Photographically Illustrated Books and Photobooks
As the name suggests, photographically illustrated books feature actual photographic prints to make a textual narrative more vivid or to tell an entire story. These books emerged in the mid-nineteenth century alongside the new photographic printing processes--namely the cyanotype and the calotype, soon followed by salted paper prints, albumen prints, and other image types. Photographers could fix an image on paper for insertion into published books and magazines.
The presence of photographs was highlighted on title pages of such publications as this Congressional year book in 1859: McClees's Gallery of Photographic Portraits of the Senators, Representatives & Delegates
Sam Houston, Senator from Texas. Photo by Julian Vannerson, 1859. In McClees' Gallery of Photographic Portraits of the Senators, Representatives & Delegates http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.26824
Photographically illustrated books explore a wide variety of topics from ancient ruins and arctic adventures to portraiture. Each book is unique because of the hand-crafted qualities of photographic printing. The books were expensive to make and, in most cases, produced in small quantities, which makes them rare today. They remain important because they show how photographers and publishers sought to improve upon the book and offer a different experience by applying a new technology in creative ways.
Photographically illustrated books are also important because this once uncommon genre would evolve into the ubiquitous photobooks that now fill bookshelves and adorn coffee tables throughout the world. In the twentieth century, photographically illustrated books gave way to books with mechanical reproductions of photographs, as publishers introduced photogravure, rotogravure, halftone, duotone, inkjet, and other ink-based printing from photographic sources. Less costly to produce, photobooks with photomechanical illustrations became a mass-market commodity. Although new photographically illustrated books are uncommon and usually produced as an artistic statement, the vision that originally inspired them continues to thrive, even to this day, with each new photobook.
This guide will introduce you to photographically illustrated books available through the Prints and Photographs Reading Room and elsewhere at the Library of Congress. Additionally, you can search for photographically illustrated books in the Online Catalog to locate more than 140 examples of this genre. The last two sections of this guide, 1900-1949 and 1950-2000, present a selection of books with photomechanical illustrations. In no way comprehensive, these later sections touch upon modern classics to show how the genre has evolved.
In compiling this guide, the Prints & Photograph Division thanks Richard Ovenden, Bodley’s Librarian at the University of Oxford, who generously shared with us his knowledge of photographically illustrated books while teaching a special course on “The Photographic Book since 1844” for the Rare Book School in 2017.
N.P. Lerebours, “Vue du Kremlin à Moscou” in Excursions daguerriennes. Vues et monuments les plus remarquables du globe by Paul de la Gerenne and N. P. Lerebours. Paris: Rittner et Goupil, 1842.
The idea that one can "record the light" to illustrate a book actually predates photography. In the eighteenth century, books were sometimes illustrated using the camera obscura--a darkened room or box in which light enters through a pinhole and projects an accurate, traceable image of the outside world. For example, the English surgeon, William Cheselden, used the camera obscura to accurately illustrate human skeletons in his book, The Anatomy of the Humane Body (1713). The 1750 edition, published by C. Hitch & R. Dodsley, portrays Cheselden and his camera on the title page.
Alternatively, many books were illustrated with silhouettes or "shades" traced in candlelight. For instance, the Swiss physiognomist, Johann Caspar Lavater, used human silhouettes to illustrate his book, Essays on Physiognomy (1775). Nevertheless, he lamented his inability to capture positive images. "Shades are the weakest," stated Lavater. "The weakest, for it is not positive, it is only something negative, only the boundary line of half the countenance" (pages 187-188).
Between 1825 and 1827, French inventor Joseph Nicéphore Niépce discovered how to copy an engraving onto a metal printing plate using only sunlight and basic chemistry. Niépce coated a plate of pewter with bitumen of Judea then exposed the plate to the sun below an engraving that was soaked in oil and was thus transparent. Where the sunlight passed through the engraving onto the plate, the bitumen of Judea hardened, creating a textured printing plate. Much to everyone's disappointment, however, the plate produced only high-contrast reproductions, unsuitable for publication in books.
Building upon Niépce's research, Louis Daguerre, in 1839, introduced the daguerreotype, a photographic image fixed on a silver-coated copper plate. As explained by Weston Naef in The Truthful Lens: A Survey of the Photographically Illustrated Book (1980), "the bulk and rigidity of the plate precluded its physical placement in a book." Undeterred, some authors etched the daguerreotype plates or engraved them, so they could be used like printing matrices. Others simply tried to copy the photograph by hand. Regrettably, "the earliest books with illustrations based on photographs," like Excursions daguerriennes (1842) by Paul de la Gerenne and N. P. Lerebours, "[were] not so very different-looking from conventional engraved illustrations," says Naef (pages 11-12).
