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Illustrated English Language Periodicals

Artist putting a picture on wood - Detail from "How Illustrated Newspapers are Made
Detail from "How Illustrated Newspapers are Made," Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, v. 2, 1856 Aug. 2, 124.

Newspapers and magazines can be a good source of pictures from the era before photographs could be efficiently reproduced in print publications. Periodical illustration flourished from the mid-1800s onwards. Illustrations primarily took the form of black-and-white wood engravings and, later, color lithographs.

The Prints & Photographs Division (P&P) holds partial runs of some of the best-known products of the English-language pictorial press. The volumes are very fragile. In order to reduce repeat handling, the original volumes are used primarily for enabling Library of Congress Duplication Services to make high quality copies after relevant pictures have been identified through use of electronic databases or microfilm. 

In addition, images selectively clipped from the weeklies prior to their acquisition by P&P can be found in the division's collections, primarily in the Biographical File and LOTs (groups of images).

Images from P&P holdings that have been copied in response to duplication requests are generally represented by descriptions and digital images in the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC). You can check to see if a digital image exists by searching PPOC (// for words from the picture caption or the name of the periodical, volume and page.

Listed below in rough chronological order are illustrated English language periodicals held by the Prints & Photographs Division and selected general interest pictorial periodicals in other parts of the Library of Congress. Each cites resources for locating pictures in the periodical, generally through full-text electronic databases or microfilm. Keep in mind that microfilm and electronic databases often provide bitonal, black-and-white reproductions; color or tonality in the pictures, if there is any, will not be fully reproduced.

Some original drawings for illustrations used in the pictorial press can be found in P&P's Documentary Drawings and Cabinet of American Illustration collections.

Illustrated periodicals also flourished outside the English-speaking world. For a list of pictorial newspapers published outside of Great Britain, see Mason Jackson's, Pictorial Press: Its Origin and Progress (full citation and link to online version in Selected Bibliography, below).

Cover Illustrated London News

The Illustrated London News
Published: 1842-2003

  • Available in full text: Illustrated London News. Historical Archive 1842-2003 from Gale Cengage (access inside Library of Congress buildlings) [view description]
  • Available in Library of Congress General Collections (Call number: AP4 .I3). Prints & Photographs Division holdings: one volume only: v. 61 (1872: July-Sept.)
    View items copied from LC holdings (via PPOC)
  • Permalink to Library of Congress record for this title:
Cover Gleason's Pictorial Drawing Room Companion for Feb 14, 1852, from electronic database

Gleason's Pictorial Drawing-Room Companion
Published: 1851-1854 (absorbed Illustrated News (New York, NY); continued by Ballou's Pictorial Drawing-Room Companion )

Page from Illustrated News

Illustrated News
Published: 1853 (absorbed by Gleason's Pictorial Drawing-Room Companion)

Cover Ballou's Pictorial

Ballou's Pictorial Drawing-Room Companion
Published: 1855-1859 (continuation of Gleason's Pictorial)

Cover Frank Leslie's Illustrated News 1885 June 13

Frank Leslie's Illustrated Weekly 
Published:1855 Dec. 15-1922 June 17

Cover Harper's Weekly 1868 March 14

Harper's Weekly
Published: 1857 Jan. 3-1976 Sept. 6

Page from Southern Illustrated News

Southern Illustrated News
Published: 1862-1865

Cover of Puck Feb. 24 1886

Published: 1877-1918. (Includes color.)

Cover Judge 1897 January 23

Published: 1881-1939. (Includes color.)

Cover of Life 1913 February 20.

Published: 1883-1936. (Includes color.)

Requests for Quality Copies

Requests for copies from volumes held in Prints & Photographs Division are reviewed by curatorial staff; preservation concerns may preclude duplication.  Duplication Services may impose a handling fee for these fragile materials. Please include in your request:

  • call number of the original
  • volume
  • date                                  
  • page number (and area on the page, if relevant, for example, 'upper left')
  • caption

Selected Bibliography

Brown, Joshua. Beyond the Lines: Pictorial Reporting, Everyday Life, and the Crisis of Gilded-age America. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002. Call Number: PN4834 .B76 2002

Carlebach, Michael L. The Origins of Photojournalism in America. Washington : Smithsonian Institution Press, 1992. Call number: TR820 .C357 1992 [P&P]

Jackson, Mason. Pictorial Press: Its Origin and Progress. New York, B. Franklin [1969]. Reprint. Originally published 1885. Call Number: PN4834 .J3 1969. Available online through Hathi Trust (1885 printing): External link

Katz, Harry L. and Sara W. Duke. "Cartoon-Related Research at the Library of Congress," in Inks: Cartoon and Comic Art Studies, vol. 1, no. 3 (November 1994). Updated version available at: //

Patterson, Cynthia Lee. Art for the Middle Classes : America’s Illustrated Magazines of the 1840s. Jackson : University Press of Mississippi, 2010. Call Number: NC975 .P28 2010

Sinnema, Peter W. Dynamics of the Pictured Page : Representing the Nation in the Illustrated London News. Aldershot, Hants, England: Ashgate Pub., 1998. Call Number: NC978 .S56 1998

Tatham, David. Winslow Homer and the Pictorial Press. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 2003. Call Number: NC975.5.H65 T383 2003 [P&P]

Prepared by: Barbara Natanson, Head, Reference Section, Prints and Photographs Division, May 2011. Last revised: Jan. 2014.

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  January 17, 2014
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