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American Women: Resources from the Prints & Photographs Collections

Part of the American Women series, this guide highlights collections and tips for finding images relating to American women's history in the Library of Congress' pictorial collections of photographs, prints, drawings, and architectural documentation.


Hy Mayer, artist. The awakening. 1915. Illustration in Puck, 77: 14-15 (1915 February 20). Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

The holdings of the Prints & Photographs Division document people, events, trends, and artistic and technical creativity that helped to shape the history and culture of the United States.

As integral players in the country's history and culture, women, and issues affecting them, are evident everywhere in the division's collections. You find them among its:

  • documentary and art photographs
  • prints
  • cartoon and other drawings
  • posters
  • architecture, design, and engineering documentation
  • applied graphic art materials and ephemera such as sheet music, seed packets, and tobacco and patent medicine labels.

Researchers regularly tap the collections to illustrate publications or to supply visual content for documentary films, educational media projects, and electronic resources. Such projects take advantage of the sometimes dynamic, sometimes humorous, and frequently information-filled content of individual images. Our collecting strengths, however, also support areas of growing interest in historical scholarship, including the representation of women in the United States over time and the role American women have played in communicating about their world in visual terms.

About the Prints & Photographs Division

Unique in their scope and richness, the picture collections number more than 16 million images. These include photographs, historical prints, posters, cartoons, documentary drawings, fine prints, and architectural and engineering designs. While international in scope, the collections are particularly strong in materials documenting the history of the United States and the lives, interests, and achievements of the American people..