In 1843, however, the English botanist, Anna Atkins, produced the first segment of what is arguably the first photographically illustrated book, Photographs of British Algae. She had mastered the cyanotype, a new photographic process introduced by Sir John Herschel in the previous year. "I hope that in general the impressions," made without a camera by pressing specimens between glass and light-sensitive paper, "will be found sharp and well-defined," wrote Atkins in the introduction. The impressions, however, appeared as negatives, and "the thickness of [some] specimens," Atkins lamented, "render[ed] it impossible to [press] the glass used in taking photographs sufficiently close."
Fortunately, Atkins' countryman, William Henry Fox Talbot, had developed another photographic process called the calotype. By sensitizing paper with silver chloride, Talbot created a paper negative, which he then used to make multiple positive salted paper prints. Between 1844 and 1846, he published those prints in The Pencil of Nature, a photographically illustrated book, released in six installments. "The plates of this work," he proclaimed, "have been obtained by the mere action of Light upon sensitive paper," and they were specially selected to demonstrate the wide utility of "photogenic drawing."
Atkins, Anna. Sun Gardens: Victorian Photograms. Reprint edited by Larry J. Shaaf and Hans P. Kraus, Jr. New York: Aperture, 1985. Originally published between 1843 and 1853. Call Number: TR57 .A87 1985. Request in Jefferson or Adams Building Reading Rooms. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/85047822
Cheselden, William. The Anatomy of the Human Body. 6th edition. Engravings by Vanderguebt. London: W. Bowyer, 1741. Call Number: QM21 .C5 1741 Pre-1801 Coll. Request in Rare Book Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/18000762
La Garenne, Paul de, et al. Excursions daguerriennes. Vues et monuments les plus remarquables du globe. Illus. N. P. Lerebours. Paris: Rittner et Goupil, 1842. Call Number: D975 .E9 (Case Y). Request in Prints and Photographs Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/28010461
Lavater, Johann Caspar. Essays on Physiognomy: Designed to Promote the Knowledge and Love of Mankind. 11th Edition. Trans. Thomas Holcroft. London: W. Tegg, 1860. Call Number: BF843. L3 1860 Toner Coll. Request in Rare Book Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/35033926
Talbot, William Henry Fox. The Pencil of Nature. London: Longman, Brown, Green & Longman, 1844-1846. Call Number: TR114 .T2. Request in Rare Book Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/unk82081615
“View of Eastern Nave” in Reports of the Juries on the Subjects in the Thirty Classes into which the Exhibition was Divided, vol. 3. London: Spicer Brothers, 1852.
Following The Pencil of Nature, photographically illustrated books became increasingly ambitious. A prime example is Reports by the Juries, a 4-volume publication that described--and pictured--the Great Exposition of the Works of Industry of All Nations, hosted by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in Hyde Park, London in 1851. Bound in Russian morocco leather and lined with silk, the Reports include 154 photographs by Hugh Owen and Claude-Marie Ferrier, printed on salted paper. William Henry Fox Talbot, who patented this printing process, was compensated with 15 copies of the Reports. Another copy was given to the US Government and is now in the Prints and Photographs Division.
In France, meanwhile, a merchant trained in chemistry, Louis Désiré Blanquart-Evrard, improved upon Talbot's process and issued his Procédés employés pour obtenir les épreuves de photographie sur papier (1851). Blanquart-Evrard opened his own workshop in Lille, where he published Egypte, Nubie, Palestine et Syrie (1851), a photographically illustrated book by Maxime Du Camp. Commissioned by the French government, Du Camp had traveled throughout Egypt and the Near East, photographing historical sites and monuments. He and Blanquart-Evrard selected 125 images to include in the book.
Both the Great Exposition and Du Camp's work inspired many photographers to travel the world and publish their own photographically illustrated books. Examples include Jérusalem: étude et reproduction photographiques des monuments de la Ville Sainte (1856) by Auguste Salzmann; Egypte et Nubie: sites et monuments (1858) by Félix Teynard; and Egypt, Sinai, and Palestine (ca. 1862) by Francis Frith. Such books were no easy task. "My readers are, perhaps, not aware that the original pictures were taken on glass," using a new, collodion wet plate process to produce albumen prints, explained Frith. "[Developed] in a smothering little tent," however, "with my collodion fizzing--boiling up all over the glass the instant that it touched--and, again, pushing my way backwards, upon my hands and knees, into a damp, slimy rock-tomb, to manipulate--it is truly marvelous that the [photographs] should be presentable at all" (Unnumbered page).
In step with European expansion, photographically illustrated books would examine the far reaches of the world. Between 1858 and 1860, Désiré Charnay photographed Mayan ruins in Yucatán and published Cités et ruines américaines (1862-1863) with a complementary travel narrative. Subsequently, the American artist William Bradford traveled to Greenland, where he and his companions, John Dunmore and George Critcherson, photographed the arctic landscape. Upon their return they published The Arctic Regions (1873). Meanwhile, the Scottish photographer John Thomson traveled throughout China, documenting not only landscapes and monuments but also the local inhabitants. Between 1873 and 1874, he published Illustrations of China and Its People.
