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The Library of Congress > Duplication Services > Guide to the Collections

Finding Out What's In the Collections

Find the images you want by searching our Guide to the Collections. For your convenience, the Guide brings together multiple resources in one place, organizes them around the major collection types, and allows you to research our digital collection and order online.

Prints and Photographs (a.k.a. 'Photograph, Negative & Transparency')

You're looking for photographic negatives, transparencies, and prints.

What's in the Collections? How Do I Learn More? What's Available Online?

A collection of over 16 million photographs, fine and popular prints and drawings, posters, and architectural and engineering drawings. While international in scope, the collections are particularly rich in materials produced in, or documenting the history of, the United States and the lives, interests and achievements of the American people.

The Prints & Photographs Online Catalog describes about 95% of holdings, and includes many digital images.

If, after reviewing the online resources identified, you need more information about the collections, you can contact the Reference Staff at the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division, via Ask A Librarian

A selection of collections have been digitized. See: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/

Maps

You're looking for cartographic and geographic images, maps and atlases.

What's in the Collections? How Do I Learn More? What's Available Online?

A cartographic collection numbering over 5 million maps, including 80,000 atlases, 6,000 reference works, numerous globes and three-dimensional plastic relief models, and a large number of cartographic materials in other formats, including electronic.

Check the specific collections guides and finding aids to help you find what you're looking for. For guides to the map collections, see http://www.loc.gov/rr/geogmap/gmpage.html.

See the Geography and Maps: An Illustrated Guide.

If, after reviewing the online resources identified, you need more information about the collections, you can contact the Reference Staff at the Library of Congress Geography & Maps Division, via Ask A Librarian.

For all available digitized items from 1500-present, see: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/gmdhtml/gmdhome.html.

If digital images are displaying, you can download online images yourself.

Manuscripts

You're looking for original documents ranging from presidential papers to personal papers of individuals and families.

What's in the Collections? How Do I Learn More? What's Available Online?

The Library's manuscript collections document all aspects of American history and culture and include some of the nation's greatest manuscript treasures. Foremost among the manuscript collections are the twenty-three groups of presidential papers, ranging in time from George Washington to Calvin Coolidge. But the overwhelming majority of the collections comprise the personal papers of individuals and families. They differ from the holdings of the National Archives and Records Administration, which maintains the official records of the United States government.

Check the specific collections guides and finding aids to help you find what you're looking for. See the Manuscripts: An Illustrated Guide.

For guides to the manuscript collections and finding aids, see http://www.loc.gov/rr/mss/f-aids/mssfa.html.

If, after reviewing the online resources identified, you need more information about the collections, you can contact the Reference Staff at the Library of Congress Manuscript Division, via Ask A Librarian.

Some digitized collections exist. See http://www.loc.gov/rr/mss/ammem.html.

If digital images are displaying, you can download online images yourself.

Newspapers / Periodical / Journal

You're looking for periodicals and journals of a general or specialized nature, historic or current.

What's in the Collections? How Do I Learn More? What's Available Online?

Newspapers, periodical and journals cover all fields and can be found either in the Library's general collections or specialized collections. They include historic collections and current serials.

For bibliographies and guides to periodicals see http://www.loc.gov/rr/news/lcper.html#guides.

If, after reviewing the online resources identified, you need more information about the collections, you can contact the Reference Staff at the Library of Congress Serial and Government Publications Division, via Ask A Librarian.

Not digitized.

Sheet Music & Scores

You're looking for musical scores for solos and symphonies, songs with piano accompaniment, and opera scores and libretti.

What's in the Collections? How Do I Learn More? What's Available Online?

Collections include musical scores, from solo instrumental sonatas to symphonies, and from songs with piano accompaniment to opera full scores and libretti. Particularly rich in material related to American music, including manuscripts, correspondence, and papers of every notable American composer, conductor, and musician; and first editions of the sheet music of "popular" songs, including both original compositions (primarily for voice and piano, or for piano solo), and arrangements of what are now considered "classical" works, used primarily by amateur musicians. Collections also include many music pieces registered for copyright in the United States since the inception of federal copyright legislation in 1790.

Check the specific collections guides and finding aids to help you find what you're looking for. http://www.loc.gov/rr/perform/new.collections.html.

Finding aids: http://www.loc.gov/rr/perform/fabiblgds.html

For information on the background, scope, and content of this collection see: Music, Theater, Dance: An Illustrated Guide.

