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American Women: Resources from the Prints & Photographs Collections

Individually Cataloged Photographs

Jury of the Second Philadelphia Photographic Salon, 1899. PH Filing Series. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

The line between the realms of commercial and art photographic production is often difficult to fix. Both types of photography explore various styles and effects. Nevertheless, the division has set aside photographic prints and portfolios of great aesthetic, technical, or historic importance in its individually cataloged Photographs Collection (approximately 3,500 photographs, 1842-present).

The collection features both notable works by women photographers and works focusing on women as subjects. A card catalog provides access by photographers' names, such as Eva Watson-Schütze (1867-1935), Imogen Cunningham (1883-1976), or Rosalind Solomon (b. 1930). The collection also comprises, for instance,

  • Laura Gilpin's (1891-1979) portraits of Native Americans, particularly Pueblo and Navajo individuals, and various celebrities, as well as work she did in the Southwest and in Central America
  • Gertrude Käsebier's (1852-1934) allegorical images of women
  • Doris Ulmann's (1882-1934) photographs of the rural South

Within the collection of photographers' portfolios, there is a large variety of work by American women:

  • Berenice Abbott's (1898-1991) New York City buildings
  • Diane Arbus's (1923-1971) people at the fringes of society
  • Marilyn Bridges's (b. 1948) aerial photography
  • Barbara Brooks Morgan's (1900-1992) modern dancers
  • Dorothea Kehaya's (b. 1925) light and color effects
  • Lisette Model's (1901-1983) spontaneous street portraits

Searching the Collection

All of the individually cataloged photographs are described in the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog, where they have their own category, "PH Filing Series Photographs." Many images for which researchers have purchased reproductions have digital images, although because of rights considerations, some display only as small thumbnail size images outside Library of Congress buildings.

Subject access to the material is limited. Researchers seeking fine art photographs depicting women do best to identify photographers whose work is of interest and then check the card catalog to see if work by that photographer is represented in the collections.

Because of the fragility of some of the photographic prints, advance arrangements may be required for viewing some original images.

Further Information

Sample Images