Initially, photographs often appeared in books to illustrate travels to distant places. Many American and English photographers, however, also wanted to record what they saw at home. For example, Scottish immigrant Alexander Gardner documented the American Civil War alongside George Barnard, Timothy O'Sullivan, and other photographers. In 1866, he published Gardner's Photographic Sketchbook of the War, which included extraordinarily graphic imagery. Barnard went on to publish his own Photographic Views of the Sherman Campaign (1866). O'Sullivan, however, traveled westward. In 1867, he joined an expedition led by geologist Clarence King to survey the 40th Parallel. O'Sullivan also participated in a second expedition led by Army Lieutenant George Wheeler between 1871 and 1874. When the expedition ended, the US Army Corps of Engineers published the work of O'Sullivan and another photographer, William H. Bell, in Photographs Showing Landscapes, Geological and Other Features, of Portions of the Western Territory of the United States (1874-1875).
While surveyors ventured westward, John Thomson turned inward--to the city--to document an urban landscape transformed by industrialization and immigration. Between 1877 and 1878, Thomson and Adolphe Smith published Street Life in London, a photographically illustrated book that included 36 woodburytypes and exposed the everyday poverty endured by the working class. "We have visited, armed with note-book and camera, those back streets and courts where the struggle for life is none the less bitter and intense, because less observed," declared Thomson. "Now we [seek] to portray these harder phases of life, bringing to bear the precision of photography in illustration." (Unnumbered page).Across the Atlantic, the "muckraking" journalist, Jacob Riis, produced How the Other Half Lives (1890), a similar, reformist book on New York tenements. Unlike Thomson, however, Riis utilized a new, gelatin silver process to make photographs, which the publisher mechanically reproduced as halftones alongside engravings.
P.H. Emerson, "A Rushy Shore" in Life and Landscape on the Norfolk Broads by Emerson and T.F. Goodall. London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle and Rivington, 1886.
In contrast, Peter Henry Emerson and Thomas Frederick Goodall wished to document "sublime beauty," which they located in the English countryside, among the peasants in Norfolk Broads. In 1886, they published Life and Landscape on the Norfolk Broads, which included 40 platinum prints, "taken directly from nature." Unlike Thomson and Riis, who utilized the photobook to bring about socio-political change, Emerson and Goodall wished "to produce a book of art for lovers of art." An outlier in nineteenth century publishing, Life and Landscape would nonetheless help pave the way for a new genre of photographically and photomechanically illustrated art-books in the years to come.
Meanwhile, photographic portraits also appeared in books as frontispieces or entire directories of a graduating class or other groups of people likely to buy a souvenir volume.
Blanquart-Evrard, Louis Désiré. Traité de photographie sur papier. Introd. M. Georges Ville. Paris: Roret, 1851. Call Number: TR330 .B5. Request in Rare Book Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/40022383
Bradford, William. The Arctic Regions: Illustrated with Photographs Taken on an Art Expedition to Greenland. London: Sampson Low, Marston, Low, and Searle, 1873. Call Number: G610 .B79. Request in Rare Book Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/05040244
Charnay, Désiré. Cités et ruines américaines: Mitla, Palenqué, Izamal, Chichen-Itza, Uxmal. Paris: Gide et A. Morel, 1862-1863. Call Number: F1219 .C51 (Case X and Case Z). Request in Prints and Photographs Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/02004883
D'Albert, Honoré. Voyage d'exploration à la mer morte, à Petra et sur la rive gauche du Jourdain. Paris: Arthus Bertrand, 1868-1874. Call Number: DS107 3L97 (Case Y). Request in Prints and Photographs Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/04024764
Du Camp, Maxime. Medinet-Habou: Plate 47 from Egypte, Nubie, Palestine et Syrie: dessins photographiques recueillis pendant les années 1849, 1850, et 1851 accompagnés d'un texte explicatife. Paris: Gide et J. Baudry, 1852. Call Number: PH-Du Camp (M.), No. 1 (A Size). Request in Prints and Photographs Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/2004672877
Emerson, P.H., and T. F. Goodall. Wild Life on a Tidal Water: The Adventures of a Houseboat and Her Crew. London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, and Rivington, 1890. Call Number: NE2620 .E5 (Case X). Request in Prints and Photographs Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/12015431
-----. Life and Landscape on the Norfolk Broads. London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, and Rivington, 1886. Call Number: NE 2620 .E55 (Case Z). Request in Prints and Photographs Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/12015425
-----. Pictures from Life in Field and Fen. London: G. Bell and Sons, 1887. Call Number: NE2615 .E5 (Case Y). Request in Prints and Photographs Reading Room. View Description: //www.loc.gov/pictures/item/12015426/
Fotograf-li︠u︡bitelʹ: ezhemi︠e︡si︠a︡chnyĭ zhurnal izdavaemyĭ pod redakt︠s︡īei︠u︡ A.M. Lavrova. S.-Peterburg : Tip. Tovarichestva, - TR1 .F67 (Case X). Request in Prints and Photographs Reading Room. View Description: //www.loc.gov/pictures/item/51049377/ (Each issue includes tipped in photographs and, in 1906, color plates by S.M. Prokudin-Gorskiĭ.)
