentuckiana Digital Library
"There are currently over 80,000 digital images available from over 100 archival collections." With links from item-level descriptions to finding aids.
Los Angeles Public Library
Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collections and Visual Collections http://www.lapl.org/
More than 80,000 digitized images. Emphasizes the history of Los Angeles, Southern California, and California.
Library of Congress
PPOC (Prints and Photographs Online Catalog) http://www.loc.gov/pictures/
Includes 600,000 records for more than 15 million pictures, with 1.2 million digital images.
Photographs and Prints in Global Gateway. Meeting of Frontiers http://international.loc.gov/intldl/mtfhtml/mfdigcol/mfdigcol.html
Includes ca. 20 collections from the Russian State Library and other repositories
Library of Virginia
Virginia Memory-Online Photo Collectionshttp://www.virginiamemory.com/collections/online_photo_collections
Digitized photographs and prints relating to Virginia history from several public libraries as well as the state library.
Maryland Historical Society
Photograph Collections http://www.mdhs.org/digital-images
Searches online guides and finding aids, with selected digital images.
Maryland State Archives
Guide to the Photographic Collections http://histpics.msa.maryland.gov/pages/Search.aspx
Searches collection and series-level descriptions, with selected digital images.
Minnesota Historical Society
Collections Online http://greatriversnetwork.org/index.php?brand=cms
More than 200,000 records for photos, art, posters, and fine art photos. Narrow by type, e.g., Photographs.
Nagasaki University Library
Japanese Metadata Database of Old Photographs in Bakumatsu-Meiji Period http://oldphoto.lb.nagasaki-u.ac.jp/unive/
About 6,000 items with digital images, 1860-1899.
National Archives and Records Administration
Online Public Access http://www.archives.gov/research/search/
Use Advanced Search to focus on pictures. Tip from Still Picture Records Section: For still photographs and posters, use the relevant search filter under media type (Photographs and other
Graphic Materials) and location (Still Picture Records Section, Special Media Archives Services Division). Database contains descriptions for more than 3,500 still photo and poster series,
along with item-level descriptions and reference-quality
digital reproductions for more than 40,000 selected photographs and
National Archives of Canada see: Library
and Archives Canada
National Library of Australia
Union catalog with more than two million records
and digital images from 25 archives, libraries,
and museums in Australia. The two largest
contributors are the
state libraries of New South Wales and Victoria. Incorporates Picture Australia.
National Library of Ireland
Advanced search http://catalogue.nli.ie/Search/Advanced
Select the format "Photo" or "Prints & Drawings." More than 35,000 digitized and more than 30,000 not digitized.
National Library of Medicine
Images from the History of Medicine (IHM) http://ihm.nlm.nih.gov/luna/servlet/view/all
More than 60,000 "portraits, pictures of institutions, caricatures, genre
scenes, and graphic art in a variety of media, illustrating the social and
historical aspects of medicine."
New Jersey Digital Highway
New Jersey Digital Highway http://www.njdigitalhighway.org/
The first collection features immigration in a "'one stop shop'" for New Jersey history and culture, from the collections of NJ libraries, museums, archives and historical societies.
New Orleans Public Library
Louisiana Division Photograph Collection http://nutrias.org/~nopl/photos/photolist.htm
Includes keyword search access to finding aids for photographic collections
and selected digital images.
New York Public Library
NYPL Digital Gallery http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/nypldigital/index.cfm
"Provides access to over 800,000 images ... including illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, vintage posters, rare prints and photographs, illustrated books, printed ephemera, and more."
Picture Collection Online http://digital.nypl.org/mmpco/
"More than 30,000 digitized images from books, magazines and newspapers as well as original photographs, prints and postcards, mostly created before 1923." No longer added to.
Northern Arizona University
Colorado Plateau Digital Archives
The catalog has ca. 50,000 digital images.
Ohio Historical Society
Ohio Pix http://ohsweb.ohiohistory.org/ohiopix/search.php?home=yes&gallery=most_popular1
More than 15,000 selected digital images of prints and photographs.
