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American Women: Resources from the Prints & Photographs Collections

Panoramic Photographs

Panoramic photographs (4,200 photos, 1851-1991; bulk 1880-1930) typically have a length that is at least twice as long as the panorama's width, making them ideal for depicting wide expanses of landscape and large groups. The larger format panoramas, ranging from twenty-eight inches to more than six feet, make up the bulk of the more than 4,200 items in the Panoramic Photographs, although smaller format panoramic images can be found in groups of images (LOTs) and among postcard groupings. All sizes of panoramas can lend insight into the depiction of women in the era.

M. F. Weaver. Annual "Bathing Girl Parade", Balboa Beach, Cal., June 20, 1920. 1920 June 20. Panoramic Photographs. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

Postcards and magazines reproduced panoramas as advertisements for real estate and for the promotion of the tourist industry, but they were also popular as portrait souvenirs for people attending conventions and other events.

The collection reflects the growing popularity of beauty contests in the 1920s, documents some women's colleges, and suggests women's relative visibility or invisibility in various types of religious and political organizations. Cityscapes and views of city life give some sense of women's presence and interactions or lack thereof in public places during the period, while rural landscapes give one a feel for the settings in which many women, particularly before 1920, spent their days.

Searching the Collection

Panoramas that measure more than twenty-eight inches long can be searched online, where the collection has its own listing. Some groups of smaller panoramic postcards have also been individually described and digitized and can be found by searching the Groups of Images category in the online catalog. LOTs that include items that have not been digitized can be requested for viewing by on-site researchers.

Sample Images

6th Biennial Convention, Nat'l Women's Trade League, 6/4 to 9, 1917. 1917. Panoramic Photographs. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.
W. W. Murff, photographer. C.I.A., Denton, Tex. 1910. Panoramic Photographs. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.