Frith, Francis. Egypt, Sinai, and Palestine. London: W. Mackenzie, ca. 1862. Call Number: DS48. F87 (Case Y). Request in Prints and Photographs Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/56055830
-----. Lower Egypt, Thebes, and the Pyramids. London: W. Mackenzie, ca. 1862. Call Number: DS47 .F7 (Case Y). Request in Prints and Photographs Reading Room. View Description:
-----. Upper Egypt and Ethiopia. London: W. Mackenzie, ca. 1862. Call Number: DT123 .F7 (Case Y). Request in Prints and Photographs Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/56055832
Gardner, Alexander. Gardner's Photographic Sketch Book of the War. Washington, D.C.: Philp & Solomons, 1866. Call Number: E468.7 .G19 (Case Y). Request in Prints and Photographs Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/10010359
George, Hereford Brooke. The Oberland and Its Glaciers: Explored and Illustrated with Ice-Axe and Camera. London: A.W. Bennett, 1866. Call Number: DQ827 .G34 (Case X). Request in Prints and Photographs Reading Room. View Description: //www.loc.gov/pictures/item/04002895/
Hillard, E. B. (Elias Brewster), 1825-1895. The Last Men of the Revolution. Hartford: N. A. & R. A. Moore, 1864. Call number: E206.H54. Request in Rare Book Reading Room.
Howitt, William. Ruined Abbeys and Castles of Great Britain. London: A.W. Bennett, 1862. Call Number: DA660 .H85 (Case X). Request in Prints and Photographs Reading Room. View Description: //www.loc.gov/pictures/item/03007097/
Irving, Washington. Rip Van Winkle: A Legend of the Kaatskill Mountains. New York: G.P. Putnam and Son, 1870. Call Number: PS2068 .A1 1870 (Case X). Request in Prints and Photographs Reading Room. View Description://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/14011427/
James, Henry. Plans and Photographs of Stonehenge, and Turusachan in the Island of Lewis. Southampton: No Publisher Named, 1867. Call Number: DA140 .J28 (Case Y). Request in Prints and Photographs Reading Room. View Description: //www.loc.gov/pictures/item/02020900/
Loewy, Maurice M. and M. Pierre Puiseux. Atlas photographique de la lune. Paris: L'Observatoire de Paris, Imprimerie Nationale de Paris, 1896-1910. Call Number: G1000.31.A4 O2 1896. Request in Geography & Map Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/96675326
M'Clees, Jas. E. (James E.) McClees' gallery of photographic portraits of the senators, representatives & delegates of the thirty-fifth Congress. Washington: McClees & Beck, . Call number: JK1012 .M35 1859 (Case X). Request in Prints and Photographs Reading Room. View Description: //www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2009633223/
Muybridge, Eadweard. Animal Locomotion: An Electro-Photographic Investigation of Consecutive Phases of Animal Movements, 1872-1885. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, New York Photo-Gravure Co., 1887. Call Number: LOT 3309 (H). Request in Prints and Photographs Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/31004968; Full publication is in the Rare Book Division.
