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Picture Catalogs Online

Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress,Washington, DC 20540-4730

Picture Catalogs montage

Jump to: Libraries, Archives, and Museums: A - G | H - M | N - O | P - Z
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 exhaustive.

  • It is limited to sites that emphasize online catalogs and finding aids for pictorial collections.
  • It highlights databases that cover historical and documentary images in general subject areas, rather than those that focus on a single topic.
  • Most 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.
Out of scope are:
  • Web sites based on exhibit and gallery presentations
  • commercial sites that sell original prints and photographs
  • catalogs that feature art or slide reproductions.
Within the two categories, Libraries, Archives, and Museums and Commercial Sources (a sampler), entries are listed alphabetically by the name of the sponsoring institution.

Disclaimer icon 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.

Libraries, Archives, and Museums

A - G

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, For online inventories of collections not yet in the catalog, use the Collection Access Chart,

American Institute of Physics

Emilio Segrè Visual Archives
More than 10,000 records with digital images from "a collection of more than 25,000 historical photographs, slides, lithographs, engravings, and other visual materials."

Arizona State Library, Archives, and Public Records

Historical Photograph Collection
More than 30,000 of 130,000 photographs are digitized and searchable online.

Arkansas History Commission

More than 2,000 photographs and digital images.

Boston Historical Society (The Bostonian Society)

Online Catalog
One catalog retrieves photos and postcards. Another catalog covers prints and paintings. At least 10,000 digitized images.

British Columbia

Historical Photographs Online
Provides links to databases describing more than 150,000 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.

British Library

Catalogue of 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
Images Online
"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
Recently cataloged and digitized visual materials. Select “architectural and technical drawings,” “art,” or “photographic material.”

ArchiviaNet. Documentary Art
More than 175,000 records for drawings, paintings, and caricatures; with 10,000 digital images. Collections hold ca. 350,000 items. No longer being updated.

ArchiviaNet. Photographs
400,000 records for photographs; with 40,000 digital images. Collections have about 22 million photographs. No longer being updated.

Chicago History Museum (Chicago Historical Society)

Research Center, Archie,
Select "advanced search" to focus on photographic collections, including digitized images.

Connecticut Historical Society, with the University of Connecticut and Mystic Seaport

Connecticut History Online
About 14,000 images of photographs, drawings, and prints.

Council of Nova Scotia Archives

Archway Photographic Database
Union catalog for photographs in archives throughout Nova Scotia.

Denver Public Library, Western History and Genealogy

Digital Image Collection
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

Florida State Archives

Florida Memory. Florida Photographic Collection
Almost 100,000 records and digital images for photographs are online. The Archives has more than 850,000 photos.

Collection Index
"This guide describes the individual collections that comprise the Florida Photographic Collection as a whole."

George Eastman House: International Museum of Photography and Film

Photography Collections Online
Offers access by photographer or format, with many digital images. Full catalog is available by telnet,


H - M

Harvard University Library

Visual Information Access (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.

Do Research
Separate search for catalog and finding aids. “Includes descriptions of many special photograph collections and over 12,000 individual photographs in the library's general photograph collection. Other photographs are accessible through hard-copy descriptions.”

Indiana Historical Society

Digital Image Collections
“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.

Library of Congress

PPOC (Prints and Photographs Online Catalog)
Includes 600,000 records for more than 7 million pictures, with 1.2 million digital images. Total collections number close to 14 million items
Photos and Prints in American Memory
Includes ca. 50 pictorial collections from the Chicago Historical Society, Duke University, North Dakota State University, and other contributors, as well as the Library of Congress.
Photographs and Prints in Global Gateway. Meeting of Frontiers
Includes ca. 20 collections from the Russian State Library and other repositories in Russia

Library of Virginia

Prints and Photographs Collections
Provides links to digitized photographs relating to Virginia history from several public libraries as well as the state library.

Maryland Historical Society

Photograph Collections
Searches online guides and finding aids, with selected digital images.

Maryland State Archives

Guide to the Photographic Collections
Searches collection and series-level descriptions, with selected digital images.

Minnesota Historical Society

Visual Resources Database
More than 190,000 records for photos, art, posters, and fine art photos with more than 125,000 digital images. Collections contain 250,000 items.


N - O

Nagasaki University Library

Japanese Metadata Database of Old Photographs in Bakumatsu-Meiji Period
About 6,000 items with digital images, 1860-1899.

National Archives and Records Administration

Archival Research Catalog
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 posters.

National Archives of Canada see: Library and Archives Canada

National Library of Australia

Picture Australia
Union catalog with more than one 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.

National Library of Medicine

Images from the History of Medicine
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
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
Includes keyword search access to finding aids for photographic collections and selected digital images.

New York Public Library

NYPL Digital Gallery
"Provides access to over 600,000 images ... including illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, vintage posters, rare prints and photographs, illustrated books, printed ephemera, and more."

Picture Collection Online
"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. 5,000 digital images. The photo archive finding guide describes all 700,000 photographs in The Cline Library Special Collections and Archives Department.

Ohio Historical Society

Ohio Pix
About 5,000 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. Our experimental "Browse Images" feature organizes these images by topic."


P - Z

Princeton University

Graphic Arts. Catalogs, Databases, and Finding Aids
“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 360,000 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.”

Smithsonian Institution

SIRIS (Smithsonian Institution Research Information System)
Offers "252,000 descriptions of personal papers, manuscripts, photographs, oral histories, sound recordings, films, and organizational records from ten repositories. Over 100,000 scanned images are available in our Image Gallery

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Photographs Search
“Approximately 17,500 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
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. Digital Image Catalog
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
Almost 5,000 records and images, with links to finding aids with additional pictures.
UM Image Source
Lists databases with pictorial images from many university departments, including local history collections, visual arts resources, and zoology.

University of North Carolina

North Carolina Collections Photographic Archives
"Digital Portfolios and Sample Images includes databases and finding aids with links to digitized images. The Photographic Archives Collection Guides also link to digital images."

University of Pittsburgh

Historic Pittsburgh: Images
"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
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 Virginia

Digital Publications and Texts
Lists catalogs for photographs related to Virginia and African American education, such as the Holsinger Studio and Jackson Davis Collections.

University of Washington Libraries

Digital Collections
“Collections are primarily pictorial, although some have accompanying essays and text.”

Utah State Historical Society

Digital Library Collections
Lists databases with more than 15,000 digitized photographs.

Washington State University. Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections

Digital Collections

Historical Photographs
Includes guides to individual collections as well as an online catalog to search for images of digitized photographs.

Wellcome Library

Wellcome Images
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
Catalog with nearly 35,000images from the ca. 2 million pictures in the Visual Materials Collections, with new images added daily.


Commercial Sources (a sampler)

Web-wide "image" search engines

Alta Vista. Image Search feature

Google. Image search

Yahoo. Images

Stock photo agency directories

American Society of Picture Professionals

Picture Archive Council of America, Membership Directory,

Prepared by: Helena Zinkham, Technical Services Section, July 2003. Last updated: June 2008.

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  June 13, 2008
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