If, after reviewing the online resources identified, you need more information about the collections, you can contact the Reference Staff at the Library of Congress Performing Arts Division, via Ask A Librarian .

For a selection of digitized items, see the Performing Arts Encyclopedia at: http://www.loc.gov/performingarts/pae-home.html.

Rare Books

You're looking for early printed material published between 1600 to 1800.

What's in the Collections? How Do I Learn More? What's Available Online?

Collections encompass nearly all eras and subjects, and include 800,000 books, broadsides, pamphlets, theater playbills, title pages, prints, posters, photographs, incunabula (fifteenth-century imprints) and medieval and Renaissance manuscripts. Americana dates from a Columbus letter (1493) to the present and includes more than 16,000 imprints from 1640 to 1800, extensive holdings of western Americana, Confederate States publications, and thousands of nineteenth-century pamphlets.

Check the specific collections guides and finding aids to help you find what you're looking for. Finding aids: http://www.loc.gov/rr/rarebook/findaid/findaid.html.

For information on the background, scope, and content of this collection see: Rare Books and Special Collections: An Illustrated Guide.

If, after reviewing the online resources identified, you need more information about the collections, you can contact the Reference Staff at the Library of Congress Rare Book & Special Collections Division, via Ask A Librarian.

For a selection of digitized items, see http://www.loc.gov/rr/rarebook/digitalcoll.html.

General / Technical

You're looking for secondary sources in the humanities, sciences, and business.

What's in the Collections? How Do I Learn More? What's Available Online?

The Library has vast general collections of books and bound periodicals on all major subjects. The general reference collection emphasizes humanities, especially religion, philosophy, language, literature, art, and history, as well as in biography, bibliography, and library science. The science collections emphasis engineering, mathematics, environmental sciences , physics , chemistry, computer sciences, astronomy, botany, medicine, agriculture , military science , and naval science. The business collections emphasis, accounting, advertising, business history, entrepreneurship, exports and imports, finance, international business, labor management, market research, personnel relations, and stocks and bonds.

Check the specific collections guides and finding aids to help you find what you're looking for. For bibliographies and guides to the Library's general collections of books and periodicals, see: http://www.loc.gov/rr/main/bibguide.html, http://www.loc.gov/rr/business/index1.html, or http://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/subjectguides/subjectguides.html.

For guides to government publications, see http://www.loc.gov/rr/news/lcgovd.html.

If, after reviewing the online resources identified, you need more information about the collections, you can contact the Reference Staff at the Library of Congress Humanities/Social Sciences Division, via Ask A Librarian .

General and technical book collections are not digitized.

Legal Documents

You're looking for Congressional, federal, and state documents of a legal nature.

What's in the Collections? How Do I Learn More? What's Available Online?

The Law Library is a repository for the complete record of American Law and additions are constantly being made to the collection of U.S. Congress bills, resolutions, hearings and other documents; U.S. federal and state government documents of a legal nature; legal newspapers of major U.S. cities; and records and briefs of the U.S. Supreme Court and Courts of Appeal.

Check the specific collections guides and finding aids to help you find what you're looking for. See: http://www.loc.gov/law/help/ourcollections.php.

If, after reviewing the online resources identified, you need more information about the collections, you can contact the Reference Staff at the Library of Congress Law Library, via Ask A Librarian.

Some digitized collections exist. This collection has been digitized. If digital images are displaying, you can download online images yourself. See http://www.loc.gov/law/find/collections.php.

Microfilm

You're looking for something that may only be available or accessible on microfilm.

What's in the Collections? How Do I Learn More? What's Available Online?

The materials in microform vary widely not only in the nature of the original materials microfilmed--books, pamphlets, periodicals, manuscripts, dissertations, dramatic works, government documents, etc.-- but also in date, place of publication, language, and subject matter. While a number of these items duplicate items in the Library's print collections, most are available only in microform.

The general microform collection includes individual titles as well as distinct collections which may cover one or many subjects.

For guides to the microform collections and finding aids, see http://www.loc.gov/rr/microform/bibguide.html.

If, after reviewing the online resources identified, you need more information about the collections, you can contact the Reference Staff in the Microform Reading Room at the Library of Congress Humanities/Social Sciences Division, via Ask A Librarian.

Microfilm collections are not digitized.