Nasmyth, James and James Carpenter. The Moon: Considered as a Planet, a World, and a Satellite. London, John Murray, 1874. Call Number: QB581 .N2. Request in Prints and Photographs Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/02018052
Ravaisson, Félix. La Venus de Milo. Paris: Librairie Hachette et Cie, 1871. Call Number: NB163.V6 R2 (Case X). Request in Prints and Photographs Reading Room. View Description: //www.loc.gov/pictures/item/04001727/
Riis, Jacob A. How the Other Half Lives. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1890. Call Number: HV4046.N6 R55. Request in Rare Book Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/04011775
-----. Poverty and Tenement Life in New York City, ca. 1890. Reproductions of photographs for How the Other Half Lives. Call Number: LOT 6300 (H). Request in Prints and Photographs Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/2002717297
Royal Commission of the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations. Reports of the Juries on the Subjects in the Thirty Classes into which the Exhibition was Divided. 4 Vols. London: Spicer Brothers, 1852. Call Number: T690 .D8 (Case Z). Request in Prints and Photographs Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/05036674
Russell, Andrew J. and F.V. Hayden. Sun Pictures of Rocky Mountain Scenery. New York: J. Bien, 1870. Call Number: F594 .H41 (Case X). Request in Prints and Photographs Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/rc01001519
Salzmann, Auguste. Jérusalem: étude et reproduction photographiques des monuments de la Ville Sainte. Paris: Gide et J. Baudry, 1856. Call Number: NA1471 .J4 S3 (Case Y). Request in Prints and Photographs Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/68039860
Stillman, William J. The Acropolis of Athens: Illustrated Picturesquely and Architecturally in Photography. London: F.S. Ellis, 1870. Call Number: NA280 .S8 (Case Y). Available in Prints and Photographs Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/11031053
Teynard, Félix. Egypte et Nubie, sites et monuments les plus interessants pour l'étude de l'art et de l'histoire. Paris: Goupil et Cie, 1858. Call Number: DT60 .T4 (Case Y). Request in Prints and Photographs Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/tmp82008530
Thomson, John. Illustrations of China and its People. 4 vols. London: Sampson Low, Marston, Low and Searle, 1873-1874. Call Number: DS709 .T475. Request in Rare Book Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/05003761
Thomson, John and Adolphe Smith. Street Life in London. London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle and Rivington, 1877-1878. Call Number: DA688 .T52 1877 (Case Y). Request in Prints and Photographs Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/82466566
Watson, John Forbes, and John William Kaye. The People of India. A Series of Photographic Illustrations with Descriptive Letterpress of the Races and Tribes of Hindustan. 8 vols. London: W.H. Allen and Company, 1868-1875. Call Number: DS430 .W3 (Case X). Request in Prints and Photographs Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/05011843
Wheeler, George. Photographs Showing Landscapes, Geological and Other Features, of Portions of the Western Territory of the United States. Washington, D.C.: US Government Printing Office, 1874-1875. Call Number: F594 .U582 (Case Z). Request in Prints and Photographs Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/49034303
Young, William. Lights and Shadows of New York Picture Galleries. New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1864. Call Number: ND1245.N5 Y7 (Case Y). Request in Prints and Photographs Reading Room. View Description: //www.loc.gov/pictures/item/06011965/
In the early twentieth century, publications with photomechanical illustrations became increasingly prevalent. Many photographers inserted photogravures into books and periodicals to advance pictorialism—photography as art. One of the famous examples is Camera Work, a “photographic quarterly” edited by Alfred Stieglitz and Joseph Keiley in New York between 1903 and 1917. Featured in Camera Work were such prominent pictorialists as Gertrude Käsebier and Clarence H. White. Stieglitz reproduced their images as photogravures–high quality photomechanical prints on gelatin tissue. According to Stieglitz, who touched up many of the photogravures by hand, "reproductions of photographic work must be made with exceptional care and discretion if the spirit of the originals is to be retained" (CW, no. 1, 15).
Camera Work also displayed work by many English pictorialists, including Alvin Langdon Coburn, who published his own photobook, London, in 1909. "Mr. Coburn [captured] that soft profundity, that gentle grey kindliness, which makes my mother London so lovable," proclaimed H.G. Wells (NY, 9). Wells penned the introduction to Coburn's next book, New York (1910). In return, Coburn illustrated Wells' compilation, Door in the Wall, and Other Stories (1911), with photogravures.
Arguably the most impressive pictorialist book, however, was The North American Indian, published in 20 volumes by Edward Curtis between 1907 and 1930. With the ambitious and romantic goal of photographing a "people who are rapidly losing the traces of their aboriginal character," Curtis envisioned The North American Indian as both a "comprehensive and permanent record" and an "artistic treatment," capturing the "marvelous touches that Nature has given to the Indian country" (vol. 1, xiii). A complete set, with sepia-tone photogravures, is held by the Rare Book Division.
Between 1910 and 1930, pictorialism gave way to modernism, as technological revolution and the devastation caused by World War I brought a new approach to artistic expression. This transition was marked by the last issue of Camera Work, published in 1917. Featured were 11 photogravures by Paul Strand, who advocated "straight photographic methods," without "tricks of process or manipulation" (CW, nos. 49-50, 3). Modernist photography like Strand's, however, was nonetheless artistic. Even everyday objects, Strand explained, "may be used as abstract forms, to create an emotion unrelated to… objectivity."
Modern takes on the photobook became especially popular in Europe in the late 1920s and early 1930s. In 1928, Karl Blossfeldt published an artistic book on plant anatomy, Urformen der Kunst, which had 120 rotogravures, printed on a cylindrical, rotary press. That same year, Germaine Krull released Métal, providing an abstract perspective on modern engineering. Similar works include Deutsche Arbeit (1930) by Emile Otto Hoppé and Eisen und Stahl (1931) by Albert Renger-Patzsch.