Online Archive of California
Use the 'images' search screen to locate "tens of thousands of photographs,
paintings, and other graphic materials." Example of a finding aid with embedded photos, Alice Iola Hare Photograph Collection, http://www.oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/tf7s20099w/
Graphic Arts. Catalogs, Databases, and Finding Aids http://www.princeton.edu/~rbsc/databases/graphicarts.html
“Search 21,500 records describing prints, drawings, photographs, museum objects and other visual materials in the Library's Special Collections. The MASC database also contains records for visual materials in manuscript, archival, and other special collection.”
Scottish Cultural Resources Access Network (SCRAN)
“Scran is a charitable online learning resource base with over 370,000 images and multimedia files from museums, galleries, archives and the media.”
Science and Society Picture Library (England)
“Over a million images from the Science Museum, the National Museum of Photography, Film & Television and the National Railway Museum. With over 50,000 images digitized.”
SIRIS (Smithsonian Institution Research Information System) http://www.siris.si.edu/
"Search over 7.4 million records, with 568,100 images, video and sound files from Smithsonian museums, archives, and libraries.”
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Photographs Search http://www.ushmm.org/research/research-in-collections/overview/photo-archives
“Approximately 20% of the 85,000 historical photographs in the Photo Archives are available through this online catalog.” “Approximately 600 of the 15,000 institutional photographs of the Museum.”
U.S. Naval Institute
Photo Archive http://photos.usni.org/
Viewing and sales catalog for 15,000 digitized photos from a collection of more than 450,000 images showing U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy, and Coast Guard; ships and aircraft; and battles.
University of California, Berkeley
Bancroft Library. California Heritage
More than 30,000 records. "Digital representations of photographs, pictures,
and manuscripts related to California history from the collections of the Bancroft
Library that are a part of the California Heritage Digital Image Access Project."
University of Michigan
Bentley Historical Library. Bentley Image Bank http://www.umich.edu/~bhl/
Almost 5,000 records and images, with links to finding aids with additional
M Library Digital Collections http://quod.lib.umich.edu/lib/colllist/
Lists databases with pictorial images from many university departments, including
local history collections, visual arts resources, and zoology. Set format filter to image collections.
University of North Carolina
North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives http://dc.lib.unc.edu/cdm/archivalhome/collection/dig_nccpa
Additional information about the archives, http://www2.lib.unc.edu/ncc/photos.html
University of Pittsburgh
Historic Pittsburgh: Images http://images.library.pitt.edu/cgi-bin/i/image/image-idx?xc=1&page=index&g=imls
"Provides access to over 10,500 visual images from thirty-eight collections held by the Archives Service Center at the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Museum of Art, Chatham College Archives, the Library & Archives at the Heinz History Center, and the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation."
University of Texas Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
Photography Collections Database http://norman.hrc.utexas.edu/photoPublic/
Use the "search" or "browse" feature to access selected descriptions from the
ca. 5 million prints and negatives at the Center. “This database provides access to all of our holdings on a collection-level basis.” Some digital images.
University of Washington Libraries
Digital Collections http://content.lib.washington.edu/
“Collections are primarily pictorial, although some have accompanying essays and text.”
Utah State Historical Society
Digital Library Collections http://heritage.utah.gov/history/digital-photos
Databases with more than 65,000 digitized photographs.
Washington State University. Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections
Digital Collections http://content.wsulibs.wsu.edu/
Select “Photographs” to search for digitized pictures and read descriptions of individual collections.
Wellcome Images http://wellcomeimages.org/
Catalog of historical and contemporary images in many media related to the history of medicine, health, and human culture worldwide.
Wisconsin Historical Society
Wisconsin Historical Images http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/whi/index.asp
Catalog with nearly 35,000images from the ca. 2 million pictures in the
Visual Materials Collections, with new images added daily.
Web-wide "image" search engines
Google. Image search http://www.google.com/imghp
Yahoo. Images http://images.search.yahoo.com/
Stock photo agency directories
Photo Marketing Tips http://www.photo-marketing-tips.com/?page_id=32
Picture Archive Council of America, Membership Directory, http://www.pacaoffice.org/ic/paca/devpages/mem_dir_redesign.html
Prepared by: Helena Zinkham, Technical Services
Section, July 2003. Last updated: January 2014.