Skip to Main Content

American Women: Resources from the Prints & Photographs Collections

Graphic Journalism & Illustration Collections

Ethel Reed, artist. The Boston Sunday Herald - ladies want it Feb. 24. 1895 or 1901. Artist Posters. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division

Before the development in the 1880s of efficient means for reproducing photographic images in magazines and, later, newspapers, publishers used illustrations based on drawings to depict and comment on events of the day for readers. Women were involved in the industry as artists, subjects of images, and as consumers of the publications (and attendant advertising) that featured illustrations.

Even after the photomechanical halftone process made it possible to reproduce photographs in books, magazines, and newspapers (see the Picture Processes: A Chronology section of this guide), publishers continued to use the work of artists to illustrate feature material, if not the news itself.

These unique "Graphic Journalism and Illustration" collections are highlighted in the following sections of this guide:

  • British Cartoons
    8,500 prints (1621-1832), including visual commentaries on British politics, culture and manners, as well as the developing American political consciousness
  • Civil War Drawings
    Part of the Documentary Drawings collection (3,000+ drawings created between 1750 and 1970), the eye-witness sketches made during the U.S. Civil War are the most frequently used images.
  • Cabinet of American Illustration
    4,000 drawings (1845-present) produced as illustrations for American books and magazines
  • Cartoon Drawings
    The Library of Congress has long maintained a strong focus on political satire and comic art, in the forms of editorial cartoon and comic strip drawings. Multiple collections are highlighted in this section of the guide.
  • Illustrated Weeklies
    Periodical illustration flourished from the mid-1800s onwards. Illustrations primarily took the form of black-and-white wood engravings and, later, color lithographs.