Complementary to "straight photography" was a renewed interest in photography as documentation, especially in the United States. In 1932, sociologist Lewis Hine published Men at Work, a book illustrated by rotogravures of modern engineering. Unlike Krull, however, Hine wished to document the "brains and toil of men," as they built the "motors, the airplanes [and] dynamos upon which the life and happiness of millions of us depend"(1). The titles below by Berenice Abbott, Arnold Genthe, Archibald MacLeish, and Doris Ulmann are also famous early exemplars of the documentary photobook.
Dorothea Lange, “8 a.m. Migratory field workers pulling carrots in a field.” Photograph later featured in American Exodus (New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, 1939), 115.
In the 1930s and early 1940s, photobooks struck a more somber tone, as the Resettlement Administration and Farm Security Administration sponsored a photography program that documented the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, and migrant laborers. Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans, two participants in the program, went on to publish books using the photographs commissioned by the RA/FSA. In 1939, Lange released An American Exodus with Paul Schuster Taylor. Three years later, Evans published Let Us Now Praise Famous Men in collaboration with James Agee. Both books–and many of the original prints and negatives–are in the Prints & Photographs Division.
Abbott, Berenice. Changing New York. New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., 1939. Call Number: F128.5 A22 FSA. Request in Prints & Photographs Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/39009016
Blossfeldt, Karl. Urformen der Kunst. Berlin: Verlag Ernst Wasmuth, A.G., 1928. Call Number: NK1560 .B53 1920z LANDOVR. Request in Jefferson or Adams Building Reading Rooms. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/tmp96032605
Brandt, Bill. Londres de nuit; soixante-quatre photographies de Bill Brandt. Introduction by André Lejard. Paris: Arts et métiers graphiques, 1938. Call Number: DA684 .B738. Request in Jefferson or Adams Building Reading Rooms. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/39023177
-----. The English at Home. New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1936. Call Number: DA566.4 .B7. Request in Prints & Photographs Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/36029018
Coburn, Alvin Langdon. London. Introduction by Hilaire Belloc. London: Duckworth & Co., 1909. Call Number: DA684 .C6 (Case Y). Request in Prints & Photographs Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/11001232
-----. Men of Mark. London: Duckworth & Co., 1913. Call Number: N7627 .C6 1913 (Case X). Request in Prints & Photographs Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/13026419
-----. New York. Introduction by H.G. Wells. London: Duckworth & Co., 1910. Call Number: F128.5 .C65 (Case Y). Request in Prints & Photographs Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/11024845
Curtis, Edward S. The North American Indian. 20 Volumes. Cambridge University Press; Norwood: Plimpton Press, 1907-1930. Call Number: E77 .C97 fol. Request in Rare Book Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/08002173
Ehrhardt, Alfred. Das Watt. Hamburg: Verlag Heinrich Ellermann, 1937. Call Number: 4TR 1. Request in Jefferson or Adams Building Reading Rooms. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/ltf89003096
Evans, Walker. Photograph Albums for Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. Call Number: LOT 991 (OH). Request in Prints & Photographs Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/2003656560
Evans, Walker and James Agee. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1941. Call Number: F326 .A17. Request in Rare Book Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/41013770
Evans, Walker and Lincoln Kirstein. American Photographs. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1938. Call Number: E169 .E85 FSA Carrel. Request in Prints & Photographs Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/39000874
Genthe, Arnold, and Will Irwin. Pictures of Old Chinatown. New York: Moffat Yard & Co., 1908. Call Number: F869 .S3 I74. Request in Jefferson or Adams Building Reading Rooms. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/08033429
Gräff, Werner. Es Kommt der neue Fotograf! Berlin: Hermann Reckendorf, 1929. Call Number: TR650 .G7. Request in Prints & Photographs Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/29028032
Hernán, Gustavo Ortiz. Chimeneas, Novela. Mexico City: Editorial México Nuevo, 1937. Call Number: PQ7297 .O77 C5. Request in Jefferson or Adams Building Reading Rooms. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/38004154
Hine, Lewis W. Men at Work: Photographic Studies of Modern Men and Machines. New York: Macmillan Co., 1932. Call Number: TS 147 .H5 (Case X). Request in Prints & Photographs Division. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/32023587
Hoppé, Emile Otto. Deutsche Arbeit. Berlin: Verlag Ullstein, 1930. Call Number: T26 .G3H6. Request in Prints & Photographs Reading Room. View Description:
Krull, Germaine. Métal. Paris: Librarie des Arts Décoratifs, 1928. Call Number: TR653 .K78 1929 (Case Y). Request in Prints & Photographs Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/83173384
Lange, Dorothea, and Paul Schuster Taylor. An American Exodus: A Record of Human Erosion. New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, 1939. Call Number: HD1525 .L3 FSA Carrel. Request in Prints & Photographs Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/40027041
MacLeish, Archibald, ed. Land of the Free. New York: Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1938. Call Number: E169 .M16 FSA. Request in Prints & Photographs Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/38008567
Renger-Patzsch, Albert. Die Welt ist Schön. Munich: Kurt Wolff Verlag, 1928. Call Number: TR650 .R4. Request in Prints & Photographs Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/29014008
-----. Eisen und Stahl. Munich: Hermann Reckendorf, 1931. Call Number: TS304 .G3R4. Request in Prints & Photographs Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/32010394
Sander, August. Antlitz der Zeit. Munich: Transmare Verlag, 1929. Call Number: TR680 .S2 (Case X). Request in Prints & Photographs Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/30024890
Stieglitz, Alfred, ed. Camera Work: A Photographic Quarterly. 50 Issues. 1903-1917. Call Number: TR1 .C5 (Case X); LOT 12429 (Microfilm viewing copy). Request in Prints & Photographs Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/sn94095762
Wells, H.G. The Door in the Wall, and Other Stories. Illus. Alvin Langdon Coburn. New York: Mitchell Kennerley, 1911. Call Number: PR5774 .D6 1911 Goudy Coll. Request in Rare Book Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/12002683
Ulmann, Doris and Julia Peterkin. Roll, Jordan, Roll. New York: Robert O. Ballou, 1933. Call Number: E185.6 .P47 (Case X). Request in Prints & Photographs Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/34010068
Since 1950, photobooks have become increasingly prevalent, largely thanks to inexpensive photomechanical printing processes. The Library of Congress holds countless new photobooks – too many to list. Hence, in the space below, we present 10 modern classics and provide a short description. You can explore the Library's collection with such subject headings as "Pictorial Works" and "Photobooks."
Avedon, Richard, and James Baldwin. Nothing Personal. New York: Atheneum, 1964. Call Number: TR680 .A89 LANDOVR. Request in Jefferson or Adams Building Reading Rooms. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/64023632
Childhood schoolmates Avedon and Baldwin published Nothing Personal in 1964, during the African American Civil Rights Movement and the Cold War. Baldwin wrote essays about how "the American of my experience has worshiped and nourished violence." Meanwhile, Avedon illustrates Baldwin's prose with unflattering portraits of Dwight Eisenhower, Marilyn Monroe, and George Wallace, among others.
Cartier-Bresson, Henri. The Europeans. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1955. Call Number: D1055 .C3 FT MEADE. Request in Jefferson or Adams Building Reading Rooms. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/55013895
Published in 1955 with a cover designed by Spanish artist Joan Miró i Ferrà, The Europeans pictures everyday living across Europe, post-WWII. According to Cartier-Bresson, "nowhere, probably, are as many differences crammed into so little space as in Europe," where "the yearning of all men for joy and happiness, their cruelty, their every passion are expressed in the countless little facets of daily existence."
DeCarava, Roy, and Langston Hughes. The Sweet Flypaper of Life. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1955. Call Number: F128.9.N3 D4 1955. Request in Rare Book Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/55010048
A collaboration between two Harlemites, photographer Roy DeCarava and poet Langston Hughes, The Sweet Flypaper of Life provides an intimate look at Harlem in the 1950s. Told from the perspective of Sister Mary Bradley, the story lays bare the everyday struggles of the African American community, all the while emphasizing its resilience. "I'm good as new," says Sister Mary, "back on my feet again and still kicking - with no intentions of signing no messages from St. Peter writing me to 'come home.'"
Frank, Robert. The Americans. Introduction by Jack Kerouac. New York: Grove Press, 1959. Call Number: E169.02 .F713 1959 (Case X). Request in the Prints and Photographs Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/59013885
Originally published in France in 1958, The Americans or Les américains includes 83 photographs taken by Frank on his journey across the United States in 1955. An honest, sobering look at America, Frank's photography was presented as criticism in France. In his introduction to the English edition, however, Jack Kerouac interprets Frank's work as poetically tragic. "With that little camera that he raises and snaps with one hand," says Kerouac, "[Frank] sucked a sad poem right out of America onto film."
Friedlander, Lee. The American Monument. Introduction by Leslie George Katz. New York: Eakins, 1976. Call Number: E159 .F74 FT MEADE. Request in Jefferson or Adams Building Reading Rooms. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/76006715
Published in 1976 to coincide with the American bicentennial, The American Monument by American photographer Lee Friedlander documents various statues, memorials, and shrines throughout the United States. "In an environment dominated by menacing speed, instability, advertising and television," says Leslie George Katz in the introduction, "the American monument plays a meditative role," as the "grace of intention shines through the ofttimes awkward alliance of efforts that produced them."
Lyon, Danny. The Bikeriders. New York: Macmillan, 1967. Call Number: GV1059.5 .L9 1968. Request in the Prints & Photographs Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/68011195
Between 1963 and 1967, photographer Danny Lyon immersed himself in American motorcycle culture, riding alongside the rebellious youths of the Chicago Outlaws, a biking group in Cicero, Illinois. His book, The Bikeriders, is "an attempt to record and glorify" the "spirit of the bikeriders: the spirit of the hand that twists open the throttle on the crackling engines of big bikes." Lyon contextualizes his photography with testimonials by Chicago Outlaws.
Owens, Bill. Suburbia. San Francisco: Straight Arrow Books, 1973. Call Number: E169.Z8 O96 1973. Request in Jefferson or Adams Building Reading Rooms. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/72088835
During post-war suburbanization in the United States, photojournalist Bill Owens photographed his own town, Livermore, California, and published those images in Suburbia. Owens presents the book's imagery alongside statements by his neighbors on the – somewhat peculiar – American dream. "I bought the lawn in six foot rolls," says one neighbor. "My wife and son helped roll out the grass," and "in one day you have a front yard."
Peress, Gilles. Telex Iran: In the Name of Revolution. Millerton: Aperture, 1983. Call Number: DS318.8 .P47 1983 FT MEADE. Request in Jefferson or Adams Building Reading Rooms. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/83070829
Between December 1979 and January 1980, Magnum photojournalist Gilles Peress photographed the political upheaval in Iran, as militants loyal to Ayatollah Khomeini overthrew the US-backed Pahlavi dynasty led by Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi. Peress later published his photographs in Telex Iran, contextualizing each image with his telex messages to associates in New York and Paris.
Ruscha, Edward. Every Building on the Sunset Strip. Los Angeles: No publisher named, 1966. Call Number: TR654 .R872 (Case X). Request in Prints & Photographs Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/67066269
An accordion-style artist's book that stretches 25 feet in length when fully opened, Every Building on the Sunset Strip, presents two mammoth panoramas that show each structure on both sides of the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, California. The book's deadpan photography conveys plainly Ruscha's opinion that Los Angeles is "the ultimate card-board cut out town."
Winogrand, Garry. The Animals. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1969. Call Number: QL77.5 .W5 Mamoulian Coll FT MEADE. Request in Rare Book Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/68054918
Witty yet ghastly, The Animals by New York street photographer Garry Winogrand presents zoo animals and spectators misbehaving. "It may be that we are relieved to find that even the animals, with their much-publicized supposed virtues" can be "reduced to a state of whimpering psychic paralysis if they are forced to live in circumstances similar to those of the typical modern urban dweller," writes John Szarkowski in the afterward.
Other well-known photobooks that have influenced new generations of photographers include:
Avedon, Richard, with Maria Morris Hambourg and Mia Fineman. Richard Avedon Portraits. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2002. Request in Jefferson or Adams Building Reading Rooms, TR681.F3 A933 2002, https://lccn.loc.gov/2002006198
Cartier-Bresson, Henri. China in Transition: A Moment in History. London: Thames & Hudson, 1956. Request in Jefferson or Adams Building Reading Rooms, DS721 .C247 1956a, https://lccn.loc.gov/a57005258
Cartier-Bresson, Henri. Images à la sauvette, photographies. Paris: Editions Verve, 1952. Request in Jefferson or Adams Building Reading Rooms, TR675 .C34 LANDOVR, https://lccn.loc.gov/54037112
Evans, Walker. Many Are Called. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1966. Request in Prints & Photographs Reading Room, TR680 .E9 (Case X), https://lccn.loc.gov/66027491
Kouldeka, Josef. Gypsies: Photographs. Millerton: Aperture, 1975. Request in Jefferson or Adams Building Reading Rooms, TR681.G9 K68 1975 FT MEADE, https://lccn.loc.gov/75013611
Strand, Paul. Ghana: An African Portrait. Millerton: Aperture, 1976. Request in Jefferson or Adams Building Reading Rooms, DT510.2 .S8, https://lccn.loc.gov/75013608.
British Library. "Photographically Illustrated Books." Collection Guide. https://www.bl.uk/collection-guides/photographically-illustrated-books
Getty Research Institute, Research Library. The Photography Incunabula Collection. https://archive.org/details/gettyphotographyincunabula
Lucien, Goldschmidt and Weston J. Naef. The Truthful Lens: A Survey of the Photographically Illustrated Book, 1844-1914. New York: Grolier Club, 1980. Call Number: TR925 .G73. Request in Prints & Photographs Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/80066237
Parr, Martin and Gerry Badger. The Photobook: A History. 3 vols. London: Phaidon. Call Number: N4733.3. Request in Prints & Photographs Reading Room. View Description: https://lccn.loc.gov/2007270031
Other reference aids from the Prints and Photographs Division:
Albums of Photographs, 1850-present
Illustrated English Language Periodicals
Compiled by: Adam Silvia, Associate Photography Curator, 2017.